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Over at National Review, Ronald Bailey reviews Michael Crichton's Ronald Bailey-inspired new novel.

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  1. Talk about damning with faint praise!

    Personally I can’t stand poorly plotted books no matter how compellingly written.

    Of course, I am boycotting George Lucas movies for similar weaknesses, so maybe I am an outlier. 🙂

  2. You’d think that someone who, however belatedly, recognized the reality of global warming and who blames his years-long pursuit of a dead end to the harmful fallacy of knee-jerk anti-green political prejudice would have some harsher words for an author who writes a book denying global warming and pandering to knee-jerk anti-green political prejudice.

  3. Over at National Review, Ronald Bailey reviews…

    WHAT what whaaaaaa? Isn’t being published in National Review sufficient to have someone removed from the Reason staff? It should be.

  4. I like your reminder about State of Fear, but I am not convinced that it truly is fiction 😉

  5. Ron Bailey, you do not have a talking monkey and bird in C-ville do you?

  6. Nice review. I’ve been in the mood for some compelling trash, so maybe I’ll check out Next and State of Fear.

    However, I quibble with the assertion that “Frankenstein was essentially a reactionary response to that [technological/industrial] revolution.” I don’t think Frankenstein was any kind of response to technological or industrial developments. Shelley just used the science-fiction stuff as a springboard for addressing various existential issues.

  7. In Terminal Man, the implant attempted to thwart impending siezures by stimulating the pleasure center of the man’s brain. Obviously, the brain attempted to get more pleasure by fabricating more siezures.
    Obviously wrongheaded.

  8. Considering the silliness of many of Crichton’s previous books, I think I’ll pass.

    (The one I found the most hysterical was Rising Sun. I was in Tokyo at the time, and all of us who had any experience of working in actual Japanese companies were rolling on the floor with laughter.)

  9. “Rising Sun” was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

    There’s a lot of Japense people, ok? So at the end, everyone starts kicking each other, ok?

    And Sean Connery can’t lift his foot above his knee, so they cut from a shot of him lifting his foot, to a shot of a Japanese guy falling backwards, to a shot of Sean Connery putting his foot back on the ground.

    Sorry, that’s just not something you can put out of your mind, even years later.

  10. I just finished “Next” last week. It raises some compelling issues and in both the text and After forward usually takes the Libertarian point of view.

    Of course it is also the typical Crichton formula, which although I enjoy the wild ride it is a little tough when he is introducing new characters half way through the book and his endings are almost always abrupt (exception would be the Great Train Robbery), like he got tired and just wants to finish the novel.

    But still loads of fun. I think Ron gave it a pretty fair review.

  11. “because there is practically no evidence that humanity rushes headlong into misusing powerful new technologies”.

    I’m in agreement that the positives have largely outweighed the negatives but surely this is an overstatement. I guess though, it also depends on your view about the dropping of the A-bomb on hundreds of thousands of civilians. And shouldn’t we also say that an early negative of the industrial revolution was that pollution levels from factories were so bad the cities were covered in a thick, dark smoke. Of course, we’ve made progress since then but still isn’t it a bit of an exaggeration to say ‘no evidence’?

    Btw, Dean Koontz has been writing these scare stories about bio-tech for some time now, including a reworking of “Frankenstein” with the same title. I kind of enjoy the novels though I find the pessimism naive and extreme in the other direction.

  12. Je veux un biscuit. Et subsistance qui a damn? le singe loin de moi!

  13. The other funny part about “Rising Sun” was that Connery’s character was supposed to be some sort of Japanese expert, fluent in the language and culture. But in one scene he tells a Japanese person he is angry. “I am very….very….Okota(angry)!” he stammers out, but mangles the pronunciation of ‘Okota’ nearly beyond recognition. The mixing of the English and the mangling of the pronunciation had one movie audience in Tokyo nearly falling out of their chairs in laughter, I heard (which is especially remarkable as Japanese audiences are notoriously passive).

  14. And Sean Connery can’t lift his foot above his knee, so they cut from a shot of him lifting his foot, to a shot of a Japanese guy falling backwards, to a shot of Sean Connery putting his foot back on the ground.

    I was very disappointed to learn he couldn’t really write novels after watching Finding Forrester, too.

  15. My favorite line in “Finding Forrester”: “Punch the Keys!” as though hitting the typewriter keys harder somehow facilitates good writing. Is that some sort of Jack Kerouac inspired silliness or did the screenwriter come up with that nugget all on his own. What a terrible film! It would have been much more interesting and amusing if Connery and the actor playing the poor black kid had switched roles.

  16. Rising Sun was a crappy movie, yes, but it’s not even if the list of the worst five movies Connery has made, let alone of all time. Ever seen Zardoz? Highlander I or II? The Avengers? Medicine Man?

  17. ‘Zardoz’ is wonderfully weird though. I wouldn’t put it in the same group as the others.

    “No, no, I’m not going to level 6 with you, noo, nooo!” or something like that.

  18. “”Rising Sun” was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”

    if by worst you mean “greatest” and by movie you mean “two hours of non-stop action and excitement,” i agree.

    also, dude coined “you’re the man now, dog” and became a legend.

  19. At least Rising Sun sported Tia Carrere near the peak of her yumminess.

  20. Highlander is great flick. All time action classic. It’s true though, Sean has made some stinkers. I think Sick Boy said it best:
    The Name of the Rose is merely a blip on an otherwise uninterrupted downward trajectory.

    OH but if you ever get a chance to watch a shot little military prison flick called “The Hill” don’t pass it up (unless it’s that colorized abortion)

  21. “You’d think that someone who, however belatedly, recognized the reality of global warming and who blames his years-long pursuit of a dead end to the harmful fallacy of knee-jerk anti-green political prejudice would have some harsher words for an author who writes a book denying global warming and pandering to knee-jerk anti-green political prejudice.”

    I’m shocked, personally.

  22. And researchers hope to use biotech to bring back to life animals driven to extinction by humanity, including the Tasmanian tiger and the woolly mammoth.

    Humanity killed off the woolly mammoth? Damn, those flint spears were lethal!

  23. There was a poll some time back as to the worst mangled foreign language in an English-language film. I remember Sean Connery won, hands down, for what he did to Russian in The Hunt For Red October.

  24. Humanity killed off the woolly mammoth?

    Well, it was certainly Tasmanian graziers (ie sheep farmers) who drove the Tasmanian tiger (more properly the “thylacine“) to extinction. But by the time they managed to accomplish that in the 1930s they had had firearms for many years. The Lee Enfield SMLE which most of them owned and had learned to shoot* remarkably well to stay alive in WWI accounted for large numbers.

    However they were just continuing the tradition started by the earliest human inhabitants of Australia who managed to wipe out the megafauna of the continent with sharpened wood spears (they never even developed the technology of stone tools) within a few thousand years of their arrival thirty thousand years ago.

    I attended a school in Tasmania that had a stuffed thylacine in a glass case in the biology lab. She had not been particularly well maintained so she looked rather moth-eaten and sad.

    And actually I believe the reason the wooly mammoth was wiped out is that until man arrived it had few threatening enemies but also a low reproduction rate. Apparently the poor creatures were unable to replace themselves as fast as the two-legged predators could kill them with their high-tech weapons.

    *Although due to the demands of country life most Tasmanian boys were crack shots before they signed up to fight for King and Empire.

  25. Since this is a thread at least peripherally about Crichton, would it be OK for me to mention him without being admonished to “learn to read”?

    (I’m not bitter.)

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