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Welcome, Mr. Crichton--But Have You Ever Got a Lot of Explaining to Do


From my friend George Savage, who knows a lot about science, medicine, and novels:

HarperCollins just released Michael Crichton’s latest novel, State of Fear, today. The subject matter was officially top secret until release, although a Crichton essay in last Sunday’s Parade magazine telegraphed the thesis comprehensively: the environmental movement is using junk science to scare the public. Mr. Crichton’s essay and — from what I can glean today on the Internet — his book, aim to debunk such fear-mongering.

First off, I’d like to welcome Crichton to the conservative movement.

But just a cotton-pickin’ minute: Isn’t the reason for Crichton’s fame the very fear-mongering he now decries? Crichton didn’t make his fortune from ER, after all. He built his reputation as a technical visionary through a series of apocalyptic novels warning the public about the dangers of whatever technology happened to be perceived as sufficiently leading-edge at the time. Consider that Crichton has asked us to be alarmed by the prospect of deadly viruses brought back by the military from space (Andromeda Strain); advanced computer technology producing homicidal robots (Westworld); seizure-preventing neuro-implants creating, instead, a Frankenstein’s monster (The Terminal Man); biotechnology used not to ameliorate disease or feed the hungry, but to reintroduce lethal – and hungry — dinosaurs into the environment (Jurassic Park, The Lost World); and most recently, nanotechnology entrepreneurs (in order to appease rapacious venture capitalists!) creating an intelligent and inevitably malicious hive-like creature which immediately does its best to re-enact the Invasion of the Body Snatchers storyline (Prey). And this is just a partial list.

I suppose that I should just be grateful that Crichton – who definitely has a sense for what’s popular – is ratifying the growing conservatism of the American public. But the hypocrisy is still just a little mind-blowing


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