Literature / State of Fear

State of Fear is a novel by Michael Crichton. In a nutshell: Hippies try to flood the USA to give the US a very good reason to start spending more on anti-global warming initiatives.

In depth: The US Government, a lawyer, and several others investigate a corporation suspected of having ties to the Environmental Liberation Front. Said corporation has been claiming headway into weather control technologies, with associates and researchers mysteriously dying.

A Global Warming themed conspiracy novel by Michael Crichton, as in "global warming is a conspiracy to get power." Cue the media firestorm calling it controversial, which naturally amounted to free advertising.

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Contains Examples of:

  • Animal Assassin: The main murder method of the bad guys is to get a team of ninjas to burst in, and restrain the target, while someone presses a blue ringed octopus against their armpit, just to be eco-friendly in their killings precisely because it's such a bizarre and unlikely means of execution. Until Kenner showed up and recognized the paralysis as a poisoning, doctors assumed the deaths were caused by strokes.
  • Artistic License Physics: While a great deal of research was clearly done, weather-control technologies were also exaggerated for dramatic effect.
  • Asshole Victim: Bradley. The fact that he's an asshole doesn't make his murder any less horrific or reprehensible, though.
  • Author Avatar: Professor John Kenner.
  • Author Filibuster: Quite a few, many of which are Character Filibusters by Kenner.
  • Author Tract: As expected of Crichton.
  • Big Bad: Nick Drake
  • Character Filibuster: Pretty much whenever Kenner opens his mouth. It's a Crichton mainstay.
    • Professor Norman Hoffman seemed to exist only to drop Character Filibusters that would be out of place for Kenner to make. He's in one scene, drops two or three, and then the Everyman protagonist leaves, while Hoffman attempts to shout a few more at his retreating back.
  • The Conspiracy: An environmentalist organization is really a front for an eco-terrorist organization, one with rather extreme methods.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: An intercepted list of ELF test sites are vaguely reminiscent of nuclear tests.
  • Doomsday Device: The cavitators. Read: earthquake machines.
  • Eco-Terrorist: The Earth Liberation Front, or ELF. Called the Environmental Liberation Front in the book. While the "real" ELF is (as far as we know) merely a gang of arsonists united only by a common tactic/motive, Crichton's ELF is essentially an ecoterrorist Global Frequency—non-centralized communications uniting a network of fanatically dedicated and skilled operatives. It's more likely that the name was chosen as a joke; the ELF's "legitimate" cover organization is called the National Environmental Resource Fund - NERF!
  • Flame Bait: The subject matter.
  • Fun with Acronyms: ELF and NERF.
  • Global Warming: The subject of the book.
  • Hatedom: Has quite a substantial one.
  • Hotter and Sexier: This book contained noticeably more sexual themes than some of Crichton's previous works. (That's because of the world getting hotter through global warming, do you see?)
  • Karma Houdini: Strange enough for a Crichton book, Big Bad Drake gets off without punishment.
  • Mister Exposition: Kenner, again.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: A central theme;
    Kenner: You think civilization is some horrible, polluting human invention that separates us from the state of nature. But civilization doesn't separate us from nature, Ted. Civilization protects us from nature. Because what you see right now, all around you -(referring to a tribe of cannibals)- this is nature.
  • Noble Savage: Mockingly, painfully subverted. Our unfortunate, vapid actor believes he'll be freed by these stronger, hardier, more-knowing-than-white-people tribals... they actually beat him half to death, then eat him alive.
  • Never Found the Body: At one point, a character apparently gets drunk and drives his car off a cliff. They never find the body. Well until he inevitably comes back to save the day at any rate. He really doesn't save it, aside from helping to accompany Kenner's crack team. He has been feeding the US investigators information on the ELF camp, however.
  • Only Sane Man: In an interesting meta-spin on the trope, Crichton himself. In his afterward of the novel, following a quick list of facts about the science and politics of the environment, Crichton caps the list with the quip, "Everyone has an agenda. Except me." It's not clear whether he was being serious, or warning the reader to watch out for people who make such statements. It's likely the latter; earlier in the list, he also includes, "I am certain there is too much certainty in the world."
  • Shown Their Work: A controversial example-as with all his books, Crichton provided his references (even putting some in footnotes in a key chapter), but some of the sources accused Crichton of misrepresenting their work.
  • Strawman Political: Replete with them, the most obvious one being the ELF-supporting celebrity that, at one point, believes a poverty-ridden third-world city is "in touch with nature". He gets eaten by cannibals, starting with getting his mouth torn out.
  • Take That!: Potentially the ELF, though in an odd twist Crichton portrays them as significantly higher tech and better organized and funded than the real life version in order to justify having them as the antagonists.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Again, the subject of the book. Additionally, the ELF tries to heighten awareness of global warming by using earthquake generators to cause a Tsunami that will damage America pretty badly.
  • This Loser Is You: Peter Evans, especially concerning his initial views over global warming.
  • Trivial Title: The title refers to the thesis that the U.S. government and the media are collaborating to keep the public in a near-constant panic, ensuring their continued power. This thesis was completely overshadowed (both in the novel, and in the Real Life media controversy surrounding the novel) by the secondary point that global warming in particular is just a hoax-the latest such hoax used to perpetuate the state of fear.
  • Villain Ball: Following people near the cavitation machines which are about to set off a tsunami and are vibrating quickly enough to smash you into itty-bitty pieces is not going to bode well for your face. Especially if you're dealing with a guy who knows kung-fu.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The two assassins working for the ELF, much bandied about in the intro and first half, after trying to befriend the main character and instead paralyzing the private detective spying on them, disappear. Likewise, the said detective also disappears after he's rescued in the nick of time, though his injuries will likely keep him out of commission for a while. Also, Drake's fate is unclear at the end of the novel.
  • Writer on Board: It's Crichton, to be sure. If you know his works, it should be obvious here.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Subverted. A popular environmental enthusiast says "that people who live closer to the earth, in their villages, surrounded by nature, that those people have a natural ecological sense and a feeling for the fitness of it all", that "village life is best and ecologically soundest", and "everyone in the world should live that way, and certainly, we should not be encouraging village people to industrialize." However, whenever he visits those areas, he stays in hotels.
  • You Can Panic Now: The eponymous State Of Fear.