25 January 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 81

Hello again, dear book club members! Are you all still around? =)

We took a break last month in order to read The Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson, which I've finally written about at Reading for Believers: The Death of the World. And so now it's back to business as usual over here! Well, sort of. I still intend to explore that radical idea of Reading Without The Internet, but it will have to wait until I'm done with (or to run in counterpoint to) something else I've been planning for months . . . and thinking about for years. 

There is a popular writer whom I've been putting off reading for the longest time, and now I cordially invite you to help me to choose the novel with which I start . . .

Congo vs. State of Fear

I bet I know what you're all thinking now . . . "Enbrethiliel, why isn't Jurassic Park up there???" My dear friends, it's not up there for reasons.

A few months ago, I read a review which put Jurassic Park in the same context as two other early Crichton novels: what all three have in common, the reviewer said, is their juxtaposition of breathtaking scientific advances with the banal, bureaucratic realities which all-too-human scientists must deal with. This puts a spin on SF which we certainly didn't get in last year's representative of the genre! The other two novels are Congo and Sphere, and you can bet that I want to read them in the order in which they were written. (While there's a sense in which a vote for Congo will be a vote for Jurassic Park, I can't promise to blog about the latter as well.)

You may know State of Fear as Crichton's "global warming novel," and that's precisely why I want to read it, too. Not for the science behind climate change claims, but for the politics and the media manipulation that science has been stooping to for years, in this and other areas. If State of Fear is anything like Crichton's Caltech lecture Aliens Cause Global Warming, then it should provide a lot of food for thought and fodder for blogging.

So what do you think? Let me know before 1 February 2014. Remember that your opinion is welcome whether or not you plan to read along and that Twitter votes addressed to @Enbrethiliel are counted. Thanks!

Image Sources: a) Congo, b) State of Fear


cyurkanin said...

I am forever ruined to Congo by the movie trailers and ridiculous special effects of talking, reasoning, and poker-playing monkeys, no matter what the book is actually about. I cast my lot for #STATEOFFEAR !!!

Enbrethiliel said...


LOL! Thanks! =)

Have you read other Crichton novels?

Sullivan McPig said...

I think I saw a movie based on Congo. And it was so ridiculous I will have to vote for Congo.

r said...

State of Fear! Uninfluenced by any Congo movie, I just agree that Crichton writes bureaucrats quite well.

cyurkanin said...

I read Jurassic Park last year and was mightily impressed. The only other one that looked interesting to me was Sphere though I appreciated the sentiment behind "State of Fear."

Sullivan McPig, I can't decide to curse you for your vote or appreciate your reasoning :)

NoelCT said...

I haven't read State of Fear yet, but Congo is a solid book, and a clever modern play on classic adventure stories. The movie is silly as hell, but a very broad adaptation, so don't let that be held against the book. :)

Belfry Bat said...

... said the man with monkeys in his profile photo... admittedly, not playing poker. Heck, I can't play poker; the monkeys would thrash me.

I haven't read State Of Fear, and wouldn't know where to look for it anyway. Actually, I know exactly where to look, and... well, I don't know what. I'll be happy to interject poorly-remembered nonsense for the wrong chapters if you settle on Congo. Don't count that as a vote, though!

cyurkanin said...

Belfry Bat: I just spit soda all over my keyboard, I'd not even thought about my profile pic LOL!

Enbrethiliel said...


@LouisianaYak voted for Congo on Twitter!

Sully -- I shouldn't be surprised that the movie is influencing people's choices, but I do find it interesting that while you and Christopher have the same opinion of it, you have different votes! =) Thanks for chiming in!

R -- Cool reason. Thanks!

Christopher -- I remember that. You were crowing, "I've read Crichton and YOU haven't?!" But with more wit, of course.

Noel -- I probably should have guessed that from what I've picked up from pop culture (that is, the movie trailer), but thanks for underlining it! =)

Bat -- But it would drive Christopher so crazy if I counted that as a vote! ;-)

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oh maybe I should jump in. I've been in such a reading slump lately. Even though I've got piles of great books to read they just don't seem to engage my fractured consciousness. Perhaps some Crichton would hit the spot.

My vote would be for State of Fear, that sounds much more interesting to me than Congo.

cyurkanin said...

If you say I'm witty one more time... just one more time...

love the girls said...

This youtube leads me to want to listen to State of Fear.


Enbrethiliel said...


Melanie -- Thanks for your vote! No pressure to keep going if it turns out not to be your thing. =) They can't all be The Lord of the World. ;-)

Christopher -- Beetlejuice . . . Beetlejuice . . . Beetle--!

LTG -- I have to wait until later to watch the video, but I thank you for your vote right now. =)

Darwin said...

I haven't read State of Fear, so I vote for Congo. But really, you should reach further into the past and read The Andromeda Strain instead. Of course, Jurassic Park is the standard against which all Crichton novels are measured.

And I'm too lazy to see who's logged in, so if it gets mixed up, I'm just letting you know that this is MrsDarwin.

Enbrethiliel said...


Mrs. Darwin, you're the second person to vote for Congo and to add that The Andromeda Strain is the way to go. If the latter gets a few more mentions, it might win as a write-in!

Shaz said...

Having read both Congo and The Andromeda Strain, my vote is for Jurassic Park. Because raptors rule! :D

Enbrethiliel said...


It's nice to see you again, Shaz! =D

The main reason I don't want to read Jurassic Park first is that everyone seems to think it is Crichton's best novel and I don't want to peak at the beginning. I really would prefer to read it third . . . or fourth . . . or fifth. =P So I'm afraid I can't count your vote, although I totally appreciate the comment! =)

Bob Wallace said...

I've read them both and prefer State of Fear.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Bob! I think we have a winner now. =)