"The Trigger", Arthur C. Clarke/Michael Kube-McDowell, 2000,
%A Arthur C. Clarke
%A Michael Kube-McDowell
%C 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
%I Bantam Books/Doubleday/Dell
%O http://www.bdd.com webmaster@...
%P 626 p.
%T "The Trigger"
It sometimes seems as if the recent spate of Clarke Collaborations is
an attempt to do in science fiction what Paul Erdos did in
mathematical literature (cf BKMBRNOP.RVW).
The eponymous "trigger" is a device that will explode (or, later,
render impotent) any gunpowder or explosives. The book is an attempt
to explore the complex social ramifications of such a technology. The
book is not simplistic in examining the issues, but is ultimately
quite limited. The major conflict deals with the proponents of the
use of the technology against a collection of gun advocates, the least
irrational of which is a thinly disguised National Rifle Association.
Therefore, the main discussions in the novel will make little sense
for those who are not thoroughly familiar with the Second Amendment to
the Constitution of the United States of America.
Absent some minor discussions of the chemistry and formulation of
explosives, and a completely unexplained foray into optical wave
dynamics, there is no real technology involved in this book. The
trigger technology never does develop a theoretical basis. Indeed, in
the only attempt to do so, the narrative seems to imply that the
trigger is the long-fabled philosopher's stone--and then blithely
abandons that intriguing possibility.
More than plot potential is discarded in this work. Characters, loose
ends, Futurians, red herrings, tests, villains, suppositions, and
voyages to other planets are left hanging throughout the book like
half of a shoe store's stock waiting to drop. However sympathetic the
personae populating the story it is difficult, in the end, to really
care about any of them: how do you know whether it is going to be
worth the effort of working up any emotional contact with someone who
may disappear, never to be heard from again, on the next page?
The book winds up with a rather ironic contradiction of itself.
Towards the end we find a speech that is should affect us deeply. (It
is clear that we are to be stirred by this address: we are told so in
the book.) It addresses the lamentable tendency of a creatively
bankrupt entertainment industry to turn, when all else fails, to
murders and mayhem that are completely at odds with with reality. Why
then, in a last ditch attempt to introduce tension to a book notably
lacking in force, do we finish up with kidnapping, torture, and
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2002 BKTRIGGR.RVW 20020425
====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
Inside some of us is a thin person struggling to get out,
but he can usually be sedated with a few pieces of chocolate cake.