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REVIEW: "The Trigger", Arthur C. Clarke/Michael Kube-McDowell

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKTRIGGR.RVW 20020425 The Trigger , Arthur C. Clarke/Michael Kube-McDowell, 2000, 0-553-57620-8 %A Arthur C. Clarke %A Michael Kube-McDowell %C 1540
    Message 1 of 1 , May 6, 2002
      BKTRIGGR.RVW 20020425

      "The Trigger", Arthur C. Clarke/Michael Kube-McDowell, 2000,
      %A Arthur C. Clarke
      %A Michael Kube-McDowell
      %C 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
      %D 2000
      %G 0-553-57620-8
      %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.
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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