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Richter 10   by Arthur C. Clarke, Mike McQuay

Read: 2003-06-06 Reviewed: 2004-03-28
Re-read factor:
Forget that Arthur Clarke has his name on the book (although I admit I wouldn't have read it otherwise); the book was written entirely by Mike McQuay. I was expecting a tedious train of volcanic eruptions, with each one getting bigger than the last until the final crescendo finishes the book off. Actually, Mike does a terrific job of developing the characters, and sculpts interesting backdrops to the action (yes, they are mostly volcanoes, but the settings are described in enough detail that you feel inside buildings with a volcano for a backdrop rather than just being plonked on top of one; the sets are almost like what you see in James Bond films).

The science fiction's not bad either. A brilliant scientist works out (mostly due to results produced by his co-workers) that he can completely stabilize the earth's crust by inducing seismic activity. But he alienates his colleagues by going to the press with fantastic predictions of things that are about to happen, and he takes all the credit for the research. While he gets richer and richer, his former comrades continue the slow process of scientific research, and work out refinements to the process. After a time (and some romantic entanglements) they work out what the main man is trying to do.

Unfortunately, the final big bang is sabotaged, and the reunited team of scientists have to risk life, limb, and the well-being of loved ones to save the day.

It's a hugely entertaining read, and the final irony is that the relationship between the (extraordinary) characters seems almost to parallel the relationship between the true architect of this work and the man who takes the credit for it.

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