by Michael Crichton
Review by Steve Sawicki
Harper Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061782671
Date: 28 April 2009 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Harry Benson has a medical condition. He gets seizures, uncontrollable, violent ones. He is also under police guard for attacking two people. There does not appear to be a solution. At least not until Dr. Roger McPherson, head of the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit at University Hospital in Los Angeles comes up with a procedure called Stage 3.
The procedure involves sticking electrodes into Benson's brain and then using a computer to send monitored, soothing pulses to the pleasure centers. This should, alleviate the seizures and the attacks. the only problem is that the pulses are, indeed pleasurable and Benson soon learns how to control them. Not only can he control them but he increases their frequency, and, essentially, can use them to his advantage. But, Benson is a homicidal maniac and what he considers to be his advantage is surely going to be a disadvantage to everyone else in the city. He can be stopped. At least they think he can.
For a book that came out ten years ago this is amazingly fresh. The research that Crichton uses is still cutting edge today and the effects he details could still happen. I don't know if this speaks more to Crichton's ability to see that far ahead, to the field's slowness in getting there, or to some ethical consideration that may have stepped in a stopped things from getting this far along. Whatever the case the book is as relevant now as it was then.
Simply put,if you like Crichton then you'll like this book. His ability to take a simple idea and then project it forward to dire consequences is showcased perfectly here. The tight plotting and driven characterization is also present leaving you with a book that is fascinating and hard to put down. A must read for all Crichton fans and not a bad book if you've not read any Crichton up to this point. Interesting, twisted, driven and more entertaining than you would imagine. Highly recommended.