THE TRIGGER by Arthur C. Clarke


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First collaboration from SF grandmaster Clarke (3001: The Final Odyssey, etc.) and Kube-McDowell (The Quiet Pools, 1990). Physicist Jeffrey Horton tests what he hopes is an antigravity device, but instead his machine generates a field that detonates nitrate-based fuels and explosives! Horton and his boss, Karl Brohier, take their Trigger to President Mark Breland. Breland’s dilemma: bury the notion—and risk someone else discovering it? Keep it exclusively for the US—but for how long? Or inform the world? What follows, though punctuated by dramatic illustrations, is largely a prolonged debate between enlightened peaceniks and old-style military mind-sets, armaments and gun lobbies, armed hate groups, and organized crime, demonstrating that what’s invented cannot be uninvented. Fur and lawsuits fly. At last Horton and Brohier make a theory breakthrough: matter is composed of energy inside an information envelope, and the Trigger alters that information. (This, unfortunately, is as persuasive as it gets.) The military contemplate using nukes in their all-out efforts to negate the Trigger effect. Horton resigns in disgust and disappears. Brohier invents the Jammer, a significant upgrade. An evil reactionary assassinates a pro-Trigger senator on live TV. Nevertheless, crime continues to fall, while Americans develop a sense of community. Finally, crazy backwoods militiamen grab the reclusive Horton and torture him to reveal the supposed secrets behind what they regard as conspiracies and tricks. Heavy, preachy, and only intermittently absorbing: the authors get their message across, but it’s about as subtle as a plummeting piano.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-553-10458-6
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Spectra/Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000


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