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Richter 10 Hardcover – Feb 1 1996

3.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Feb 1 1996
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (Feb. 1 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553097083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553097085
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15.9 x 24.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Two formidable SF talents converge splendidly in this disaster thriller, which offers sleek action-adventure writing, world-class tumult and a coherent near-future based on sound yet innovative social and scientific speculation. Thirty years ago, as a child, Lewis Crane was scarred physically and mentally by the Los Angeles earthquake of 1994. Now he spends his days tracking earthquakes to minimize their damage. He also harbors a secret hope that he can, through a daring plan to fuse the earth's plates by exploding nuclear devices along their fault lines, stop the earthquake menace forever. Lewis is aided and stymied in these actions?and in his attempts to warn of the monster quake implied in the book's title?by a gallery of realistic characters and well-developed political factions, including the suppressed but still potent Nation of Islam, a powerful women's bloc and the Chinese business interests that now really run America. The plot permutations are as rich as the premise and settings, involving maturing characters, shifting allegiances, betrayals, open conflict and hidden agendas. Clarke's trademark technological mysticism and McQuay's tight plotting (as evidenced in his SF detective novels) make for a moving, convincing and engrossing yarn.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Sf guru Clarke (The Hammer of God, LJ 5/15/93) teams up with McQuay (State of Siege, Bantam, 1994) in this novel about a young seismologist in California who pinpoints the location and date of The Big One.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Richter 10 is, inmy opinion, a book to read when you're looking to pass the time. Summer vacation is one example. Prison is another. But whatever the circumstances may be, you will find that Richter 10 is nothing if not interesting.
The author(s) of the book do many things right, while still managing to screw up the story. Surprisingly, it's about an earthquake. Several earthquakes, anyway. Crazy geologist Lewis Crane is hell-bent for revenge on earthquakes after one knocked off his parents in 1994. The book takes place in the early-mid 21st century, and we see several examples of advanced technology. Perhaps some of it is too advanced, but since we went from struggling to get a glider to hang in the air to putting men in space in about 50 years, maybe it is normal.
Anyway, the characters and several parts of the story are not developed very well. We never really get to know the characters, so that when something good or bad happens, we couldn't care less. The characters aren't exactly good people, either. Crane has some good characteristics, but he is pretty much consumed by his power. His assistant, Dan Newcombe, goes from being a humble scientist to a megalomaniac in a few chapters.
The book, though not being too long, drags on for quite a bit. There are ample oppurtunities to end the book, but the author(s) feel the need to keep it alive. Too much of a mediocre thing can be a bad thing.
As another point of negativity, the ending sucks. I won't give it away, but, eh, it wasn't very good.
In closing, I recommend this book to bored people who do not have anything else to do with their time. 50% of the population, in other words.
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Format: Paperback
Fan of A.C.C., I was expecting some great hard-SF depiction of the future. I've found instead an improbable world, dominated by the Chinese and the Islamists (the authors got rid of the Europeans in Israel's nuclear suicide to keep the story at a conveniently simple level). Clarke has never been at ease in describing politics or economics. He prefers simple, idealistic rich universes to fund his original but costly technological ideas. In Richter 10, this unease is evident when you see how flawed the money-raising process is. Arguing that predicting earthquakes will save money is naive to an unbelieve stage. Let's say San Francisco will be destroyed in six months. How can you prevent a huge economical catastrophe (the human costs set aside)? By moving the city somewhere else?
Imagine the impact on real estate insurance, should short-term earthquake prediction be possible. They would never accept to insure buildings destined to be surely destroyed soon by shifting plates, because they are protecting the benefactors against probabilities, not certitude of property destruction.
What would be the impact of earthquake prediction on mortgages? On banking loans to industries potentially threatened? Landowners and proprietors would suffer a critical loss of wealth because the demand for real estate would plummet down.
The incertitude and speculation is the key to the capitalistic system, especially the ultra-liberal one described in the book, which misses the huge social, economic and political consequences of earthquake prediction.
But even in the worst situation, there is still enough funding to keep up the costly hero's work. The most original fund raise in the story is a bet on the precise day of the earthquake.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
To clear up any confusion - Arthur C. Clarke wrote a plot synopsis that he wasn't interested in pursuing. Mike McQuay read the synopsis and fleshed it out into the novel Richter 10. The novel takes place in the near future. The story: a geologist named Lewis Crane is obsessed with stopping earthquakes by fusing the Earth's plates together. To this end, he starts a foundation to predict quakes and render assistance to victims. He comes into conflict with his own employees and a seperatist group called the Nation of Islam (NOI) led by an African American of great charisma. One of Crane's men leaves to join the NOI, setting up the main conflict for the remainder of the novel.
There are some obvious parallels with real life - for example, the leader of the NOI is obviously based on Elijah Mohammed, while the defecting geologist is similar to (but less influential than) Malcolm X. The vision of the future is quite dystopic (and overtly racist) - the U.S. government is a puppet for multinational (Chinese) corporations. However, the novel is not a warning or historical analogy, but simply an adventure story with lots of buildings falling over and tsunamis sweeping people out to sea.
On the whole, it is quite enjoyable. The action is well-written, the technology mostly believable, and the supporting characters well-developed. Unfortunately, the main characters are generally not likable (until, possibly, in the last 50 pages), so it's hard to develop any kind of sympathy for them. In addition, the central scientific tool the geologists use - a working scale model of the Earth - is extremely far fetched. The idea that an earthquake (or any major natural event) could be predicted by a 100-foot model, to an accuracy of a couple of minutes, stretches credulity to the breaking point.
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