For about ninety per cent of its length, one might be forgiven for describing Windsor Chorlton's Cold Fusion as just another techno-thriller. But then it rises above itself, so to speak, and becomes something rather more valuable (at least to me): that is, a moving novel about human relationships.
Windsor Chorlton is a former senior editor of Time-Life Books, but now writes full-time. Before producing Cold Fusion, in 1999, he had written four other thrillers, but so far as I can discover he hasn't written one since then. However, unless there are two of him, he has written quite a lot of non-fiction, including books on weapons technology and silicone chips.
Cold Fusion is set in a not-too-distant future, after the earth's weather systems have been severely thrown out of kilter following the impact of a large meteorite. In particular, much of North America is now uninhabitable other than by polar bears.
It is in this world that a character called John Cope wakes up from a lengthy coma. Dr Mhairi Magnusson specialises in memory-retrieval and she is recruited to trawl Cope's brain for clues to his identity. In doing so she uncovers -- quote -- the horrors of his past and a yet more terrible future -- unquote.
There is, of course, a malevolent big-business company involved -- Zygote Investments. And Cope and Magnusson have the usual adventures which make for better reading in full than they do in summary. But this thriller does, as I say, distinguish itself from the more run of the mill stuff by concentrating on human affairs rather than pure technology.
It struck me while I was reading this book that most readers, even those who themselves have experience of writing, tend to underestimate the amount of effort and time that goes into writing a book like this. And there is a problem in that, apart from the sheer drudgery and labour.
The problem is that most books don't sell enough copies to justify the time and effort. And perhaps Chorlton's books fell into that category, admirable though his fifth one is. Perhaps that's why he seems only to have written non-fiction since.