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   Trigger, The, by Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Kube-McDowell  
  Novel, first publication in September 1999 , latest edition in September 2000
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      The early 21st century ushers in a revolution in unified field theory, and free-thinking physicist Jeffrey Horton and his team are pushing the cutting edge. Sequestered on a maximum-security research campus, the scientists are testing "Baby," a device they hope will create "a laser for gravity," a tractor beam. But during an early run, every gun in the area (and even a secret stash of fireworks) simultaneously explodes. Follow-up tests soon prove their device was responsible--that it can in fact neutralize every conventional gun, bomb, and explosive--and that's when Baby becomes the "Trigger."

    This speculative novel by sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke and genre workman Michael Kube-McDowell follows the vast sea changes such an invention would bring, reading as part thriller, part social tract. Horton and his Trigger follow a course not unlike that of Einstein and the A-bomb, but ratcheted up by an order of magnitude--idealistic scientists, overwhelmed politicians, rabid lobbyists, and entrenched generals must deal with the device's deployment and consequences, both political and social, in a gun-rich, gun-dependent culture. A well-researched, plausible plot line keeps The Trigger not just readable but downright engrossing, despite its sometimes distracting lack of subtlety. All in all, a worthwhile, entertaining meditation on how technological progress always proves as unpredictable as it is inevitable.

    Source: Paul Hughes,

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