Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Boiling Point"

Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of Freezing Point, a science thriller nominated by RT Book Reviews as Best First Mystery of 2008.

Dionne is cofounder of the online writers community Backspace, and organizes the Backspace Writers Conferences held in New York City every year. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Thriller Writers, where she currently serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology. She is also Managing Editor of the International Thriller Writers' newsletter and webzine, The Big Thrill.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her second environmental thriller, Boiling Point, about an erupting volcano, a missing researcher, and a radical scheme to end global warming, and reported the following:
Chapter 12

Philippe checked his watch as the jet’s engine pitch dropped and the landing gear doors ground open. He tapped his fingers against the armrest, fidgeted in his seat, leaned forward and punched the keys on his laptop to check the Chaitén data again. Not that he expected to see a change since he had looked two minutes ago, but he had to do something. If there was one thing about his life that he could forever and irrevocably change, it would be the hours he’d wasted waiting. People thought the reason he didn’t travel was because he was reclusive, that he didn’t like people, that he preferred his company to theirs. Their assessments were patently true. He had no tolerance for small talk, didn’t suffer fools. Social gatherings were a particularly tedious torture when you were consistently the smartest person in the room (a conclusion his first wife had once attempted to refute, but the determination was self-evident: how could you not know you were the smartest person present when you were?).
Interestingly, page 69 features Boiling Point’s villain, Philippe (Dr. Philippe Honoré Dumas ), a Nobel-winning scientist who’s taken it upon himself to solve the problem of global warming through geoengineering – specifically, by seeding the atmosphere with sulfur dioxide particles under the guise of an erupting volcano, thus blocking the amount of sunlight reaching the earth and cooling the planet.

Philippe is not your typical thriller villain. He cares deeply for the Earth. He loves his step-daughter, Sheila Kennedy, another of the book’s main characters, and while he doesn’t yet realize it at this point in the story, his relationship with his long-time assistant, Stéphanie, is also about to change.

Philippe’s one great flaw, however, is exhibited in his thinking on page 69 above: his elevated opinion of himself – his hubris, really – which leads him to believe that he and he alone can save the planet.

While page 69 doesn’t include any action, Boiling Point is definitely a thriller (the book has a 40-page climax that takes place IN the caldera of an erupting volcano). The novel also explores the deep divisions in the political, environmental, and scientific communities regarding what should be done about global warming, highlighting the scope of the problem while raising the question: Can anyone know what’s best for the earth?
Learn more about the book and author at Karen Dionne's website and blog.

Writers Read: Karen Dionne.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue