Science and the conspiracy: a review of “Ordinary Thunderstorms”

There is no substantive science in William Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms, william boydthough the principal character, Adam Kindred (presumably so-named as an everyman and brother), is a scientist who sees his life turned inside-out when he witnesses the murder of another scientist.

But the book – which is a real page turner if ultimately unsatisfying on many levels – offers a window on to how many do see science: in the grip of amoral big business, and corrupted by commercial pressure.

Of course, there is no smoke without fire, and there is no doubt that many of the practices of the pharmaceutical industry – on which the book concentrates – are against the interests of patients and broader science.

But the conspiracy theory of science – as presented here – is the dominant narrative. That is why works such as Contagion are such a blast of fresh air.