Book Cover
Title Prey
Series ---
Author Michael Crichton
Cover Art ---
Publisher HarperCollins - 2003
First Printing HarperCollins - 2002
Category Science Fiction
Warnings Some language, mostly from Charlie

Main Characters

Jack, Julia, Ricky

Main Elements Nanotechnology

In the Nevada desert, an experiment had gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles - micro-robots - has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive.

It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour.

Every attempt to destroy it has failed.

And we are the prey.

This was one of the books that is hard to put down. As usual, Crichton has done a good job of keeping the readers involved in the story, wondering what's going to happen next. For me, it was an interesting switch from my usual sword and sorcery fare. I'm a computer engineer and I found the science behind the book fascinating. And scary. That's one of the things that makes a Michael Crichton novel so good, the underlying possibility that such a thing could happen. Of course, as you're reading you realize it's fiction, and some of the science might have been pushed to its limits (or not, I know nothing about the nanotechnology field), but there is always the potential there that gives one pause.

What if someone really did release an intelligent swarm of nanoparticles that, working together, actually evolved a cunning intelligence and a desire to kill? And even worse, what if it doesn't kill?

A few things I found predictable, or at least I figured out before Jack did. Though I was wrong about how they were going to destroy the swarms. I was convinced I knew exactly how they were going to do it, but nope, it was something completely different! And is a car actually airtight? Somehow I doubt that.

Another thing I liked about the book was the beginning, the whole "stay at home dad" part of the book. Where Jack has to worry about taking the kids to school, and discussing diaper brands in the store with another father. It was funny, and also a little sad. His agent was afraid he couldn't get a job because he'd become a stay at home dad, that employers would think that there must be something wrong about such a guy and wouldn't hire him. Too bad, because I thought he was a great guy. Ricky, on the other hand, creeped me out to no end.

One last comment, it was in essence rather similar to his famous Andromeda Strain. Don't get me wrong, the "bad guy" has a very different nature. Also the nature of the story differs, The Andromeda Strain is mostly psychological, while Prey is more physical action. But having read the other years ago, it kept popping into my mind at various moments. I don't know if that is a good, bad or neutral thing. At the very least it is good for the Andromeda Strain, just proves how memorable that one was.

Posted: May 2008


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