Prey Paperback – 4 Aug 2003
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In Prey, bestselling author Michael Crichton introduces bad guys that are too small to be seen with the naked eye but who are no less deadly or intriguing than the runaway dinosaurs that made 1990's Jurassic Park such a blockbuster success. High-tech whistle-blower Jack Forman used to specialise in programming computers to solve problems by mimicking the behaviour of efficient wild animals--swarming bees or hunting hyena packs, for example. Now he's unemployed and is finally starting to enjoy his new role as stay-at-home dad. All would be domestic bliss if it were not for Jack's suspicions that his wife, who's been behaving strangely and working long hours at the top-secret research labs of Xymos Technology, is having an affair.
When he's called in to help with her hush-hush project, it seems like the perfect opportunity to see what she's been doing, but Jack quickly finds there's a lot more going on in the lab than an illicit affair. Within hours of his arrival at the remote testing centre, Jack discovers his wife's firm has created self-replicating nanotechnology--a literal swarm of microscopic machines. Originally meant to serve as a military eye in the sky, the swarm has now escaped into the environment and is seemingly intent on killing the scientists trapped in the facility. The reader realises early, however, that Jack, his wife and their fellow scientists have more to fear from the hidden dangers within the lab than from the predators without.
The monsters may be smaller in this book, but Crichton's skill for suspense has grown, making Prey a scary read that's hard to set aside. It's not without minor flaws: the science in this novel requires more explanation than did the cloning of dinosaurs, leading to lengthy and sometimes dry academic lessons. And while the coincidence of Xymos's new technology running on the same program that Jack created keeps the plot moving, it may be more than some readers can swallow. But thanks in part to a sobering foreword in which Crichton warns of the real dangers of technology that continues to evolve more quickly than common sense, Prey succeeds in gripping readers with a tense and frightening tale of scientific suspense. --Benjamin Reese --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘One of the most ingenious, inventive thriller writers around … Prey sees him doing what he does best – taking the very latest scientific advances and showing us their potentially terrifying underbelly. Another high-concept treat … written in consummate page-turning style … fascinating.’
‘This is Crichton on top form, preying on our fears about new technology and convincing us that we aren’t half as afraid as we should be.’
‘Mixing cutting-edge science with thrills and spills, this is classic Crichton.’
‘Reading Crichton is like taking a speed-reading course, your eyes flying across the page because you're completely gripped and desperate to know what’s going to happen next.’
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Top Customer Reviews
carved in Crichton's trademark style of taking an emerging technology and
showing how it can run amuck in the wild. This time around he takes three
emerging technologies - genetics, distributed intelligence and nanotechnology
and brews up a terrifying tale of science gone well awry. One criticism often
levelled at Crichton's door has always been with regard to his characterisation
playing second fiddle to his plot. With 'Prey' the plot is so inventive and
'out-there' that no character could compete. Having said that, I must add that
this first-person narrative has very interesting protagonists, with probably
his most well painted landscape yet.
The story starts off in a most straight-forward manner, where software guru
Jack is living the life of a house-husband after being fired from a shady
Silicon Valley firm. He suspects that his wife Julia (a high-powered computer
executive) is having an affair. She is spending more and more time at her
firm's (Xymos Corporation) experimental fabrication plant in the barren desert
of Nevada. Xymos are having a few problems with its prototype nano-device and
so Jack is hired to investigate.
The narrative is loaded with technical details on the three technologies, among
others and this makes for a very enjoyable and plausible read, if you like
techno-thrillers. Crichton then pits man against the swarm of nano-particles in
a time-constrained thriller, which caused me two conflicts. Firstly, I wanted
to zip through the pages like a madman to reach the conclusion, but at the same
time I wanted to read slowly to absorb the concepts that 'Prey' outlined.Read more ›
In "Prey", the science gone mad is nanotechnology, something which is mentioned in William Gibson's later novels and featured in the "Jason X" movie.
The hero is a WASP in midlife crisis: fired from his hi-tech job, house bound with high flying wife who works on cutting edge technology, and struggling to keep the kids at home happy.
Something goes wrong in the Nevada desert where his wife is working on a project. Something goes very wrong. Our hero must investigate and fight science with science.
"Prey" works very well being told in first person perspective which makes it different from "Jurassic Park" on that basis alone.
What you get is a very well written novel, with good clear explanations of nanotechnology and (forced) extrapolation of what is possible. I say forced because it is just believable - just, but not completely ludicrous. There are also elements of "ET", 1970's killer bee disaster movie, and a bit of "Disclosure"(the hero's power mad wife could be Mederith reincarnate) put in for good measure.
A good read. Very entertaining. If you want another "Jurassic Park" style thrill, read this novel.
In many ways it's remeniscent of his other books ("The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park" come to mind) and, I feel, is poorer in comparison. The main reason being the fact that's it's written in the first person. This limits the number of subplots so it loses the richness of the other books. After all (with the exception of one scene) you only know what's happening to the hero of the book. As most people seem to agree, the characterisation is poorer in this one.
That aside it is a good read. The pace, once we get to the lab, is fast and the explanations of the technology comprehensive. There are one or two plot twists.
When you read the disclaimer at the end (which is not the standard disclaimer) you realise what drove Crichton to write this. He fears that it might really happen. He has a bibliography in case the reader wants to find out more about current research in the field.
It's an exciting, fast-paced novel which is based on research. On the other hand, the concern that Crichton has has made this book slightly more "plot heavy" and "character light". If you're looking for a light read then it's worth a try, if you like the characterisation that Crichton normally manages then you're in for a disappointment.
The plot is simple enough - a secretive company is experimenting with nanotechology for dubious purposes, the technology escapes and starts to mutate in the wild, and another 'innocent' scientist is brought in to try and solve the problem. Oh, and conveniently, he's a programmer who wrote the code the technology is partly based on - but he didn't know that.
The action sequences are good enough, if you find a mystical black dust threatening. However, the real problems stem from the illogical plot holes and plain bad science that plagues the book like the aforementioned black dust. It's not that Crichton hasn't done his research - he positively harps on about the fact that he's read tons of the relevant papers. It's that he then uses the terms and techniques of nanotechnology and distributed computer systems in the most vague and illogical of ways. As is often said of certain woolly scientific press releases, in this book Crichton is "fully buzzword compliant."
To add insult to injury, Crichton blatantly contradicts his own science when it suits his plot. Thus we are treated to a discourse on how the threat is 'distributed' and 'emergent' and 'entirely unpredictable' when he's harping his monsters in a tense sequence.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Originally read Prey a number of years ago and loved it just as much this time around! Anyone that's a fan of tech books, sci-fi, or reading about what is just around the corner... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Muir Langley
I loved this book although I didn't understand half of the technical aspects of it. Because of my not understanding all of it, I found that there was a lot of info dumps that I... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dianne
It is difficult to review a novel of the "master" without repeating myself, since, whatever the story, all his writings are characterized by the ability of gluing us to the... Read morePublished on 11 July 2014 by Anakina
Prey - Michael Crichton *****
My second book by the author, the first being the very mediocre Pirates Latitude. Read more