Amazon Exclusive: “Micro is Anything But Small” by James Rollins
An avid spelunker and scuba enthusiast, James Rollins holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and is the author of the New York Times best-selling Sigma Force series, the most recent of which is The Devil Colony.
First I have to admit, Michael Crichton is why I write. In fact, if not for his books, I’d probably still be a practicing veterinarian in Northern California, dealing with flea allergies, ear infections, and all manner of medical maladies. It was Crichton’s stories of wild adventures, his explorations into the strange frontiers of science, and his truly ripped-from-the-headlines plotting that inspired me to set down my own scalpel and stethoscope and pick up pen and paper.
But his influence went beyond mere heady inspiration. His books also served as a tutorial into the practicalities of storytelling. When I tackled my first novel (a deep-earth adventure titled Subterranean), I continually kept a copy of Jurassic Park on the shelf above my desk. That book became my roadmap on how to build a story’s structure: who dies first and when, at what point do we see the first dinosaur, how do you fold science into a novel without stagnating the flow? That old copy of Jurassic Park remains dog-eared and heavily highlighted, and it still holds a cherished place on my bookshelf.
So I dove into Crichton’s latest novel, Micro, with some trepidation, fearing how a collaborative effort might tarnish his great body of work. Now, to be fair, I’d also read Richard Preston’s nonfiction masterpiece of scientific horror and intrigue, The Hot Zone. That book was as brilliant as it was terrifying. But still I wondered, could Preston take Crichton’s story and truly do it justice?
In a word: YES.
In two words, HELL YES.
Micro is pure Crichton. Dare I say, vintage Crichton, harkening back to the scientific intrigue of Andromeda Strain, to the exploration of the natural world covered in Congo, and to the adventure and thrills of The Lost World. As only Crichton can, he has taken a scientific concept as wild as the one he tackled in Timeline and exceeded in making it chillingly real. It took a clever quirk of genetics and cloning to give rise to the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Likewise, a twist of science in Micro calls forth a new horror out of the natural world—but not just one line of threat. In this book, the entire biosphere becomes a vast and deadly playground. Its depiction is both darkly beautiful and stunningly dreadful. It is a terrain as foreign as any hostile planet, yet as close as our own backyard. To tell more would ruin a great adventure that will have you looking out your window with new eyes.
Similarly, this lethal and toxic terrain must be traversed by a band of gutsy heroes. But in typical Crichton style, these are not elite commandos or a highly trained black ops team. They’re simply a group of graduate students—each uniquely talented and flawed—gathered from various scientific disciplines: entomology, toxicology, botany, biochemistry. They must learn to combine resources and ingenuities to survive and ultimately thwart a danger threatening to break free into the world at large, all the while pursued by a sociopath as cunning as he is sadistic.
In the end, Micro has everything you’d expect in a Crichton novel—and so much more. But the greatest achievement here is a simple and profound one: with this novel, the legacy of a true master continues to shine forth in all its multifaceted glory. And someone somewhere will read this novel, turn the last page, and in a great aura of awe and inspiration, come to a realization: I want to try to write stories like that.
And they will.