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Prey Mass Market Paperback – Nintendo, October 28, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 1,278 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Prey, bestselling author Michael Crichton introduces bad guys that are too small to be seen with the naked eye but 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 specialize in programming computers to solve problems by mimicking the behavior 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 his wife'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 center, 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 realizes early, however, that Jack, his wife, and 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, though not without its 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 Jack created at his previous job 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.

From Publishers Weekly

The concept of nanotechnology can be traced back to a 1959 speech given by physicist Richard Feynman, in which he offered to pay $1,000 to "the first guy who makes an operating electric motor... which is only 1/64-inch cube." Today the quest is to make machines that would be about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Enter Jack Forman, a recently unemployed writer of predator/prey software, whose nearly absentee wife, Julia, is a bigwig at a tech firm called Xymos. When a car accident hospitalizes Julia, Xymos hires Jack to deal with problems at their desert nanotechnology plant. The techies at this plant have developed nanomachines, smaller than dust specks, which are programmed with Jack's predator/prey software. Not only is a swarm of those nanomachines loose and multiplying, but they appear to be carnivorous. The desert swarms are the least of Jack's worries, however, as the crew inside the plant are not entirely what they seem. Like Jurassic Park, this "it could happen" morality tale is gripping from the start, and Wilson's first-person reading as Jack sets the pace. His confident, flinty voice and his no-nonsense delivery makes this a solid presentation of a high-speed techno-thriller. Crichton gives the audio an air of sobering authenticity by reading its cautionary foreword himself.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 9/28/08 edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061703087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061703089
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,278 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on November 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Just as "Jurassic Park" was a cautionary tale for the dangers of tampering with the genetic code, so to is "Prey" a warning. This time, Michael Crichton has chosen to explore the potential and hazards of nanotechnology; the fashioning of robots at the molecular level. The power of these machines is that they are small enough to go anywhere, and their capabilities are limited only by human creativity. However, since they are so small, they need to be able to apply adaptive learning in order to accomplish their assigned tasks, and that's where the trouble starts.
The novel begins with Jack Forman, stay at home dad, and long time, but currently unemployed software engineer, shopping for placemats. This touch of normalcy sets up an environment where Crichton can rapidly ratchet up the tension, as an all-American home life turns distinctly scary. Moreover, Crichton has written the book in the first person, so the reader really has the opportunity to roam around Jack's head. As a result, Jack may be the best character Crichton has written to date. His emotions leap off the page, and his thought processes allow Crichton to seamlessly integrate necessary expository elements into the flow of the novel.
Of course, Jack doesn't remain the house-husband for long. It turns out that there are problems at Xymos Corporation, where his wife is a vice-president. It seems that they've lost control of some of the nano-particle swarms that they were working on, and they need Jack to help bring them back into the fold. As it turns out, Jack wrote an early version of the software (which is based upon predator-prey relationships) that is being used as the brains behind the swarm.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first started reading Prey, I noticed something that I'd never seen in any of the other Crichton novels I've read. He immediately plunges into the character of Jack Forman, an unemployed computer programmer and current "house-dad" who is beginning to suspect that his wife was having an affair, writing in the first person. By using the first-person perspective, he makes the character more real by directly stimulating a reader with the thoughts and emotions of a single character, something he hasn't tried in any of his other books that I've read. A reader sees the growth and development of Jack as he has to further deal with the new micro-camera swarms that are being developed at his wife's start-up company Xymos when he is called in to review some of the computer code at the company's Nevada fabrication plant.
In terms of the science topics discussed in Prey, Crichton does a marvelous job of introducing and tying together genetics, nanotechnology, and computer science into the race against the rapid swarm evolution within the text. As always, he takes many pauses to inform a reader to the meaning and importance of many scientific terms involved in the book. For those less ignorant to the material than others, the reviews can get a little cumbersome.
Overall, I thought Prey was a strong read. Here's to an amazing writer who always does his homework. (if nothing else, his three page biliography at the end of the book clearly shows Crichton's dedication to his work)
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Format: Hardcover
First off, I'm a die-hard Michael Crichton fan...absolutely LOVE his stuff...however -- 'Prey' is definitely a 'formula' novel...most notably a Crichton formula novel which borrow extensively from previous works like 'Jurassic Park' & 'Timeline'. If you have read many of his other novels, this formula will become immediately apparent: Big corporation is messing with technology they don't fully understand nor appreciate, and in the process unleash something baaaad. First it was the Dinosaurs when InGen toyed around with genetic manipulation where they shouldn't have...next we have a very similar company in 'Timeline' that wanted to send the elite on once-in-a-lifetime trips through time, using science again that was a bit beyond our control and now we have nanotechnology in 'Prey' that provides a frightening look at what *could* happen should this kind of near-future science fall into the hands of those who attempt to use it for all the wrong reasons.
Just because Crichton is using his 'formula' here, that doesn't mean he doesn't provide us with some great cliff-hangers and genuine surprises along the way...his writing talent is far too refined to have forgotten how to pull a few strings with the readers. 'Prey' begins with poor Jack, a reluctant house-husband with a wife who has quickly become one of the powerhouse leaders at Xymos (you guessed it, the 'big corporation' that funds experiments that go horribly wrong). Her sudden and suspiciously odd actions make Jack begin to suspect that she (Julia) just might be having an affair. He pushes this thought away every time more and more evidence begins to mount that this is no longer a theory and more likely a fact.
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Format: Hardcover
In 'Prey,' Michael Chrichton continues to stay at the forefront of scientific and technological issues to write a thriller. In 'Jurassic Park', Chrichton tackled genetic cloning, and this time around he addresses the field of nanotechnology. For the uninitiated, nanotechnology is a field of science concerned with creating microscopic machines to carry out real world functions (which is probably a grossly inadequate description of the field).
Jack Forman is an unemployed programmer. His area of specialty is agent based programming. When not searching for a new job, Jack stays at home while his wife, Julia, goes to work for a company involved in nanotechnology. In a sharp departure from past novels, Chrichton tells Jack's story in the first person, which is especially efective in the first half of the book. At the opening of the book, Jack begins to notice odd behavior in his wife. She has become blunt and short tempered with him and the kids. Jack begins to suspect an affair.
The first third of the book is probably the best part. In addition to Julia's odd behavior, things start happening around the house. One night, Jack awakes to find his baby daughter screaming bloody murder while a rash breaks out across her body. After a trip to the emergency room, everything at home seems to be a little out of place. Then some minor electronics begin to fail around the house and Jack discovers a suspicious looking surge protector beneath the baby's crib. Chrichton is incredibly successful at establishing an eerie atmosphere in which the reader is just on the edge of comprehending what is going on.
The book moves into it second phase when Julia is involved in a car crash. Jack suspects, for reasons you'll find adequately laid out in the book, that her new project is somehow involved.
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