- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (November 25, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0066214122
- ISBN-13: 978-0066214122
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,268 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Prey Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 25, 2002
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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 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
From Publishers Weekly
From the opening pages of Crichton's electrifying new thriller, his first in three years, readers will know they are in the hands of a master storyteller (Timeline, Jurassic Park, etc.). The book begins with a brief intro noting the concerns of Crichton (and others) with the nascent field of nanotechnology, "the quest to build manmade machinery of extremely small size, on the order of... a hundred billionths of a meter"-for this is a cautionary novel, one with a compelling message, as well as a first-rate entertainment.Rare for Crichton, the novel is told in the first person, by Jack Forman, a stay-at-home dad since he was fired from his job as a head programmer for a Silicon Valley firm. In the novel's first third, Crichton, shades of his Disclosure, smartly explores sexual politics as Jack struggles with self-image and his growing suspicion that his dynamic wife, Julia, a v-p for the technology firm Xymos, is having an affair. But here, via several disturbing incidents, such as Jack's infant daughter developing a mysterious and painful rash, Crichton also seeds the intense drama that follows after Julia is hospitalized for an auto accident, and Jack is hired by Xymos to deal with trouble at the company's desert plant. There, he learns that Xymos is manufacturing nanoparticles that, working together via predator/prey software developed by Jack, are intended to serve as a camera for the military. The problem, as Crichton explains in several of the myriad (and not always seamlessly integrated) science lessons that bolster the narrative, is that groups of simple agents acting on simple instructions, without a central control, will evolve unpredictable, complex behaviors (e.g., termites building a termite mound). To meet deadlines imposed by financial pressures, Xymos has taken considerable risks. One swarm of nanoparticles has escaped the lab and is now evolving quickly-adapting to desert conditions, feeding off mammalian flesh (including human), reproducing and learning mimicry-leading to the novel's shocking, downbeat ending.Crichton is at the top of his considerable game here, dealing with a host of important themes (runaway technology, the deleterious influence of money on science) in a novel that's his most gripping since Jurassic Park. In the long run, this new book won't prove as popular as that cultural touchstone (dinos, nanoparticles aren't), but it'll be a smash hit and justifiably so. Film rights sold to 20th Century Fox; simultaneous abridged and unabridged audiotape and CD editions; large-print edition. (One-day laydown Nov. 25)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I listen to it again & again, and i very often hear stuff I missed the first time. Nuances related to other things in the book. GENIUS!
I'd say my wife & I listen to this two or three times every year, whenever the mood strikes us, and the story never gets old.
Good ol' Amazon just gave me a multiple choice survey on this book.
"Which of these words best describes the mood?" Several options: "Hopeful", "Dark", "Nostalgic", "Light-Hearted", "Suspenseful", and "Thoughtful". While ALL these moods are present at one point or another - I had a tough time choosing between "Dark" and "Suspenseful".
Fast steady pace, with believable, very "true-to-life" characters. Just like real life, the characters are organic, slightly flawed; their perspectives are independent though not necessarily "unique". In short - these are very realistic people.
For parents of small children - this is a perfect example for the rating of "PG-13". In short - "all things being equal", societal standards, and yadda yadda yadda - 13 years old is a good "cut-off age" (give or take a few years, wherever your kid fits on such a scale). There's "some" violence, and mostly innocuous references to sexuality.
Also the narrator George Wilson is perfect! Even modulation, steady, and clear annunciation. Not only is this one of the best "books" but also one of the best audio books too.
Definitely get this fantastic story.
I confess, I like the first part better, and found that part of the book hard to put down. When it got to the technology awry part, I felt like I had read that story before, and skimmed it a little. Not that it wasn't entertaining, it just was too similar in theme to Jurassic Park. I took a second star off for the ending. There was a certain lack of believability and huge discrepancies in the abilities of the nanos. Also some plot holes that I don't think needed nanotechnology to get through. That being said, if you don't over think this, it's a good rollicking comic book of a novel, and great to pass an icy shut-in sort of afternoon.
Does Ricky really need to sound like Hermey, the dentist in Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer? Having that weirdly-juvenile nasal voice assault my ears seriously detracted from the tension in the story. I'd read the book years ago, and recently sprung for Whispersync. I don't completely regret my Audible purchase, but this is one recording I doubt I'll listen to again.
A computer programmer is out of work and keeping house while his wife, an up and coming computer specialist, works. When she starts behaving strangely, he suspects she's having an affair. Worse, he fears she's beginning to document things he says and does in preparation for an 'alienation of affection' suit that will take his children away from him during a divorce.
Then he's offered a contract job for the company she works for. It seems her company bought his program from the company that fired him. They are experiencing problems with it and want him to fix it.
He's afraid he'll be the fall guy -- again -- if the kinks can't be worked out and is hesitant. Then his wife has an accident and things go screwy. It seems the only way he can find out what's going on is to take the contract work.
From then on, it's a nail biter.
I'm not a scientific person, so I don't know about the IT part of this. But it kept me hooked till the last page.
In fact, only days after reading this, I ran across articles on nanotechnology.
Crichton also challenges me in all of his novels (sad he is gone) because I often end up looking up the concepts he presents, in this case, the whole concept of swarm behavior.
Terrifying at times ... and you can't help but wonder if some scientist is making the same kind of mistake today.