By: Michael Crichton
(Hardcover / Harper Collins / ISBN: 0066214122 / $26.95)
Description: In the Nevada desert, an experiment has 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.
Verdict:I could not put "Prey" down and read it the day I got it, but when it was over I had to scratch my head. The concept is gripping (if self-plagarizing), but the characters are perfunctory and the narrative is as much about story-boards as story-telling. Invoking all the usual Crichton themes, "Prey" involves another tale of corporate greed causing scientists to tinker with nature, only here the creatures are "nanoparticles" rather than dinosaurs. (Didn't any of these greedy corporate scientists read 'Jurassic Park'? Or 'Frankenstein,' for that matter? Don't they know that nature will not be harnessed and controlled?). The particles are a combination of genetic engineering and computer programming, and behave something like the angry swarms in the 1986 horror movie "From Beyond." Crichton is a great teacher, as usual, popularizing cutting-edge technological and scientific theories enough to make the reader feel smarter than the characters, and the story moves briskly and efficiently to a (mostly) satisfactory conclusion. But in the end, "Prey" is a carnival fun ride of a book -- enjoyable but somewhat pointless!
Reviewed by Amy Angel