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Prey [Hardcover]

Michael Crichton
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 25 2002

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.

As fresh as today's headlines, Michael Crichton'smost compelling novel yet tells the story of a mechanical plague and the desperate efforts of a handful of scientists to stop it. Drawing on up-to-the-minute scientific fact, Prey takes us into the emerging realms of nanotechnology and artificial distributed intelligence -- in a story of breathtaking suspense. Prey is a novel you can't put down.

Because time is running out.

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From Amazon

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By indru
Why dont most people like sci-Fi novels? especially Greg Bear and Arthur.C.Clarke, because they concentrate more on science rather than entertainment. Michael Crichton is the only author who is not handicapped by this habit. One thing that is really good about crichton's novels is that you will never keep the book down in the middle. This time too, MC has not let us down. The book guarantees 100% entertainment. For those who fel that reading novels is a waste of time. I would advice you to read any MCs books as you will learn a lot about the subject than by reading a couple of scientific journals. "Prey" concentrates on AI, genetics and Nanotechnology. After 1/3rd of the novel, the pace picks up a speed that you would never have imagined. This is definitely not one of MC's best novels, but definitely he gives you more than you would have expected from the book. My advice is, get the hard back and have a nice time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good technological thriller May 10 2004
Format:Audio Cassette
Jack Forman used to run a program division at MediaTronics, supervising a group of young and talented computer programmers. After Jack' division's source code had been stolen, his boss Don Gross put him in charge of security. But then Jack found out that certain "irregularities" took place at MediaTronics and, advised by his attorney Gary Marder, resigned from his job and became a "househusband". Now he is coping with all the chores at home, looking after his three children.
Jack's wife Julia works for Xymos Technology, developing technology in what the company calls "molecular manufacturing" or nanotechnology. Since she is the vice president, she is not often present at home.
The plot starts picking up when Julia is severely injured in a car accident, the circumstances of which seem rather mysterious. At the same time, Jack is asked by Tim Bergman to take a consulting job with Xymos. But when Jack joins Xymos at an isolated, sate-of-the-art facility in Nevada, he soon discovers that the technology the company is doing research on is far from flawless...
Perfect suspense combined with lots of technology, this is one of Mr Crichton's most entertaining novels.
George Wilson reading "Prey" is a remarkable performance. I highly recommend this audio book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Notes about the audio presentation ... Feb. 1 2004
Format:Audio CD
I am an audio book "reader". I have a 35-minute ride to work each day and love using my time productively by listening to books on CD. Since most reviewers read books the traditional way -- which supposedly explains why I have to pay extra for audio books :) -- reviews are almost always for the printed version. Thus, I'm left to cross my fingers and hope for a good reader. I always find myself wishing for information on the quality of the reader's presentation. So, for this review, I'm focusing on the audio presentation, since the various other reviewers have covered the content of the book in great depth. My dream scenario is when the author reads the book. Somehow I equate this with being as close as possible to being inside their head. Alas, not all writers are good readers, so thank God there are excellent readers like Leonard Robert Sean. I really enjoyed his presentation. His vocal inflection was great, and his voice is very pleasant. He did a great job with the various characters in the story. So, fear not, my fellow audio format enthusiast, the presentation is extremely well done for Prey. As for the story, I liked it a lot. I couldn't wait to go to (and leave) work each day so I could hear what would happen next in the story. The whole premise is especially worrisome since nanotechnology is real and nanoparticles already exist in our world today. Hopefully our government has responsible people involved. Or maybe we are all already infected :) Bottom line: The audio presentation rates "5" stars and the story rates "4" stars. Average them up, and you get 4.5 stars. Since Amazon doesn't offer me that choice, it seems fairest to let my ranking reflect the "4" stars for the story itself. Enjoy!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars THEY'RE HERE... Jan. 23 2004
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
This is another fast-paced, bio-tech thriller by this author. Expertly weaving his narrative, the author grips the reader with his tale of nanotechnology gone wrong. While the book is wholly plot driven, with little attention paid to any character development. this lack does not unduly detract from the enjoyment of the book, as the plot is so gripping.
The plot revolves around stay at home dad, Jack Forman, who was a whistle-blower about some high-tech espionage going on in the company for which he worked. Unfortunately, he revealed what he had discovered it to the wrong person and, consequently, was fired for his pains. While at home, he notices that his wife, who is a mover and a shaker for a bio-tech firm, has been acting a little odd and suspects her of an illicit affair.
When her company wants to hire him to check out some programming problems at their Nevada facility, Jack jumps at the opportunity. He then discovers that the firm has engaged in an experiment that has gone out of control. A swarm of nanoparticles, designed as micro-robots and programmed to act as one mind, has escaped from the environs of the firm's desert laboratory. Programmed to be predatory, the swarm is deadly and evolving into something even more sinister with every passing moment.
Moreover, he notices that it isn't only his wife that is acting a little odd. Others at the facility with the swarm problem are also acting a little strange. All is definitely not what it seems. The only question is whether Jack, with the help of the scientists at the facility, can take control of the swarm before the swarm overwhelms and controls them.
This book keeps the reader riveted, despite the fairly predictable, formulaic plot.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Crichton-style nanotechnology
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 more
Published 2 months ago by Anakina
5.0 out of 5 stars michael crichton
awesome book. I could not put it down. I am looking forward to reading more of his writings when I have time
Published 10 months ago by del
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but very fun, an easy, quick read
Prey is the best of the later Crichton's. Yes, as some have indicated, it's formulaic, right down to the "start up" venture capitalized company. But, it's just darned fun, anyway. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Derek Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars In popularizing technology
It has been said that Crichton's common theme is the evils of technology - in this case how nanotechnology can take over the world. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2007 by Vick
5.0 out of 5 stars Had the Audio Cassettes-- they were Great!!
Really- one of the bests books on tape I've had the pleasure
of listening to. The story was fastpaced and downright creepy. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by M. Jorden
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another Crichton masterpiece
Even though Michael Crichton's books often start out slow, that is because he is building characters and a world around them for the reader to believe in before taking us on... Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Mick
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Auidobook version
STORY: As one editorial put so nicely: "Today the quest is to make machines that would be about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2003 by Erik1988
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining, intriguing book
Michael Crichton's latest work comes in a most unexpected way. I found Prey to be a refreshing change from the usual Sci-Fi novel fare. Read more
Published on June 20 2003 by Michael Pappalardo
1.0 out of 5 stars Prey For All Of Us
Michael Crichton must have phoned this one in. I've never written a review before but I felt this novel was such a stinker I had to respond. I think I've read all his books. Read more
Published on June 20 2003 by J P Bowen
3.0 out of 5 stars Crichton is Starting to Slip; Prey Just Another Book
Okay. If I compare Prey to the other novels that Crichton has written, it is not going to stand up too well. Read more
Published on June 18 2003
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