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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
Format:Hardcover
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 Crichton-style nanotechnology July 11 2014
By Anakina
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 pages until the end and on the other hand by the fact that they explore a new topic, always teaching us something new.
It also happens in "Prey". The topic is nanotechnology and the theme of the scientific experiment that escapes from the hands of those who executes it. This latter issue is certainly not something new, but the point of view from which Crichton decides to tell us the story is very special.
Almost the entire novel (except, I believe, one scene), in fact, is told in first person by the husband of the scientist on duty, who for most of the book witnesses strange situations that he does not understand or interprets in the wrong way, thus keeping alive our curiosity, page after page, and by allowing us to find out the facts with him. An approach that helps a complete involvement in the reading.
Yet unlike other novels I've read so far, I've "just" given 4 stars. The reason is perhaps personal: the topic of the swarm of nanoparticles has not impressed me at all. It does not mean that the author hasn't managed it in the best way. Quite the contrary. The swarms, as he describes them, are really scary. But I found it a difficult topic to conceive, especially in respect of the final developments of story, but also the whole part, in which he explains a bit about the frontiers of nanotechnology (information based in part on actual studies confirmed by the bibliography and to which a lot of speculation and fantasy is added) has not won my full interest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars michael crichton Nov. 13 2013
By del
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
awesome book. I could not put it down. I am looking forward to reading more of his writings when I have time
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but very fun, an easy, quick read Aug. 22 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. And I like the home father spin (an extension perhaps of Disclosure, but this time a house husband instead of male employee sexually molested by a woman) and the first person treatment (unusual for Crichton). It all adds up to a fun novel. I don't buy the technology, or rather the "ultimate extension" of the technology, (certainly nanotechnology is here to stay), and it's another variation on Frankenstein, but getting past all that, it's fun reading, clever at times, more character-driven than any other Crichton novel, and on the whole a buzz (pun intended). I can't imagine anyone really coming away saying they were bored or uninterested. It's just too easy to have fun with. So, if it's formula, it's a formula that works, from the man who invented the formula. And, it's better to read a new -- and, as always, clever -- Crichton novel than to re-read an old favorite. Yes, it's familiar, but it's different enough to be enjoyable and fast-paced enough to be a quick read. I can see a movie in its future, almost certainly.
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Format:Audio Cassette
This refers to the unabridged Audio book. The premise is great. The research and tech updates are first rate, thorough and easy to follow. The story dissapoints with literally too much action packed into too few days for any believability. One hair raising escape after another. The lead character, a middle aged, Mr Mom, out of work programmer with three small children who doesn't exercise has no less than 6 death defying escapes from the nano's and their henchmen in one day - each causing wounds, bruising, etc... he just keeps on going. The reader's style is slow and tired - I guess because he's dictating all this first person the night of the final day. The tapes have way too many 10-15 second pauses that are irritating. I've read or listened to everything Crichton has published. This is not his best work... it could have been.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The story goes as follows: Jack, a computer programmer who worked on grouped processing is out of a job. His wife Julia has an executive position with a company that is using Jack's programs to develop nanotechnology spy tools for the government. The technology comes to life, goes berserk, and Jack is called in to figure it out because he understands the program. With a few interesting but highly implausible twists (as if the whole thing isn't somewhat implausible) Jack ends up saving the day, but in doing so kills his wife who has in part caused the mess.
I enjoy reading Michael Crichton novels because he usually teaches you something about science. What I find more interesting about Crichton is that he seems stuck on certain notions, namely Chaos Theory. Perhaps it is true that nature is uncontrollable (to a degree at least) and that, try as we might, we cannot predict what life will do, but how many times can you use this as a plot device? This was the entire story to Jurassic Park I, and II, and III. He does make an interesting point about psychology and how individuals may be very insightful of the problems facing other people but are usually pretty bad at understanding their own psychological problems. Overall the book was interesting to read but not my favorite Crichton novel.
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Most recent customer reviews
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Good technological thriller
Jack Forman used to run a program division at MediaTronics, supervising a group of young and talented computer programmers. Read more
Published on May 10 2004 by HORAK
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Notes about the audio presentation ...
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. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2004 by MikeDidIt
4.0 out of 5 stars THEY'RE HERE...
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. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2004 by Lawyeraau
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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