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Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Michael Crichton: Prey 

Title: Prey
Author: Michael Crichton.
Rating: 8/10
Genre: Techno-Thriller
Michael Crichton has written another compelling book - and yes it involves monsters again. However, this time the 'monters' are not dinosaurs like those in Jurassic Park, but instead they are potrayed in the form of nano-bots. The theme of Prey is typical of Crichton's books, where things goes awry when people (mostly scientist) cross the line in technological innovation.

The story begins with Jack Forman (the hero), a unemployed computer programmer/project manager, and basically an ocassional reminsce of how he was sacked for whistle-blowing on his superior. He has since been a house-husband for almost 6 months and desperately needs a job around the Sillicon Valley. His wife, Julia is now working in a cutting-edge technology company, Xymos Technology, as its vice-chairman.

Jack goes around shopping, buying diapers, taking care of the kids and cook for them most of the night. Julia always works late and seldom make home for dinner. She has been working on a project based on nano-technology and was working hard to secure continuous investment for the company - or so Jack was told. Soon, Jack noticed that Julia started to act strangely and tend to lose her temper often, leading Jack to suspect that his wife was having an affair and was basically not working those late nights at all.

By chance, Jack was then offered a job as a consultant to the project Julia has been working on. Apparently a programme called 'Pred-Prey' was licensed from Jack's previous company to Xymos Technology. And Jack was the guy that managed the 'Pred-Prey' project years ago. Jack thought it would be a great opportunity to see what his wife was actually working on and so he decided to accept the job offer.

The scene soon shift to the lab facility where Xymos has apparently found the method to fabricate microscopic machines using nanotechnology (what I call nano-bots). Jack soon discover that his wife was actually working on a military project to use this microscopic machines as surveilance (spying) units. The problem Xymos was actually having was not that there is a bug with the programme's code, but that a few 'swarms' of these nano-bots has been accidentally released to the environment. These swarms has evolved within days and are now bent on killing everyone in the lab facility.

Obviously I'm not going to tell you what happened in the end, but typical of Crichton's books, there will be a twist in the story. In this book, you'll also find that Crichton tries to explain the technology and science behind the plot. It was very easy to read (I took a night to read it - though I didn't get much sleep that night) and a gripping science-fiction story.

However, a note in advance, I've also checked the reviews and comments available on amazon.co.uk and found that there is mix feeling about this book. Some say it was a good book, but too complicated. Others say that it's more like a movie script rather than a book. No doubt, like most of his book, this one will probably end up as a movie as well - his previous book, Timeline is currently being made into a movie.

For me, it was enjoyable and it really doesn't take long to read this book. It might be far-fetched, but undoubtedly an immaginative story of how nanotechnology might turn out to be.

Ivan  # 6:11 PM