From the Number One international bestselling author of Jurassic Park comes this classic Crichton page-turner, weaving together heart-pounding thrills with cutting-edge technology.
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’s most 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 science fact, PREY takes us into the emerging realms of nanotechnology and artificial distributed intelligence – in a story of breathtaking suspense.
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"Like Jurassic Park, the novel serves as a cautionary tale about developments in science and technology; in this case, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. The book features relatively new advances in the computing/scientific community, such as artificial life, emergence (and by extension, complexity), genetic algorithms, and agent-based computing. The novel is narrated by the protagonist Jack Forman, who is an unemployed software programmer who used to work for a company called Media Tronics when he was fired for discovering an internal scandal."Review:
In Prey, bestselling author Michael Crichton introduces bad guys that are too small to be seen with the naked eye but who are 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 specialise in programming computers to solve problems by mimicking the behaviour 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 she'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 centre, 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 realises early, however, that Jack, his wife and their 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. It's not without 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 that Jack created 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
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