Saturday, May 14, 2011

Review of Prey

Author: Michael Crichton
First published in 2002
Thickness: 348 pages
Read in Dutch
Personal rating: 2 stars

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.
Extract from Goodreads.

Personally this novel couldn't intrigue me. The back of the book definitely gave me hope, otherwise it wouldn't have left the library in my bag, but in the end I think I'm just not smart enough to read this novel. The story seems simple enough, a technologic swarm of microscopic robots that have gone on a killing spree, but the technical mumbo jumbo that comes along with it, is a bit like a foreign language to me. Jibberish. 
Even with a IT-husband, I couldn't get into the momentum of this novel, and I truly tried, because I actually liked Crichton's Jurassic Park and Next. I guess this theme just doesn't do it for me. 
But what I do want to mention is the excellent moral of this story. Even with needing background info to read this story, preferably a degree in computer science, I felt the lesson to be that we humans tend to create something without truly seeing the possible consequences. This has happened in the past, and will surely continue in the future. Crichton's prologue touches a few sore spots in our society in which he is completely right, in my book. 
So, my recommendation is, that if you see this book lying in the store or in the library and you don't feel like you have any feel to programming or nanotechnology, pick it up and read his prologue. That's what matters. May he rest in peace, Michael Crichton was definitely on the dot where technology would and will take us.