Cover image for Prey
Title:
Prey
Author:
Crichton, Michael, 1942-2008.
Edition:
Unabridged.
Publication Information:
[New York] : Harper Audio, [2002]

℗2002
Physical Description:
11 audio discs (13 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact disc.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
600 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 15.0 66786.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.5 23 Quiz: 34491 Guided reading level: NR.
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780060536978
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Summary

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 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.


Summary

Sci-fi extraordinaire presents a techno-thriller set deep in the deserts of Nevada. The Xymos Corporation, experts in nanotechnology, utilize single molecules to create powerful electronic circuits. When one of their experiments goes entirely awry, eight Xymos employees inside their secluded and small Nevada plant must defend themselves against a predatory bevy of micro-particles growing stronger and more violent by the minute.


Author Notes

John Michael Crichton, known as Michael Crichton, was born on October 28, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He wrote novels while attending Harvard University and Harvard Medical School to help pay the tuition. One of these, The Andromeda Strain, which was published in 1969, became a bestseller. After graduating summa cum laude, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute in California before becoming a full-time writer and film director.

His carefully researched novels included Eaters of the Dead, The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Sphere, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, and Micro. He also wrote non-fiction works including Five Patients: The Hospital Explained, Jasper Johns, and Travels. In the late 1960s, he also wrote under the pen names Jeffrey Hudson and John Lange. He has received several awards including Writer of the Year in 1970 from the Association of American Medical Writers and two Edgar Awards in 1968 and in 1979.

Many of his novels have been made into highly successful films, six of which he directed. He was also the creator and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning television series ER. In addition to his writing and directorial success, his expertise in information science enabled him to run a software company and develop a computer game. He died of cancer on November 4, 2008 at the age of 66.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

Crichton is the master of the sci-tech thriller, and nowhere is that more evident than in his latest page-turner, a scary, wild ride that is, without a doubt, his best in years. Jack Forman has been a stay-at-home dad since losing his job at an up-and-coming Silicon Valley technology company. Fired for discovering the company's illegal activities, Jack is taking care of his three children while his successful wife, Julia, is working at a similar company, Xymos Technology. Xymos has developed sophisticated nanoparticles for medical use, and Julia has been working long hours on the project. Jack suspects she is having an affair, but it turns out to be much more sinister than that. When Julia is injured in a car accident, Jack is called to the secretive Xymos lab in Nevada to help out with the project. It turns out the lab is in trouble; a swarm of nanoparticles escaped into the wild and has been evolving based on a program Jack designed called PREDPREY, which incorporated predator/prey interactions. The swarm is not only acting like a predator but also reproducing and killing desert animals. It is hunting the people in the Xymos compound, and it quickly becomes apparent that it can kill humans as well. As Jack uncovers the magnitude of the swarm's power, he realizes that the threat extends far beyond the isolated lab in the desert. As always, Crichton does an admirable job of explaining complex scientific ideas and integrating them with his gripping story. Like Jurassic Park (1990), Prey is a cautionary tale of the dangerous roads that carelessly used technology can take us down. This unpredictable, wild ride is not to be missed. --Kristine Huntley YA: A perfect blend of science and terror that teens will devour. KH.


Library Journal Review

Crichton's latest thriller combines the biotechnology of Jurassic Park with nanotechnology, creating a new menace for the human race. Julia Foreman and her team at Xymos Technologies have developed microscopic artificial organisms designed to function together as a group. However, they used a computer program, developed by Julia's at-home husband and programmer Jack, which employs a hunter and prey behavior model to allow the organisms to achieve stated goals through experimenting with different behaviors. However, the organisms escape the Nevada-based factory and begin to reproduce, evolve, and learn, and they are learning to hunt other life forms. This story is fast paced, with interesting characters and enough twists and turns to hold the listener's attention. Narrator George Wilson effectively tells this exciting tale in both productions; except for the price, the recordings are the same. Recommended for all audio collections.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ., Parkersburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-An absorbing cautionary tale of science fact and fiction. Jack Forman has been laid off from his Silicon Valley job as a senior software programmer and has become a househusband, while his wife continues her career with a biotech firm involved in defense contracting. Jack is called in as a consultant to debug one of their products, and finds himself confronting a full-blown emergency, about which his wife and others in the organization have been suspiciously deceptive. Crichton's sure hand sustains a tension-filled narrative as harrowing events unfold. Jack discovers that the "problem product" is a lethal, self-replicating swarm of bioengineered particles released into the desert that imperils the environment as well as the scientists who created it. He is pitted against an exponentially growing and increasingly sophisticated organism encoded with predator/prey behaviors, capable of mimicry as well as learning. Final scenes are dramatic, brutal, and jarring, with the outcome tantalizingly unresolved. Significant chunks of scientific information are packaged within the story line, and some segments are blended less smoothly than others. This scarcely matters, however, as most readers will speed past the rough spots and accept improbable leaps of imagination whenever necessary in hot pursuit of the gripping, fast-paced action. Overall, a compelling read for students intrigued by cutting-edge technologies, and rife with opportunities for discussion of ethics in scientific research.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Prey Chapter One Day 1 10:04 A.M. Things never turn out the way you think they will. I never intended to become a househusband. Stay-at-home husband. Full-time dad, whatever you want to call it--there is no good term for it. But that's what I had become in the last six months. Now I was in Crate & Barrel in downtown San Jose, picking up some extra glasses, and while I was there I noticed they had a good selection of placemats. We needed more placemats; the woven oval ones that Julia had bought a year ago were getting pretty worn, and the weave was crusted with baby food. The trouble was, they were woven, so you couldn't wash them. So I stopped at the display to see if they had any placemats that might be good, and I found some pale blue ones that were nice, and I got some white napkins. And then some yellow placemats caught my eye, because they looked really bright and appealing, so I got those, too. They didn't have six on the shelf, and I thought we'd better have six, so I asked the salesgirl to look in the back and see if they had more. While she was gone I put the placemat on the table, and put a white dish on it, and then I put a yellow napkin next to it. The setting looked very cheerful, and I began to think maybe I should get eight instead of six. That was when my cell phone rang. It was Julia. "Hi, hon." "Hi, Julia. How's it going?" I said. I could hear machinery in the background, a steady chugging. Probably the vacuum pump for the electron microscope. They had several scanning electron microscopes at her laboratory. She said, "What're you doing?" "Buying placemats, actually." "Where?" "Crate and Barrel." She laughed. "You the only guy there?" "No ... " "Oh, well, that's good," she said. I could tell Julia was completely uninterested in this conversation. Something else was on her mind. "Listen, I wanted to tell you, Jack, I'm really sorry, but it's going to be a late night again." "Uh-huh ... " The salesgirl came back, carrying more yellow mats. Still holding the phone to my ear, I beckoned her over. I held up three fingers, and she put down three more mats. To Julia, I said, "Is everything all right?" "Yeah, it's just crazy like normal. We're broadcasting a demo by satellite today to the VCs in Asia and Europe, and we're having trouble with the satellite hookup at this end because the video truck they sent--oh, you don't want to know ... anyway, we're going to be delayed two hours, hon. Maybe more. I won't get back until eight at the earliest. Can you feed the kids and put them to bed?" "No problem," I said. And it wasn't. I was used to it. Lately, Julia had been working very long hours. Most nights she didn't get home until the children were asleep. Xymos Technology, the company she worked for, was trying to raise another round of venture capital--twenty million dollars--and there was a lot of pressure. Especially since Xymos was developing technology in what the company called "molecular manufacturing," but which most people called nanotechnology. Nano wasn't popular with the VCs--the venture capitalists--these days. Too many VCs had been burned in the last ten years with products that were supposedly just around the corner, but then never made it out of the lab. The VCs considered nano to be all promise, no products. Not that Julia needed to be told that; she'd worked for two VC firms herself. Originally trained as a child psychologist, she ended up as someone who specialized in "technology incubation," helping fledgling technology companies get started. (She used to joke she was still doing child psychology.) Eventually, she'd stopped advising firms and joined one of them full-time. She was now a vice president at Xymos. Julia said Xymos had made several breakthroughs, and was far ahead of others in the field. She said they were just days away from a prototype commercial product. But I took what she said with a grain of salt. "Listen, Jack, I want to warn you," she said, in a guilty voice, "that Eric is going to be upset." "Why?" "Well ... I told him I would come to the game." "Julia, why? We talked about making promises like this. There's no way you can make that game. It's at three o'clock. Why'd you tell him you would?" "I thought I could make it." I sighed. It was, I told myself, a sign of her caring. "Okay. Don't worry, honey. I'll handle it." "Thanks. Oh, and Jack? The placemats? Whatever you do, just don't get yellow, okay?" And she hung up.   I made spaghetti for dinner because there was never an argument about spaghetti. By eight o'clock, the two little ones were asleep, and Nicole was finishing her homework. She was twelve, and had to be in bed by ten o'clock, though she didn't like any of her friends to know that. The littlest one, Amanda, was just nine months. She was starting to crawl everywhere, and to stand up holding on to things. Eric was eight; he was a soccer kid, and liked to play all the time, when he wasn't dressing up as a knight and chasing his older sister around the house with his plastic sword. Nicole was in a modest phase of her life; Eric liked nothing better than to grab her bra and go running around the house, shouting, "Nicky wears a bra-a! Nicky wears a bra-a!" while Nicole, too dignified to pursue him, gritted her teeth and yelled, "Dad? He's doing it again! Dad!" And I would have to go chase Eric and tell him not to touch his sister's things. Prey . Copyright © by Michael Crichton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Prey by Michael Crichton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.