BRIEF SYNOPSIS: An unemployed software developer/architect is called to investigate an issue at a plant where his wife works that is building nanomachines
in the desert. The problem is that some of these machines have gotten loose and are learning fast! The question is now who is the hunter and who is the Prey? (Note the key use of the title of the book in the synopsis.)
PROS: It does flow well, and there are very few low points. There is a fair amount of suspense near the end, and I felt that was the best part of the book – but then got predictable (hence the Con as well).
CONS: Standard Crighton writing where he bashes you with a given idea until your sick of it. It was somewhat predictable at the end. The continual discussion about
agent based programming and how important that is was somewhat goofy. I feel that it does have its place, but it is not as end all as he would have you believe.
BOTTOM LINE: Non-tech folks would probably enjoy this take on a human creation gone awry. We who actually have a clue would probably not like it that much.
The book actually takes a big hit on the front end as Crighton gets all preachy about the creation of artificial life and how species evolve all the time. While this was
intended as an introduction to the book, it felt as a statement about creating nanomachines is akin to opening pandora’s box. The story tells of a programmer/architect who
looses his job after trying to blow the whistle on his less than ethical boss. He becomes a house husband while his wife finds a job working with a nano-tech firm who manages
to create a true fab for these miniature machines. Some of the machines get loose in the desert and everything goes to pot. They actually are able to self replicate and
can kill to enable that reproduction. The resolution of the conflict is kind of a downer and he does leave it hanging much like any of these “monster stories”.
The writing is pretty standard Crighton fare where he is quasi-techy, but if you understand the underlying technology you know there are things missing from his descriptions.
I think he did a pretty good job moving the story along, but its a pretty short book to begin with. The characters are stereotypical tech folks from the various disciplines,
but he did a pretty good job with his female characters which are notoriously weak in previous novels.
The 1.5 stars feels harsh, but in many ways I cannot recommend this to other folks. If you like Crighton and are interested in the possible horrors of nanotech becoming
sentient, then this book is for you. I finished it and was not all that impressed. I might stick to his older stuff which I hope is better – I liked Jurassic Park.