HarperCollins, 367 pp.
First up is Michael Crichton’s Prey. Crichton has always been a modern-day Mary Shelley, preaching about the possibility of losing control of advancing technologies. In Prey, nanotechnology becomes his Frankenstein’s monster, with shades of the Body Snatcher cliché thrown in for good measure. Our hero this time is Jack Forman—unemployed computer programmer and stay-at-home dad—whose wife, Julia, is working for the mysterious Xymos Technology corporation. When Julia begins to act strangely and starts working late, Jack naturally suspects that something is wrong. Believing his wife is having an affair, he accepts a consulting job with Xymos so that he can snoop around. Needless to say, he quickly stumbles onto the fact that Xymos has accidentally created an out-of-control swarm of nano-particles that wants to destroy the research facility. Within forty-eight hours he single-handedly discovers the problem, reveals an evil conspiracy, and saves the day. As usual, Crichton’s scientific details are mostly believable but his plots are getting thinner with each new book. Sadly, this time around his characters are mere cardboard cutouts, wandering aimlessly through an anemic under-developed mess of a plot. Further reminder that it’s been a long time since Andromeda Strain.