by Michael Crichton

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061703089
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2008
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 80,168
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 7.44(h) x 1.29(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was the author of the bestselling novels The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Jurassic Park, Sphere, Disclosure, Prey, State of Fear, Next and Dragon Teeth, among many others. His books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, have been translated into forty languages, and have provided the basis for fifteen feature films. He wrote and directed Westworld, The Great Train Robbery, RunawayLookerComa and created the hit television series ER. Crichton remains the only writer to have a number one book, movie, and TV show in the same year.

Daniel H. Wilson is a Cherokee citizen and author of the New York Times bestselling Robopocalypse and its sequel Robogenesis, as well as ten other books. He recently wrote the Earth 2: Society comic book series for DC Comics. Wilson earned a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as master’s degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. He has published over a dozen scientific papers and holds four patents. Wilson lives in Portland, Oregon.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

October 23, 1942

Date of Death:

November 4, 2008

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, California


B.A.. in Anthropology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1969

Read an Excerpt


7:12 A.M.

With the vibration of the helicopter, I must have dozed off for a few minutes. I awoke and yawned, hearing voices in my headphones. They were all men speaking:

"Well, what exactly is the problem?" A growling voice.

"Apparently, the plant released some material into the environment. It was an accident. Now, several dead animals have been found out in the desert. In the vicinity of the plant." A reasonable, organized voice.

"Who found them?" Growly.

"Couple of nosy environmentalists. They ignored the keep-out signs, snooped around the plant. They've complained to the company and are demanding to inspect the plant."

"Which we can't allow."

"No, no."

"How do we handle this?" said a timid voice.

"I say we minimize the amount of contamination released, and give data that show no untoward consequence is possible." Organized voice.

"Hell, I wouldn't play it that way," said growling voice. "We're better off flatly denying it. Nothing was released. I mean, what's the evidence anything was released?"

"Well, the dead animals. A coyote, some desert rats. Maybe a few birds."

"Hell, animals die in nature all the time. I mean, remember the business about those slashed cows? It was supposed to be aliens from UFOs that were slashing the cows. Finally turned out the cows were dying of natural causes, and it was decomposing gas in the carcasses that split them open. Remember that?"


Timid voice: "I'm not sure we can just deny-"

"Fuck yes, deny."

"Aren't there pictures? I think the environmentalists took pictures."

"Well, who cares? What will the pictures show, a dead coyote? Nobody is going to get worked up about a dead coyote. Trust me. Pilot? Pilot, where the fuck are we?"

I opened my eyes. I was sitting in the front of the helicopter, alongside the pilot. The helicopter was flying east, into the glare of low morning sun. Beneath my feet I saw mostly flat terrain, with low clumps of cactus, juniper, and the occasional scraggly Joshua tree.

The pilot was flying alongside the power-line towers that marched in single file across the desert, a steel army with outstretched arms. The towers cast long shadows in the morning light.

A heavyset man leaned forward from the backseat. He was wearing a suit and tie. "Pilot? Are we there yet?"

"We just crossed the Nevada line. Another ten minutes."

The heavyset man grunted and sat back. I'd met him when we took off, but I couldn't remember his name now. I glanced back at the three men, all in suits and ties, who were traveling with me. They were all PR consultants hired by Xymos. I could match their appearance to their voices. A slender, nervous man, twisting his hands. Then a middle-aged man with a briefcase on his lap. And the heavyset man, older and growly, obviously in charge.

"Why the hell did they put it in Nevada, anyway?"

"Fewer regulations, easier inspections. These days California is sticky about new industry. There was going to be a year's delay just for environmental-impact statements. And a far more difficult permitting process. So they came here."

Growly looked out the window at the desert. "What a shithole," he said. "I don't give a fuck what goes on out here, it's not a problem." He turned to me. "What do you do?"

"I'm a computer programmer."

"You covered by an NDA?" He meant, did I have a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent me from discussing what I had just heard.

"Yes," I said.

"You coming out to work at the plant?"

"To consult," I said. "Yes."

"Consulting's the way to go," he said, nodding as if I were an ally. "No responsibility. No liability. Just give your opinion, and watch them not take it."

With a crackle, the pilot's voice broke in over the headsets. "Xymos Molecular Manufacturing is dead ahead," he said. "You can just see it now."

Twenty miles in front of us, I saw an isolated cluster of low buildings silhouetted on the horizon. The PR people in the back all leaned forward.

"Is that it?" said Growly. "That's all it is?"

"It's bigger than it looks from here," the pilot said.

As the helicopter came closer, I could see that the buildings were interlocked, featureless concrete blocks, all whitewashed. The PR people were so pleased they almost burst into applause. "Hey, it's beautiful!"

"Looks like a fucking hospital."

"Great architecture."

"It'll photograph great."

I said, "Why will it photograph great?"

"Because it has no projections," the man with the briefcase said. "No antennas, no spikes, no things poking up. People are afraid of spikes and antennas. There are studies. But a building that's plain and square like this, and white-perfect color choice, associations to virginal, hospital, cure, pure-a building like this, they don't care."

"Those environmentalists are fucked," said Growly, with satisfaction. "They do medical research here, right?"

"Not exactly . . ."

"They will when I get through, trust me. Medical research is the way to go on this."

The pilot pointed out the different buildings as he circled them. "That first concrete block, that's power. Walkway to that low building, that's the residences. Next door, fab support, labs, whatever. And then the square windowless three-story one, that's the main fab building. They tell me it's a shell, it's got another building inside it. Then over to the right, that low flat shed, that's external storage and parking. Cars have to be under shade here, or the dashboards buckle. Get a first-degree burn if you touch your steering wheel."

I said, "And they have residences?"

The pilot nodded. "Yeah. Have to. Nearest motel is a hundred and sixty-one miles. Over near Reno."

"So how many people live in this facility?" Growly said.

"They can take twelve," the pilot said. "But they've generally got about five to eight. Doesn't take a lot to run the place. It's all automated, from what I hear."

"What else do you hear?"

"Not very damn much," the pilot said. "They're closed-mouthed about this place. I've never even been inside."

"Good," said Growly. "Let's make sure they keep it that way."

The pilot turned the stick in his hand. The helicopter banked, and started down.

I opened the plastic door in the bubble cockpit, and started to get out. It was like stepping into an oven. The blast of heat made me gasp.

"This is nothing!" the pilot shouted, over the whirr of the blades. "This is almost winter! Can't be more than a hundred and five!"

"Great," I said, inhaling hot air. I reached in the back for my overnight bag and my laptop. I'd stowed them under the seat of the timid man.

"I have to take a piss," said Growly, releasing his seat belt.

"Dave . . ." said the man with the briefcase, in a warning tone.

"Fuck, it's just for a minute."

"Dave-" an embarrassed glance toward me, then lowering his voice: "They said, we don't get out of the helicopter, remember?"

"Aw hell. I can't wait another hour. Anyway, what's the difference?" He gestured toward the surrounding desert. "There's nothing the fuck out here for a million miles."

"But, Dave-"

"You guys give me a pain. I'm going to pee, damn it." He hefted his bulk up, and moved toward the door.

I didn't hear the rest of their conversation because by then I had taken off my earphones. Growly was clambering out. I grabbed my bags, turned and moved away, crouched beneath the blades. They cast a flickering shadow on the pad. I came to the edge of the pad where the concrete ended abruptly in a dirt path that threaded among the clumps of cholla cactus toward the blocky white power building fifty yards away. There was no one to greet me-in fact, no one in sight at all.

Looking back, I saw Growly zip up his trousers and climb back into the helicopter. The pilot pulled the door shut and lifted off, waving to me as he rose into the air. I waved back, then ducked away from the swirl of spitting sand. The helicopter circled once and headed west. The sound faded.

The desert was silent except for the hum of the electrical power lines a few hundred yards away. The wind ruffled my shirt, flapped my trouser legs. I turned in a slow circle, wondering what to do now. And thinking about the words of the PR guy: They said, we don't get out of the helicopter, remember?

"Hey! Hey, you!"

I looked back. A door had cracked open in the white power block. A man's head stuck out. He shouted, "Are you Jack Forman?"

"Yes," I said.

"Well, what the hell you waiting for, an engraved invitation? Get inside, for Chrissake."

And he slammed the door shut again.

That was my welcome to the Xymos Fabrication Facility. Lugging my bags, I trudged down the dirt path toward the door.

Things never turn out the way you expect.

* * *

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Prey 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 575 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prey By Michael Crichton Reviewed by Josh There are always problems with finding a good book to read. You want to try to find a topic you like, and then you see if the book has a well known reliable author, then you see how long the book is. All these challenges can be solved with this book Prey by Michael Crichton. I initially chose this book on a recommendation from my dad. He had just recently read it and said it was an extraordinary book. Unfortunately, I wasn¿t very keen on reading a 300 odd page book however I was looking for something enticing and something I was interested in. He had recommended this book before but I had put the idea aside. Finally we were assigned an independent reading assignment, so I said ¿Ah, why not,¿ and I picked it up and started to read. Ever since then, I haven¿t been able to put the book down. If you¿re a person that¿s interested in today¿s technology and science this is definitely a book for you. This is a realistically based fiction of technology and modern science with a bit of romance. Jack Forman, a currently unemployed programmer is assigned the position of ¿house dad¿ and he¿s doing a heck of a job, but when things start going awry with his hard working wife Julia, he starts to suspect she¿s having an affair in Townsend 2 the office. She works at Xymos Technology, one of the leading technology distributors in the Silicon Valley. Jack is hired as a consultant to Xymos and takes a trip out to the companies¿ fabrication building. He is surprised to find out they are currently programming nanotechnology as a military weapon. After they get the technology advanced enough, the nano- bots begin to learn from experience and think on the spot. This ends up as a terrible outcome and could mean the end of human civilization as we know it. Crichton has done a magnificent job with his descriptive sci-fi action writing It really makes you think you¿re in the story so much, that it¿s scary. Though Prey is a great read, I would suggest limits and restrictions. It should be noted that if you are influenced by harsh language, this book is definitely not for you. There are feelings expressed in language that normally would not be accepted as polite or even correct for that matter. Also, there is slight sexual content but nothing to be alarmed about. Other than that, this book is a fantastic read and should be taken into consideration next time you¿re looking for a book worth your while. Prey is for those interested in today¿s modern science and technology, and for those looking for a good book. I recommend this book if you are looking for a good action adventure and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But be careful, to be human¿is to be hunted.
bookworm71CH More than 1 year ago
Keeps you in suspense for the entire read. Don't know much about nanotechnology, but the implicantions are frightful, if maybe unrealistic in this book. If you like suspense, this is for you.
EBoges More than 1 year ago
Prey is a book by the famous author Michael Crichton. He has written many other famous and award winning books that are also worth a read. Prey itself is a book that commands you to keep reading it all the way through. It is definitely worthy of anyone who reads love stories or science fiction romance novels. This book is also similar to some other Crichton books that follow the theme of massive technological discovery destroying humans for their insolence and hubris. The protagonist of prey is Jack Forman. He is a middle aged father of three that has a loving wife and a good job. Everything goes wrong from here, Jack has almost everything taken from him and events push him to the edge. It starts with his job being taken away and then his family is also hurt. This leads to other events that show how human expansion of technology can be very dangerous. Michael Crichton's style can be summarized by saying that he allows the actions to speak for themselves. He perfectly balances action and suspense, and romance and dialogue. He writes in a style that purely exemplifies the actions that are pushing you to your seat. Prey is also divided into 4 parts that all have specific problems and answers. Each part seems to answer one of the questions you are thinking, but as each is answered another is proposed until finally the final truth is revealed. I highly recommend this book as one that will entertain and surprise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im gonna give it to you straight: the book was slow and boring and i stopped reading it for about two weeks. It was just sitting here on my nook. I started reading again, and at page 124 it got amazing. There is language and suggestive themes, but a great book for a mature 12 year old and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Savannah Dougherty More than 1 year ago
Starts slowly but stick with it by page 200 you wont be able to put it down! :)
zola_natalie More than 1 year ago
I have read this book so many times (at least 4). I even have two copies, one paperback and one hardcover. As with all other books from this author. I love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
spectralbat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I read by Michael Crichton and it remains one of my favorite reads. Fast paced technological thriller that keeps you on edge until the very end. Despite the fact that it's been shown that the situation in this book is not actually realistic, Crichton builds a solid theoretical situation that feels completely plausible and draws you in.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While well researched, I did not find the story that compelling. Mainly because of the narration, I did continue listening. The science of the book, and Crichton's ability to combine science with storytelling, brought this to above average, but still not into the great category.Good for listening while commuting or on a longer trip. Similar to the original Jurassic Park, the ending in "Prey" leaves the possibility of a sequel open in the reader's / listener's mind.
jackravi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another Mic Crichton's fantastic novel...He is a master story teller,,,
LouCypher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Crichtons best I think. The suspense was great and the depth of the field covered is enormous but he explains it all very well as usual. Great read.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michael Crichton would occasionally write books forewarning the general populace of new technology gone bad. For example, with Jurassic Park, it was dinosaur cloning.With Prey, the technology to fear is nanotechnology. Granted, it's mixed a bit with swarm technology, evolutionary algorithms, and genetic modification. But the root is nanotechnology: tiny little robots that can replicate themselves, and do stuff on a tiny level.The story is told through the point of view of the protagonist, an out-of-work computer programmer. He's eager to get a job before he reaches his "shelf-life."His wife, he's noticed, has been aloof with respect to the family. He fears the worse: she's having an affair. After she gets into an automobile accident, he gets a job offer from her company. He jumps right on it, part to have a job, and part to uncover the root of her mysterious behavior.So, at the lab, in the middle of the desert, he learns that a rogue swarm built for the DOD has escaped and is replicating in the desert. The odd thing is, though, nobody seems to want to take care of it.The book is a thriller, so there are plenty of twists, turns, explosions, and deaths at the hands of these fearful micro-automata. And in the end we learn a valuable lesson: stop messing with nature!The book itself was quite entertaining. Crichton was one of those authors with "universal appeal" that actually appeals to me. If you've liked other Crichton books about technology, you'll most likely enjoy this one as well.
dspoon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Typical Crichton novel, based upon building a thrilling story around a current scientific topic. This time it's nanotechnology and the dangers inherent therein. Educational and entertaining read.
lilygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh, the irony of technology. Crichton states clearly that there can be consequences when we do not fully understand what we're messing with. As always, he manages to combine a thrilling story with moral and political themes.
lorireed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jack Forman has big problems. The out-of-work computer programmer turned stay-at-home dad suspects that his wife is having an affair. Little does he know that this is the least of his problems. His wife Julia has been working long hours with a new technology ¿ nanotechnology ¿ creating tiny robots the size of an atom. But something has gone horribly awry. The nanobots have escaped, and based on a computer program that Jack wrote, they have also begun to reproduce, evolve, swarm, and hunt. Humans are their prey. Crichton¿s most suspenseful novel yet , Prey, will leave you in a constant state of anticipation, eagerly turning the page to see what happens next.
ctmsalmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thrilling! The story was different than normal sci-fi. It felt real.
cenneidigh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
* spoiler alert ** I liked this book, it was scary with how tiny the little computer bugs were. They could get almost anywhere and then they acted like a group and could destroy anything they wanted. The end with the magnets and the wife, broke my heart. The story with the family kept my interest. It was sad the way that things change, but I'm glad at the end things were discussed between the husband and wife. The idea of the nano's is great, but control of them will be something I hope we get before we set them loose. This may be make believe, but the future is coming. Exciting and frightening at the same time
ukaissi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is among the best thriller books I have ever read. It is scary and at the same time full of suspense. You simply cannot put it down. The ability to create a bridge between fiction and non-fiction is something few authors could do and in this case Michael Crichton is a master.
florencecraye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought it was so cool to be able to say "Oh I'm just doing some recommended reading for my CS class" when reading this sort of book. Yes, it's recommended reading for a class on Evolutionary Computation. The book itself wasn't amazing.. the writing was a little weird in places, almost as if he had the beginning and the end written and he was struggling to fill in the middle. But definitely an entertaining read for me, given my recent entry into the field of phage evolution. Is the science sound? Well.. he's got a nice reading list at the end of the book. That's about where the science ends. The rest I felt was just cool, science-y name dropping. Worth a read though :)
nickl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hated this book so much. Crichton writes well, but he knows nothing about software or nanotech. However, it's his sexism which really makes this (and many of his other book) so bad. I only read it because I received it free, and now I regret reading it.
JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Prey is a techno-thriller where Michael Crichton takes us deep into the world of nanotechnology. In this science space, millions of nanoparticles act as a swarm to achieve a common goal. However, what happens when the swarm evolves faster than the humans that design it? Crichton has authored a suspenseful story in which nanomachines are used to develop innovative medical diagnostic images by essentially creating a nano-eye that can traverse the blood stream, but all is not as it seems as the true reason for the technology comes to light.Michael Crichton spends a great deal of time on the scientific details of nanotechnology and distributed computer processing, which are essential in understanding the plot. Each nanoparticle is given a very simple program to run and a very small brain (CPU/Memory) to achieve its objective. As more and more particles are introduced into the system each particle communicates with nearby particles, in essence increasing the brain power of the machine. Crichton takes this a step further by allowing the swarm to learn and evolve at a rate much higher than expected. The result: Prey. A fun and suspenseful read.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Definitely one of Crichton's weaker entries. A lot of this novel, especially the ending unfortunately, was predictable. The usual punch in the face that Crichton provides when it comes to issues of science and ethics is also missing. Beyond the obvious Nanotechnology=bad, there's no deeper argument. Readable, but not a must read.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read Crichton¿s novel for two reasons: 1) because I usually learn something from him about a new subject that interest me, like nanotechnology; and 2) because they¿re usually very suspenseful, exciting, quick reads. In this case, I did learn something new ¿ but not as much as I would have liked ¿ about nanotechnology and molecular engineering, the scientific areas that the technological horror story explores.But the truth is that, this time, the plot was more than a little silly, the characters were bare sketches of typical Crichton people ¿ none of whom I cared a lick about ¿ and the suspense was almost entirely missing. Yes, it was a quick read, but a thoroughly unsatisfying one. Perhaps Crichton isn¿t trying anymore, or perhaps I¿ve outgrown him; I suspect it¿s a combination of both. But while Jurassic Park may be counted as a guilty pleasure, this novel gives no pleasure at all.