Prey (novel)

From Academic Kids

Prey is a novel by Michael Crichton first published in hardback edition in November 2002 and as a paperback edition in November 2003. Similarly to his Jurassic Park, it serves as a cautionary tale about developments in science and technology; in this case, nanotechnology.

The book heavily features relatively new advances in the computing/scientific community, such as artificial life, emergence (and by extension, complexity), genetic algorithms, and agent-based computing.

Contents

Themes

Prey deals with the threat of intelligent nano-robots escaping from human control and becoming autonomous, self-replicating and dangerous. It loosely deals with the grey goo concept that has been widely explored in science fiction.

Michael Crichton states that the book is about what will happen if suitable controls are not placed on biotechnology before biotech develops to such an extent that it can threaten the existence of the human race.

Synopsis

This book deals with Jack, an out of work software programmer who used to work with artificial intelligence. His wife is involved with Xymos, a nanorobotics company, and has become secretive and withdrawn. Jack is soon contacted by his old company (which has become a contractor to Xymos), who is offering to rehire him in order to help deal with what they desribe is a software problem. Upon visiting the remote Xymos manufacturing facility, Jack discovers that there is a swarm of nanorobots living in the wild in the desert area around the Xymos plant. These robots are self-sufficient, reproducing and evolving rapidly and Jack soon realises that they pose a serious menace. His attempts to end this threat are hampered by the team leader of Xymos and it soon becomes apparent that the robots outside are not the only danger that Jack must deal with.

List of characters

  • Jack – The protagonist. He is a programmer who works with artificial intelligence.
  • Julia – Jack’s wife, she is the vice president of Xymos and is a driving force behind the development of the nanorobots.
  • Ricky – The team leader for Xymos.
  • Mae - a biologist on Jack's consulting team
  • Charlie - a member of Jack's team who specializes in genetic algorithms
  • David - an engineer on the team
  • Rosie - a specialist in natural language programming
  • Bobby - a programming supervisor
  • Vince - the maintenance operator of the Xymos lab.

External link

  • Prey webpage (http://www.crichton-official.com/prey/index.html)
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