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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review: Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Three men are found dead in the locked second-floor office of a Honolulu building, with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.

In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.

But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself. 

An instant classic, Micro pits nature against technology in vintage Crichton fashion. Completed by visionary science writer Richard Preston, this boundary-pushing thriller melds scientific fact with pulse-pounding fiction to create yet another masterpiece of sophisticated, cutting-edge entertainment.

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Paul's Review: 
This reviewer will never forget reading Richard Preston's Hot Zone.  Wow.  What an enthralling and terrifying read.  What made it even more scary is the fact that the Ebola virus was real.

Michael Crighton hit it out of the park again, this time with Richard Preston's assistance, mixing real science with fantasy.  Crighton and Preston transport you to Hawaii where a company headed by a sadistic CEO has discovered how to shrink both humans and mechanical devices to extremely small sizes to harvest plant, insect, and arachnid essences to synthesize medicines and cures for diseases.  Peter Jansen the venom expert and six other graduate students (including an ethnobotanist, arachnologist, entomologist, botanist, biochemist, and Ph.D. candidate) are recruited by this company (called Nanigen), and they are unaware that the company has also created horrible micro weapons for the government and will shrink them and strand them in the Hawaiian rain forest to fend for themselves.  You see Peter's brother Eric works for Nanigen and discovered what the CEO has been up to.  Being stranded in a rain forest might not be such a bad thing for a normal-sized human, but for a microhuman it is a real problem.  Whereas spiders, ants, mosquitos, wasps, and centipedes are merely pests, to a human half an inch tall they are fifteen feet tall and unspeakably venomous.  The scientific details that Crighton and Preston go into regarding the plant and insect species the graduate students encounter are incredible and frightening.  It is easy to put yourself in the place of these students, imagining that you weigh virtually nothing, falling from any height will not harm you, and that all sorts of birds, bats, insects, and arachnids want only to make you their dinner.  Some people get creeped out at the sight of a cockroach and chase it trying to kill it - now imagine if that cockroach were 20 feet long!

This is an excellent read, and I give it five out of five stars.  I have not been disappointed by a single book by Micheal Crighton, and I do not believe it is likely to happen.  Do not plan on doing anything else but reading this book until you finish it.  It is that good.

 Rating: 5 Stars - Perfection

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