Book Review: 'Micro'

Before his death in 2008, Michael Crichton was among the world's best-selling authors. Three years after Crichton died, a new Crichton novel is being published in hopes that it will be a best seller. It was not completed before Crichton's death and was finished by novelist Richard Preston. But Micro displays the familiar science fiction of Crichton's work.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The bestselling novelist Michael Crichton died three years ago this month, so imagine our surprise when a new book arrived with his name on it. Crichton left behind an unfinished techno-thriller called "Micro" and non-fiction writer Richard Preston took on the job of finishing it. Alan Cheuse has our review.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Crichton sets the novel on the island of Oahu, where money and power-mad science entrepreneur named Vin Drake has set up a company based on nanotechnology - that branch of technology that manipulates molecules in order to make tiny machines.

A team of young science students from Boston come to Hawaii to work for the company and almost immediately on arrival get caught up in a plot that involves murder and corporate greed. They get shrunk smaller than ants and then go on the lam in the island rain forest as Drake, the company head, tries to find them and stamp them out.

This is not entirely new territory for Michael Crichton or for contemporary culture. Crichton first played with nanotechnology in his 2002 novel "Prey." The wonderful novelist Richard Matheson, now in his 80s and fortunately still around and writing, did a nanothriller over five decades ago in his novel "The Shrinking Man." And who can forget watching the special effects in movies like "Fantastic Voyage" or "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?"

But Crichton knows the science better and the insects and plants, the tropical spiders, moths, wasps and ants the students encounter on their desperate run to survive – and, needless to say, not many of them do - come to life, ironically, much larger than life and technically more accurately and vividly described than the menaces in most science fiction thrillers.

So to shrink this review to as few words as possible: yet another terrifically entertaining Crichton thriller, thanks to Richard Preston, and we're lucky to have it.

SIEGEL: "Micro" is the new novel from the late Michael Crichton completed by Richard Preston. Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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