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MICRO is probably Michael Crichton’s last book.  It was the second book published after his death in 2008. Richard Preston was selected to complete it. I finished reading it in a weekend plus a few nights. It is a classic techno-thriller.

I have not read his books before but saw movies based on his books – Congo and of course, Jurassic Park.

His plot lines and characters are very directly portable onto the movie screen – like he was being commissioned to write a story for Hollywood. The characters are formed by descriptions which essentially explain how they would behave under certain situations which sure enough happened later in the story. I could more or less guess who will and who will not make it alive to the end as soon as the character is introduced.

As one would expect, there are plenty of actions and many are depicted cinematographically. To create a scene, a film director does not need to interpret the writing – just reproduce what is described. To avoid creating a spoiler, I substituted a character’s name with ___ in the following excerpt.

“__ screamed and went down on knees, cradling his severed wrist, which sprouted blood. A soldier climbed up __’s back, fastened its jaw behind his ear and began tearing off __’s scalp. A soldier got its mandibles fastened under his chin, and his screams ended with a guttural noise as blood spurted from his throat and drenched the ….”

Some time ago, I read some papers about chemical ecology and was fascinated by how plants communicate and what each organism in an ecosystem establishes its niche by chemical signals. Michael Crichton got most of the biology right but the physics in the story is completely fictional. He did his research. Evidence can be found at the back of the book where there was a long list of reference (I spotted only one on physics). He must like Thomas Eisner as he cited three of his publications, e.g., Eisner et al., Secret weapons: Defenses of insects, spiders, scorpions, and other many-legged creatures. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2005.

Th prose is efficient and easy to read. Here is another graphic excerpt from the book:

“His shirt sleeve was finally coming apart. As the sleeve split, it revealed a horrible sight. The skin had become translucent, like oiled parchment. Beneath the skin, fat white ovoids rested, twitching slightly. They had a contented look.”

Like many books of this genre, it was written with a sequel or series in mind. This book is no different in that a new story can be created fairly easily.  MICRO2 next year ?

In summary, it was entertaining and fast-paced, but its plot was predictable and the characters were disposable.


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