micro

“Indoctrinating children in proper environmental thought was a hallmark of the green movement.” M. Crichton, micro, p. ix

I believe I read most of Michael Crichton‘s novels and this posthumous version (completed by Richard Preston) is not very different in its style and pattern from the previous ones. micro delivers an efficient fast-paced techno-thriller that filled most of one afternoon when convalescing at home.  In that respect, it fills its intended role. I however feel this is one of the weakest novels in that the technological and scientific background is very poor. (The best Crichton’s novels are in my opinion The Andromeda Strain and Airframe. One of the last novels, State of Fear, carries a very anti-environmentalist and climatoskeptic  message similar to the above quote.)

“Perhaps the most important lesson to be learned by direct experience is that the natural world (…) represents a complex system and therefore we cannot understand it and we cannot predict its behavior. “ M. Crichton, micro, p. x

Indeed, the plot of micro is based on the assumption that there exists a technology that can miniaturise living and non-living objects to 1/100th of their original size without any short-term impact. I remember watching as a child Fantastic Voyage, where a miniaturised submarine goes inside a blood vessel to remove a tumor, and I sat in front of a neighbour’s TV, mesmerised by the idea more than by the (weak) plot. This was in the laste 60’s. I also remember a sci’fi’ book I read when a pre-teen, with a great cover, called The Forgotten Planet: nothing truly memorable, apart from the cover, but hey this was a 1954 book. Now, micro does not use a deeper theory to justify this miniaturisation and the remainder of the plot is just as weak: I cannot imagine  1/100th humans surviving more than a few minutes in a rain forest environment! The place is crawling with insects, all way faster and far more deadly than tiny humans with a pocket knife, but the heroes conveniently meet only one dangerous insect at a time, loosing only at most one member of the group each time (sorry for the spoiler!). (In fact, the earlier Prey was much better at involving nanotechnologies. ) The grad students are very charicaturesque as well, providing biological infodump at times when they should be frozen solid with fright. Provided they had not been eaten already. The final resolution of the thriller is just… grotesque! So wait until you are sick or recovering from being sick before embarking upon this micro and no so fantastic trip!

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