Micro (novel)

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Micro
Crichton Micro.jpg
First edition cover
Author Michael Crichton
Richard Preston
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction, Adventure, techno-thriller
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
November 22, 2011
Pages 424
ISBN 978-0-06-087302-8
Preceded by Pirate Latitudes

Micro, a techno-thriller published posthumously in 2011, is Michael Crichton's final novel. Upon his death in 2008, an untitled, unfinished manuscript was found on his computer, which would become Micro and complete his two-book deal with publisher HarperCollins. HarperCollins chose science-writer Richard Preston to complete the novel from Crichton's remaining notes and research, and it was finally published in 2011.[1][2] Micro is Crichton's second posthumous novel; Pirate Latitudes, a historical thriller, was also found on his computer and published posthumously in 2009.

Plot[edit]

Vin Drake, the president of Nanigen, a mysterious scientific research company, invites seven graduate students researching aspects of biology, including insects and beetles, to visit Nanigen's headquarters in Hawaii. Peter, one of the graduate students, learns that his brother, a Nanigen director, has died in a suspicious boat accident.

In Hawaii with the rest of the graduate students, Peter hacks Nanigen's phone records and realizes that Vin Drake and Nanigen murdered his brother. Peter plans to play a recording of an incriminating phone conversation to Vin Drake and the other students. Vin Drake attacks Peter and in the midst confesses to his brother's murder. Unbeknownst at the time to Vin Drake, Peter was wearing a microphone connected to Nanigen's speaker system. Realizing his mistake, Vin Drake fakes an emergency and rushes the seven graduates to a Tensor generator—an incredible technology developed by Nanigen to shrink humans or artifacts using strong magnetic fields, so that they can then investigate soil ecosystems. He shrinks the students to half an inch tall, and plans to murder them. Alyson, Nanigen's vice-president, rescues the students in a brown envelope, but they fall out of the envelope in the Fern Gully forest. Vin Drake assumes that the students will die in the micro-world, and as a cover story fakes their deaths in a car accident, in which he also murders Alyson.

Vin Drake shrinks two Nanigen security members, and tasks them to find and kill the students in the forest, if they haven't died already, claiming that the students were attempting industrial espionage. The students, though, adjust well to the micro-world, and utilize their scientific expertise to survive and outwit dangerous insects. Though the students suffer fatalities, they kill their assassins, steal their shrunken vehicle, and head for a Nanigen base from which they might fly back to the Tensor generator. Unknown to Vin Drake, or anyone else, Eric, Peter's brother, is still alive and is searching for the graduate students.

The three remaining students reach the Tantalus Nanigen base, but find no miniature airplanes. They encounter a fugitive Ben Rourke, the inventor of the Tensor generator, and also hunted by Vin Drake, who has managed to adapt and survive in the microworld. He gives them urgent medical attention and offers them three miniature planes that he has repaired. He explains that he has learned to survive the "microbends", a fatal sickness that afflicts shrunken humans. Danny, a student, betrays his fellow students by contacting Vin Drake and offering him Ben Rourke's "microbends" remedy in return for his safety. He steals a micro-plane to meet Vin Drake but is killed when his plane is attacked by bats. The next morning, the students, now only two, escape from Rourke's base in the remaining planes as Vin Drake torches the Tantalus base. They find Eric, who leads them back to Nanigen's headquarters.

Meanwhile, Nanigen's security chief confesses to the local police force that he is complicit in Nanigen's and Vin Drake's crimes, and a police force is sent to Nanigen to arrest Vin Drake. Eric and the students arrive at Nanigen first and encounter Drake, who activates micro-bots to attack Eric and a fight ensues. The two students finally re-enter the Tensor generator and return to full-size. A micro-bot that attempted to attack them is enlarged as well, to the size "of a refrigerator". In the fighting, Vin Drake is trapped in the Tensor generator room and is attacked by his own micro-bots, as well as the enlarged micro-bot, while the full-size students rescue an injured Eric. After Drake is killed, the enlarged micro-bot destroys the room and Tensor generator. The police finally arrive.

The two surviving students fall in love. Karen plans to return to the micro-world, enraptured by the beauty and diversity of life.

Writing[edit]

Michael Crichton spoke about working on Micro in three interviews before his death. Crichton described the project as "an adventure story like Jurassic Park. I'm enjoying myself," and said the novel "would be informative in a way that would be fun, and would give...some information about how our environment really is structured."[3]

In the book, there is a somewhat detailed sketch of the setting in which the story takes place titled, "The Pali." Near the base of the waterfall in the sketch, reads the small inscription "NUMQUAM OBLIVISCEMUR MICHAELIS CRICHTONIS," which translated from Latin, reads "We shall never forget Michael Crichton."

Themes[edit]

Micro features typical Crichton themes and tropes: a fight for survival of man and technology versus nature, the complexity of nature and natural systems, that technology can be dangerous, and man's struggle to control nature and technology. The students, motivated by a childlike wonder at the natural world and a thirst for knowledge, contrast with Vin Drake and Nanigen, who view technology and nature as a resource to be harvested for wealth and power. This dichotomy pervades Crichton's work.

The scientific themes particular to Micro are the rich diversity of life contained in soil ecosystems, which is remarkably well-adapted to its environment, and the physics of being small, first explored by Leonardo da Vinci. In his unfinished preface, Crichton argues that the natural world cannot be understood vicariously through books, and that with first-hand experience, we would learn that the environment is complex and dynamic, and that it cannot be manipulated or controlled.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Books and Movies," Michael Crichton: The Official Site. MichaelCrichton.com. 1997-2012, Constant C Productions.
  2. ^ "Micro". Online Catalog Entry. HarperCollinsCatalogs.com. Fall 2011, Harper Collins.
  3. ^ Warren, Marla E. (2011-07-19). "What Michael Crichton said about Micro". MusingsOnMichaelCrichton.com.