Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Review - Micro by Michael Crichton

My oldest son is a big fan of Michael Crichton. I'm slightly less so. Somehow this book ended up in our cabin, unknown to me, and was only recently brought to my attention when a friend borrowed it and then returned it. His excitement at it as he chattered back and forth about the plot brought me to pick it up.

As usual, Crichton writes about complex science concepts on about an 8th grade level. This is probably why he's a bestseller. It's entertaining fiction, not a science textbook.

His characters end up getting shrank down to smaller than insect size and then cast into the Hawaiian forest where they are then forced to deal with all manner of predatory insect life. This is not a new or novel concept. I seem to remember a cartoon from my childhood days that had an entire family battling bugs every week as they struggled to survive in small form. Crichton's exception, representing the current zeitgeist perhaps, is that the shrinking is done by an evil CEO instead of a mad scientist. Interestingly enough, society now considers scientists to be essentially naive but good-natured fellows doing their all to improve the human condition and CEO's represent bad and evil capitalism and are the ones dragging us all down. Oh my how things have changed since the 1950's when it was usually the capitalists who had to come in and save us from the raw evil and menace of the scientists.

Crichton died in the middle of this novel and someone else picked it up. I hate to judge an author by his photo on the book jacket, but this prissified dandy writes about as goofy as he looks. He's playing in someone else's sandbox, and it shows. Boy does it show. The two different writing styles conflict heavily. I don't know what else this second author (who will remain nameless because I don't want to be too mean-spirited OR go find the jacket to remind myself of the name) normally writes about, but I suspect it may involve vacations to a tropical paradise and illicit affairs with the cabana boy. I get the feeling that Crichton's tough science is out of his normal parameters.

This book redeems itself only if you like bugs and enjoy a speculative yarn set in the micro-universe where bugs live. Or if you like seeing greedy capitalists and ignorant grad students get what they so richly deserve. Either way, it's a fun read but not very deep.

Despite the fact that I'm adding an Amazon link to the review, I recommend picking this one up at the local library and getting your entertainment value out of it that way. You won't care to reread it but you'll be glad to have read it once.

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