What happened to Prey – the Movie?

The news that Michael Crichton has a new book out – State of Fear – reminds me that it wasn’t long ago that we were all worrying that mobs of anxious citizens would be pouring out of cinemas with a horror of nanotechnology induced by the film of his previous novel, Prey. But after a flurry of reports at the time that the film rights had been bought by Fox, even before the novel came out, there seems to have been nothing but silence. Meanwhile environmentalists are cheerfully getting on with their protests against nanotechnology regardless. And who are the villains of the latest Crichton blockbuster? These very same environmentalists, with their irrational opposition to global warming. Now I’m really confused.

3 thoughts on “What happened to Prey – the Movie?”

  1. I agree that the movie version of Prey seems to have quietly vanished from the Hollywood radar, but I think the book still raises some important points, but not in the content, in the impact. I was more than happy to criticise Prey on several occasions, particularly in a literature report I wrote as an undergraduate in Sheffield, based purely summaries on the science it contained. Im now doing research into molecular electronics, and thought that if I was going to continue to take offence to Prey I should read the whole thing with an open mind. Having finished the book I can now understand why it is so influential. Although sadly flawed, in terms of its science, I think that Prey can teach us a lot about communicating the real issues involved in Nanotechnology. Compare the impact of Prey with those of all the column inches written about nanotechnology by the science correspondents or Horizon style programmes, and hope that a popular author with Crichton-like impact will soon accurately discuss nanotechnology in a form accessible to the mass public.

  2. Ben, I agree with you that there is a lot that’s good about Prey, both in terms of the way it foresees nanotechnology evolving and in the way it depicts the social and economic pressures on applied scientists. There are of course lots of things wrong with the science – there’s an excellent summary of these, together with a thoughtful discussion of the broader issues, in Freeman Dyson’s review of Prey in the New York Review of Books. But I don’t think I’m confident that it would have been the good things about Prey that translated into film.

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