Now Reading: Prey

Haven’t picked up a Crichton book since Timeline. That was back in…1999?? Shit. Well, anyway…here we are. To put it simply, Prey is a sci-fi thriller/horror about nanites, and it’s a damn good story. I’d forgotten how entertaining Crichton books were. He really had a knack for not only making a really creative story, but always making it feel really cinematic too. I’m kind of surprised that this one never got picked up for a movie like almost all his other sci-fi stuff. Maybe Hollywood doesn’t think nanite swarms are a visual enough threat? I don’t know.

Things start out a bit slowly as Crichton takes his time introducing the main character, his family, and a few hints about the impending crisis, but he does so in an effective suspense-building way that never feels boring. It’s kind of like the slow ride up to the top of the first big drop at the beginning of a roller coaster, then once things go over the edge it just doesn’t let up at all until the end. A situation with “just a few” rogue nanite swarms goes from suspicious to treacherous to oh shit everyone’s gonna die and the world might be screwed.

Yet another amazing Crichton classic. I’d put it right up there alongside Sphere, Congo, Jurassic Park, and etc. Definitely highly recommended to any sci-fi fans.

Now Reading: Nightrunners

I’ve always meant to get around to reading some Joe R. Lansdale books after reading some great comic adaptations of his like The Drive-In and Blood and Shadows, but never quite got around to it. I decided to start with The Nightrunners, as my research had suggested that this was a good standalone horror book of his, as well as having some connection to The God of the Razor, a character that was heavily featured in the previously mentioned Blood and Shadows comic.

I found it to be a decent story, but it never really grabbed me and made me repeatedly think “wow, this is great” like say, Snow Crash. The supernatural aspect, which involves The God of the Razor, is a surprisingly minimal part of the whole book. If you were to cut out the one chapter that explicitly features the character and a handful of dialogue references here and there it would remove the supernatural element from the story entirely and I’m not sure it would even make much of a difference.

The antagonists of the story, a gang of teens gone horribly, horribly wrong, are already pretty sinister and disgusting as it is and the vague supernatural presence that’s lingering in the background never really adds to that in any significant way. As it stands, it’s still a pretty decent horror/thriller, but its confusion over its own themes and a build up that’s a big too long for a book that’s so short, prevent it from being what I’d call an essential read.

Now Reading: Snow Crash

What a great book. Snow Crash is a cyberpunk adventure with an interesting twist, that ancient Sumerian language and it’s strange programming-code-like structure could be used as a form of sinister mind control on the cyberspace-dwelling denizens of a dystopian future. This premise alone was enough to get me interested, but what really made it such an effective story was the cleverly crafted world and the unusually sarcastic and sometimes satirical approach to it.

This is a world where the main character is named Hiro Protagonist (yes, really). Hiro starts off as a down on his luck cyberspace hacker who is also a samurai and a pizza delivery man for the mafia. He quickly loses this job though, as he finds himself wrapped up in a grand conspiracy involving the previously mentioned Sumerian-based threat that seems to suddenly be plaguing the hacking community. This threat is known as Snow Crash, and oddly enough it seems to be both a virus in cyberspace and a drug in the real world.

Hiro needs to find out what the connection is and what this mysterious new threat means for the world, and along the way he’ll need to navigate the suburb city-states, sacrifice zones, and other strange real world locations, explore the wild world of cyberspace, and learn a lot about the strange religious and linguistic history of the ancient Sumerians. It’s quite a strange tale and it’s full of fittingly colorful characters and a lot of very clever and compelling details about what a dystopian future might look like.

An utterly fascinating story that consistently kept me excitedly interested. I’d highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in cyberpunk.