Marlow, John Robert
MARLOW, John Robert
Born in PA. Hobbies and other interests: Antiques, film, literature, art, architecture, comics, music, leading-edge technologies, and history.
Book of the Month, World Transhumanist Association, and Editor's Choice Award, Nanotechnology Now, both for Nano.
Nano, Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of the column "Nanoveau," for NanoNews Monthly Report. Also contributor to Parade and Omni.
John Robert Marlow is a science and medical writer who has also written on law enforcement-related topics, primarily focusing on tactical and counter-terrorism topics. His interest in nanotechnology led him to write his column, Nanoveau (new technology), and his first novel, Nano. The book is different from other thrillers in that it is set at the dawn of technologies whose limits are as yet unknown, but that promise everything from wealth to invincibility to immortality.
Marlow's Web site is a nanofeast of his writings, links to relevant sites, and a nanofaq, and includes his "Superswarm Option," originally written as an appendix to his book, and which he wrote as an alternative to the active shields concept proposed by K. Eric Drexler in Engines of Creation. The site also offers a forum for those who wish to debate the science. Marlow told Sander Olson in an interview for Nanomagazine.com that "because nanotechnology is going to affect the lives of everyone on earth, I thought everyone should know about it. I also felt there should be an informed public debate—because the more people we have thinking about this technology, the better off we'll be when it gets here. Being a writer, I thought the best way to get the word out would be to write a novel that explains nanotechnology and shows people the possibilities—good and bad—in a way that's fun to read about, exciting and scary all at the same time."
Nanotechnology Now contributor Rocky Rawstern conducted a lengthy and in-depth interview with Marlow about his superswarm theories and reviewed Nano on the Web site. Rawstern commented that the book "tells a seat-gripping story, describing one possible 'advanced technology' scenario. And while society as a whole must start discussing the possibilities Marlow raises, there are issues, such as the economic disruption (discussed to a lesser extent in Marlow's book) that could accompany near-term limited nanotech, that have a more urgent need." Rawstern compared Nano to books by Michael Crichton, noting that "where Crichton uses extremely unlikely and largely debunked theories as the basis of his latest novel (Prey), when describing the potential of advanced nanotechnology, Marlow uses simple extensions of known science. Nano is a fast-paced, plausible techno-thriller, and destined to become one of the best of the best."
As Nano begins, Mitchell Swain, the wealthiest man in the world, is assassinated just as he is about to unveil microscopic robots that will solve humanity's ills. Left to finish the project is developer John Marrek, whose life is in danger as evil U.S. government agents use their own technology to try to stop him. John is aided by beautiful journalist Jennifer Rayne, an honest president and colonel, and his nanogun, and he gets the upper hand when his nanotech AI (artificial intelligence) takes control of the military. John's nanobots destroy the government hit men, and assembler bots cause redwood trees to spring from the ground to block their pursuit. At the conclusion, the future of the world is decided in the San Francisco Bay area.
A Publishers Weekly critic described Nano as "fast-paced." Booklist's Regina Schroeder remarked that the story "reads like a big-budget summer blockbuster." Marlow has written a screenplay based on the novel.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2004, Regina Schroeder, review of Nano, p. 956.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Nano, p. 1417.
Publishers Weekly, January 19, 2004, review of Nano, p. 55.
John Robert Marlow Home Page,http://www.johnrobertmarlow.com (October 27, 2004).
Nanotechnology Now,http://www.nanotech-now.com/ (February, 2004), Rocky Rawstern, review of Nano, interview with Marlow.
Nanoveau Online,http://www.nanoveau.com/ (October 27, 2004).*