Crichton’s books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and provided the basis for thirteen feature films.

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Ross was the ERTS Congo Project Supervisor, and as she manipulated the satellite images in artificial contrast colors, blue and purple and green, she glanced at her watch impatiently.

She was waiting for the next field transmission from Africa.

Deep in the heart of the darkest region of the Congo, an eight-person field dies mysteriously and brutally in a matter of minutes....

Ten thousand miles away, at the Houston-based Earth Resources Technology Services, Inc., supervisor Karenn Ross watches a gruesome video transmission of that ill-fated team: a camp destroyed, tents crushed and torn, equipment scattered in the mud alongside bodies and — the grainy, moving image of a dark, blurred shape ....

One co-worker described her as "logical to a fault." Her chilly demeanor had earned her the title "Ross Glacier," after the Antarctic formation.

And her youth still held her back -- at least, age was Travis's excuse when he refused to let her lead the Congo expedition into the field, even though she had derived all the Congo database, and by rights should have been the onsite team leader.

Every ERTS terminal had a password control, like a combination lock. Travis, the head of ERTS, was fond of saying, the easiest way to obtain information was to steal it. Karen Ross was nearly six feet tall, an attractive though ungainly girl.

It was part of an elaborate system to prevent outside sources tapping into their enormous data bank. Only twenty-four years old, she was younger than most of the programmers, but despite her youth, she had a self-possession that most people found striking -- even a little unsettling. At the age of two, while accompanying her mother to the supermarket, she had worked out in her head whether a ten-ounce can at 19¢ was cheaper than a one-pound-twelve-ounce can at 79¢.

It was now Houston time, but there was no indication of time or place in the room.

Day or night, the main data facility of ERTS remained the same.

We need more than a console hotdogger out there." She bridled under the implication that that was all she was -- a console hotdogger, fast at the keyboard, good at playing with Travis's toys.