Fantastic Voyage: Microcosm is an action-oriented adventure with a solid if-scientifically-preposterous concept, some great ideas and some very tense, gripping scenes. The characters are well developed, but in such a way that it builds up a comfortable archetype by focusing on their field of expertise and the interactions with the other members of the team. I never perceived the characters as people, but more in terms of actors playing a part. That may be because the style and plot structure put me in mind of a Hollywood novelization.
The story kicks it off in high gear, showing the incident resulting in the human possession of the alien pod. The international cooperation aspect, with the United States and the post-USSR Russia working together on the down low, is also very interesting, although I wish it had been a more prominent part of the story. The internal US politicking was less engaging, although it was brief. The meat of the story takes place within the alien pod itself. Aside from the preposterous concept (miniaturization of macro-scale objects), Anderson does a great job at weaving cell biology, physiology, and xenology / alien first contact protocols together.
COVER ART REVIEW: I am disappointed. I love the color palette and the silver-embossed text. But in terms of images, there’s nothing to look at! Just a vague reddish haze fading to black, and the vertical purple bar disfiguring the cover is beyond bizarre as well. While they are INSIDE the body of an ALIEN, all we see here on the cover are two short tubes with spikes and one or two attached molecules. A real disappointment, especially when you consider the truly alien environments in “The Inner Life of the Cell” video produced by Harvard University and XVIVO in 2006, or the “Powering the Cell: Mitochondria” video.