In Next, Michael Crichton tackles the exiting yet scary world of generic research and engineering. Here he focuses on the use of genetic engineering as applied to humans for diseases and even personality traits, as well as the world of corporate and academic pursuit of profit through human genetic applications.
Next is a failure as a novel. There are several storylines going on at once, which in itself is fine, but the novel jumps around from one storyline to the next in rather quick session making for a rather choppy and disjointed reading experience. Secondly, it paints a rather stark picture of the avarice, greed, and unethical pursuit of knowledge and profit among those investing in generic research. While certainly there is a grain or even a bushel of truth to this, Next goes too far. Only the most paranoid of conspiracy theorists and those who distrust every institution whether it be government, corporations, individuals, or universities would find Crichton's depiction of these organizations believable.
Worse is the peachiness of the novel. One court scene has a judge expounding from the bench what public policy should be on genetic research and applications, calling for legislatures to pass very specific laws to regulate it. This scene was so contrived and unbelievable as to completely ruin the suspension of disbelief a reader needs to enjoy a novel like this.
On the plus side for Next, it does explore some very interesting ethical and moral issues surrounding the use of genetics for human applications that society will have to grapple with. The problem is it doesn't do it very well.
'Next' is definitely a departure for Michael Crichton in some ways - lots of characters and lots of different stories, all surrounding the same subject: genetics, and how it can be manipulated to suit just about any end. Crichton's usual problem is too much story and characters that are too thin. At the best of times he overcomes this and finds a good balance (as in 'Jurassic Park'), but just as often he flops and the story completely overshadows the people in it (try 'State … more
Non-fiction reviewing is my area of expertise, and since others have detailed the plot ad nauseum, I'll just share my personal experience as a person who loves to escape and relax with medical thrillers and mysteries. I began this book last week, and although it's a large book, I finished it on Saturday. In other words, this books is an amazingly gripping tale! Not only did I have trouble putting it down (I took it with me in the bathtub and even snatched moments to read when … more
In "State Of Fear", Crichton took on the panic mongers who have a vested interested in promoting the idea (and fear) of global warming. The environmentalists, Gaists, hands-out "scientists" and others who make fine livings promoting bad science and rampant fear didn't like it. Of course, they don't like anyone who doesn't unquestioningly accept their shaky science or dares to bring up their abortive "global cooling" scheme of decades ago. (For an excellent non-fiction evisceration of environmentalists, … more