Crichton takes on and triumphs over greedy scientists, academics, doctors, politicians, journalists and lawyers
Dec 13, 2006
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, see Jon Berlau's "Eco-Freaks.)
This time around, Crichton takes on the gene industry."Next" is written more as a parable than pure fiction, somewhat akin to "Animal Farm" in a way. As Crichton puts it in his disclaimer "This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren't."
Crichton is attempting to blow the whistle on the gene and genetics industry. It's a wide-ranging story. The politicians, mostly know nothing fools whose only interests are re-election and power who dispense billions of taxpayer money, and the bureaucrats, scientists and technicians, universities and private businesses who greedily feed at the public trough. Crichton loves larding his novels with scientific facts and factoids. Did you know, for instance, that there are nearly 3 million "scientists" at work today who must be fed, clothed and housed? No wonder there's so much clamor for government (meaning taxpayer) funded "research".
There are the journalists whose gullibility is without end as they publish stories of amazing scientific wonders that are in fact frauds of one kind or another. As punctuation, Crichton weaves in multiple stories of how the "blonde gene" is on the path to extinction. Of course, the "blonde gene" and its march toward doom are an urban legend. Crichton also tells the story of the massive amount of research fraud, including the fallibility of "peer reviewed" scientific journal articles.
Crichton isn't shy about skewering temples of nanny-state journalism and government, The New York Times, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Henry Waxman being particularly well savaged.
Lawyers, universities, greedy doctors and public school administrators also come in for a lancing.
In all, Crichton is in take no prisoners mode and he does a fine job. In fact, Crichton deserves a Freedom Medal, but that's another story.
This story has taking parrots, chimps and orangs; a lawyer/mother on the run from a perect B-movie bad guy who wants their liver cells; a scientist/father faced with a moral choice who winds up bringing his chimpanzee/son home to live with the family; a trust fund environmentalist crank who can't read a comic book but decides to save the sea turtles and a cast of other larger than life characters.
"Next" is a wonderful romp as Cricton exposes one sham after another, such as the patenting of genes asnd diseases; the corruption of the universities by the Bayh-Dole Act (which I had never heard of)and the perversion of law by junk science.
It's a wake-up call, much as "State Of Fear" was. Crichton provides a summary of changes he thinks should be made to our scientific and legal systems, as well as a bibliography for further reading.
Above all, Crichton exposes the greed and hypocrisy of polticians, venture capitalists, bureaucrats and scientists who promise more than they can reasonably deliver from genettic science solely to get their hands on a few more bucks. Crichton will not win any friends among those he pillories, but he has provided a public service.
'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