Next by Michael Crichton

19 10 2009

Next is Michael Crichton‘s last contribution before his death (there are two posthumous  novels – one not yet published). As in all his works, he blends facts with fiction to create a riveting read. It’s impressive to realize how much research goes into each of his novels. I love his techno-thrillers. In Next, he talks about certain controversial and ambiguous issues of genetic engineering and voices out his concerns on behalf of general public. His conclusions and advice in the end do make lot of sense. He emphasized on how Universities and pharmaceutical companies are exploiting people for their own profit. He brought to notice how absurd the whole gene patent thing currently is, which values the profit of researchers over the gain to the taxpayers who funds the research.

I felt that the plot has a little too many threads and I kept losing track of some here and there. The author obviously had a lot to say. Some of the threads are:

  • A selfish and manipulating head of National Institutes of Health
  • A venture capitalist waiting to overtake a genetic company he funded
  • A scientist who illegally uses his own genes to create a trans-genetic ape
  • A talking orangutan in Sumatra forest
  • Glowing leather turtles on Costa Rica beach
  • A talking grey-parrot who can imitate any sounds and even perform arithmetic

There are many others like these. There are even related news paper articles now and then (some of them really gruesome) – about blonds extinction studies, people eating their own fat, artists creating  various trans-genetic pets like giant cockroach, permanent pups etc. and lot more.

This novel really provides lots of information about genetic engineering in a very interesting manner.