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Overview

Welcome to our genetic world.
Fast, furious, and out of control.
This is not the world of the future-it's the world right now.

Is a loved one missing some body parts? Are blondes becoming extinct? Is everyone at your dinner table of the same species? Humans and chimpanzees differ in only 400 genes; is that why an adult human being resembles a chimp fetus? And should that ...

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Overview

Welcome to our genetic world.
Fast, furious, and out of control.
This is not the world of the future-it's the world right now.

Is a loved one missing some body parts? Are blondes becoming extinct? Is everyone at your dinner table of the same species? Humans and chimpanzees differ in only 400 genes; is that why an adult human being resembles a chimp fetus? And should that worry us? There's a new genetic cure for drug addiction-is it worse than the disease?

We live in a time of momentous scientific leaps; a time when it's possible to sell our eggs and sperm online for thousands of dollars; test our spouses for genetic maladies and even frame someone for a genetic crime.

We live in a time when one fifth of all our genes are owned by someone else, and an unsuspecting person and his family can be pursued cross-country because they happen to have certain valuable genes within their chromosomes. . . .

Devilishly clever, Next blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems, and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn. Next challenges our sense of reality and notions of morality. Balancing the comic and bizarre with the genuinely frightening and disturbing, Next shatters our assumptions, and reveals shocking new choices where we least expect.

The future is closer than you think. Get used to it.

Check out the wild world of Michael Crichton's Next! This video features a Bug DNA Kit, where kids can experiment with the DNA of real live insects, and learn about genetics in a fun and exciting way! (Bugs not included.)

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  • Michael Crichton's Next
    Michael Crichton's Next  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Do you own your body's cells? If a doctor develops a cure for a disease using your cells in the process, are you entitled to a share of the profits? These are some of the questions Crichton explores in his latest science-as-boogeyman polemic. Baker does all he can to give life to the characters, but they are little more than tools to convey the plot, so the author leaves him little to work with. Baker subtly shifts the tone of his voice to distinguish between characters and deftly alters the cadence of his speech to keep the narrative flowing. Despite his best efforts, though, Baker cannot turn the nonfiction interludes between chapters into anything remotely interesting. As if these weren't distracting enough, the multiple subplots make it quite difficult to keep track of what's going on, or how one plot line relates to another. Reading a book that goes in this many directions would be difficult enough, but on audio it's almost impossible to follow. Baker's performance is excellent all around, but listeners hoping Crichton would return to Jurassic Parkform will be left wanting. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (reviewed online). (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Forbes Magazine
Will cool your ardor for biotechnology. Crichton graphically portrays all the hideous things that can go wrong with genetic research. Critics carp that he exploitatively mixes fiction with fact to conjure up an array of Frankenstein-like outcomes. But so what? The last century showed us what the once popular, seemingly scientific idea of eugenics--the belief that we could improve human beings the way we improve animals and plants through selective breeding, planting and culling--led to. Most Western countries, including the U.S., forced sterilization on hundreds of thousands of people because the prevailing thought was that their bad genes shouldn't be passed on to future generations. The Nazis carried that idea to its murderous conclusion. (18 Jun 2007)
—Steve Forbes
Library Journal

Crichton's books dazzle listeners with technical jargon that sends them fleeing to an encyclopedia to find answers and actual characters who rub elbows with their fictitious counterparts. The subjects here are genetic engineering, genetic tampering, cross-cultural gene experiments, and stem cell research. Crichton screeches down the genetic highway at breakneck speed, tossing out truth and fiction in equal amounts. Can an African Grey parrot be able to carry on conversations with its owners? What about experiments to place commercial advertising on animals and fish? Throughout these flights of fancy are several story lines that bring the gene question down to a human level, pitting firm believers against equally firm opponents. Lawsuits that touch on the furthest reaches of genetic research confuse the jury and irritate the judges. Actor Dylan Baker has a multitude of voices to contend with as well as some tongue-twisting medical terms, and he handles the job very well. Some of his characters whine too much or speak sarcastically when the situation doesn't really call for it, and one has to wonder why journal headlines are read in a plummy British accent. Still, don't be diverted from diving head first into one of the most important fiction books of modern time. Highly recommended for all public libraries.
—Jodi L. Israel

Aberdeen Press & Journal [Scotland]
“It is devilishly clever...thoroughly enjoyable.”
Adelaide Advertiser
“[Crichton] is a punchy, modern storyteller. NEXT is a popular thriller worth serious reading.”
Baton Rouge Advocate
“Read this book. It’s enough to scare the DNA out of you.”
Birmingham Post (UK)
“A cracking dark tale about biotechnology and transgenics. Epic in style.”
Bookreporter.com
“NEXT will frighten, worry and amuse you, and keep you thinking long after its final words are read. Highly recommended.”
Calgary Sun
“Provocative and entertaining.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Crichton’s latest techo-thriller raises fascinating ethical questions.”
Daily Mail (London)
“His plot, involving a score of main characters and a dozen different strands, defies summary but is completely brilliant.”
Daily News
“(Crichton) carouses through the landscape of scientific development, presenting one frightening possibility after another. Michael Crichton isn’t for scaredybabies.”
Daily Telegraph (London)
“NEXT is a page-turner, natuarlly; deft and dashing, eminently professional. ”
Dallas Morning News
“As entertaining as anything he has written since Jurassic Park.”
Denver Post
“A satirical thriller that will have bookworms glued to their armchairs.”
Evening Standard (UK)
“Wonderful...NEXT’s a regular romp.”
Forbes
“NEXT is populated with blood-pressure-raising villains who will keep you turning the pages.”
Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Crichton has created a series of vivid, thought-provoking morality plays, presenting key questions engendered by genetic research.”
Houston Chronicle
“The writing is mentally sharp, with vignettes that make you wonder if you are reading satire or simply mild exagerration.”
Los Angeles Times
“[NEXT] is a tribute to Crichton’s storytelling skill...the docmentation he sprinkles throughout the narrative teases us with speculation.”
Mail
“[Crichton’s] latest is in genetics and his literary success is assured.”
Mail on Sunday
“[Crichton’s] latest is in genetics and his literary success is assured.”
National Review
“A compulsively readable beach book about the dawn of the biotech revolution.”
New York Times
“NEXT is one of Mr. Crichton’s more un-put-downable novels. Its emphasis is on excitement.”
News of the World (UK)
“Crichton sets up mind-boggling scenarios. The pace and intrigue last to the final page.”
Newsweek
“Crichton addresses complex contemporary issues...into thrilling reads.”
NPR (All Things Considered)
“Crichton creates a series of fascinating dramatic situations that hold a reader’s attention right down to the last page.”
People
“Under Crichton’s imaginative scrutiny, body-part theft, the extinction of blonds and transgenic experiments...all loom on the horizon.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“NEXT is a romp and a potboiler...a blockbuster science thriller...an entertaining read.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“You realize what [Crichton]’s fictionalizing could be happening now, not “Next.” And that’s what makes it all so terrifying.”
South China Morning Post
“A complex and credible extension of present reality into the realm of the imagination. A highly readable novel.”
Sunday Express (London)
“(Crichton) is one of the most reliable purveyors of brain-engaged popular fiction at work today.”
Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
“A cracking pace...fast-moving plot with highly detailed research.”
Time magazine
“[Crichton] invites a mass audience irresistibly into some of the Most Important Conversations We’re Not Having.”
USA Today
“[Crichton’s] in top form with NEXT....There’s a lot to like and to scare you.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307391988
  • Publisher: Random House Mondadori
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Language: Spanish
  • Edition description: Spanish-language Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton's novels include Next, State of Fear, Prey, Timeline, Jurassic Park, and The Andromeda Strain. He is also known as a filmmaker and the creator of ER. One of the most popular writers in the world, he has sold over 150 million books, which have been translated into thirty-six languages; thirteen have been made into films. He remains the only writer to have had the number one book, movie, and TV show at the same time. Pirate Latitudes was discovered as a complete manuscript in his files after his death in 2008.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt

Next LP


By Michael Crichton

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Crichton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060873035

Chapter One

Division 48 of Los Angeles Superior Court was a wood-paneled room dominated by the great seal of the state of California. The room was small and had a tawdry feeling. The reddish carpet was frayed and streaked with dirt. The wood veneer on the witness stand was chipped, and one of the fluorescent lights was out, leaving the jury box darker than the rest of the room. The jurors themselves were dressed casually, in jeans and short-sleeve shirts. The judge's chair squeaked whenever the Honorable Davis Pike turned away to glance at his laptop, which he did often throughout the day. Alex Burnet suspected he was checking his e-mail or his stocks.

All in all, this courtroom seemed an odd place to litigate complex issues of biotechnology, but that was what they had been doing for the past two weeks in Frank M. Burnet v. Regents of the University of California.

Alex was thirty-two, a successful litigator, a junior partner in her law firm. She sat at the plaintiff's table with the other members of her father's legal team, and watched as her father took the witness stand. Although she smiled reassuringly, she was, in fact, worried about how he would fare.

Frank Burnet was a barrel-chested man who looked younger than his fifty-one years. He appeared healthy and confident as he was sworn in. Alex knew that her father's vigorous appearance could undermine hiscase. And, of course, the pretrial publicity had been savagely negative. Rick Diehl's PR team had worked hard to portray her dad as an ungrateful, greedy, unscrupulous man. A man who interfered with medical research. A man who wouldn't keep his word, who just wanted money.

None of that was true--in reality, it was the opposite of the truth. But not a single reporter had called her father to ask his side of the story. Not one. Behind Rick Diehl stood Jack Watson, the famous philanthropist. The media assumed that Watson was the good guy, and therefore her father was the bad guy. Once that version of the morality play appeared in the New York Times (written by the local entertainment reporter), everybody else fell into line. There was a huge "me, too" piece in the L.A. Times, trying to outdo the New York version in vilifying her father. And the local news shows kept up a daily drumbeat about the man who wanted to halt medical progress, the man who dared criticize UCLA, that renowned center of learning, the great hometown university. A half-dozen cameras followed her and her father whenever they walked up the courthouse steps.

Their own efforts to get the story out had been singularly unsuccessful. Her father's hired media advisor was competent enough, but no match for Jack Watson's well-oiled, well-financed machine.

Of course, members of the jury would have seen some of the coverage. And the impact of the coverage was to put added pressure on her father not merely to tell his story, but also to redeem himself, to contradict the damage already done to him by the press, before he ever got to the witness stand.

Her father's attorney stood and began his questions. "Mr. Burnet, let me take you back to the month of June, some eight years ago. What were you doing at that time?"

"I was working construction," her father said, in a firm voice. "Supervising all the welding on the Calgary natural gas pipeline."

"And when did you first suspect you were ill?"

"I started waking up in the night. Soaking wet, drenched."

"You had a fever?"

"I thought so."

"You consulted a doctor?"

"Not for a while," he said. "I thought I had the flu or something. But the sweats never stopped. After a month, I started to feel very weak. Then I went to the doctor."

"And what did the doctor tell you?"

"He said I had a growth in my abdomen. And he referred me to the most eminent specialist on the West Coast. A professor at UCLA Medical Center, in Los Angeles."

"Who was that specialist?"

"Dr. Michael Gross. Over there." Her father pointed to the defendant, sitting at the next table. Alex did not look over. She kept her gaze on her father.

"And were you subsequently examined by Dr. Gross?"

"Yes, I was."

"He conducted a physical exam?"

"Yes."

"Did he do any tests at that time?"

"Yes. He took blood and he did X-rays and a CAT scan of my entire body. And he took a biopsy of my bone marrow."

"How was that done, Mr. Burnet?"

"He stuck a needle in my hipbone, right here. The needle punches through the bone and into the marrow. They suck out the marrow and analyze it."

"And after these tests were concluded, did he tell you his diagnosis?"

"Yes. He said I had acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia."

"What did you understand that disease to be?"

"Cancer of the bone marrow."

"Did he propose treatment?"

"Yes. Surgery and then chemotherapy."

"And did he tell you your prognosis? What the outcome of this disease was likely to be?"

"He said that it wasn't good."

"Was he more specific?"

"He said, probably less than a year."

"Did you subsequently get a second opinion from another doctor?"

"Yes, I did."

"With what result?"

"My diagnosis was . . . he, uh . . . he confirmed the diagnosis." Her father paused, bit his lip, fighting emotion. Alex was surprised. He was usually tough and unemotional. She felt a twinge of concern for him, even though she knew this moment would help his case. "I was scared, really scared," her father said. "They all told me . . . I didn't have long to live." He lowered his head.

The courtroom was silent.

"Mr. Burnet, would you like some water?"

"No. I'm fine." He raised his head, passed his hand across his forehead. "Please continue when you're ready."

"I got a third opinion, too. And everybody said to me that Dr. Gross was the best doctor for this disease."



Continues...

Excerpted from Next LP by Michael Crichton Copyright © 2006 by Michael Crichton. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Interviews & Essays

Q1: As with many of your other novels, Next is a vivid dramatization of what can happen when cutting-edge science goes a little too far. Is Next a cautionary tale?

MC: Well, I think it is, in the sense that many of my books are. But for me what's different about this book is that so much of it is real - or that so much of it is very thinly-disguised versions of actual events that have occurred. Genetics, which is the subject of the book, has advanced extraordinarily rapidly in the last 15 years or so and has sometimes gone in directions that many people are troubled about, or disapprove of. It is a very interesting and hot contentious area.

Q2: What scares you the most about NEXT? And conversely, which possibilities do you find the most encouraging?

MC: I'm not really scared about anything in the genetic realm. My research actually reassured me, because I concluded that many of the things people discuss with great fear or great longing-such as designer babies, or extended longevity-are probably not going to happen.

I think that we'll have some remarkable new therapies from this area, and we will also find that the genome is vastly more complicated than we anticipated. In that sense, the genome is a bit like the human brain-much harder to understand than we once imagined.

Q3: What first sparked your interest in genetics?

MC: It's a longstanding interest of mine. I studied genetics and evolution in college, and of course as a medical student. Genetics has been one of the most exciting areas of scientific research in my lifetime. It's hard to remember that when I was born in the 1940s, people weren't really sure what a "gene" consisted of. And they thought human beings had 24 chromosomes, instead of 23! And they had no idea at all how an embryo grew and differentiated into a live birth.

Q4: You've chosen a very interesting and I think new form for this novel, which is to break down the conventional narrative into many different stories, some of which overlap, some of which are self-contained, and others which move forward and become the principle themes of the book. How did you conceive of this book, in formal terms?

MC: I had two considerations. One was that I was unable to overlook the structure of the genome as we are now starting to understand it, and how individual genes interact with other genes, or may seem to be silent, or we don't really know what they do, or sometimes there are repetitions that are not clear to us, and it struck me as an interesting idea to try to organize the novel in that way, even though it's not what one ordinarily does. The second thing driving me was the notion that there are a great many stories of interest in this area, and they're all quite different in terms of the legal and ethical problems that are raised in the field, so I wanted to do a number of different stories.

Q5: What is the latest court ruling as to what constitutes cell ownership? Are there any upcoming cases that you're keeping an eye on?

MC: Rules regarding tissues are fragmented. A recent Sixth Circuit decision regarding the tissue collection of Dr. William Catalona has set back the effots of patients to have some control over what happens to their tissues, once donated to medical research. There are good reasons why patients deserve such control. If you give your tissue for prostate research, you might not want the tissues used for other purposes you disagree with. You might have religious or other objections. You might have legal concerns, because if your genetic information was published your insurance might be cancelled. These are genuine concerns.
Federal guidelines regarding tissues are much more humane, and they don't interfere with research. We need Congress to make these guidelines the law of the land.

Q6: Many of your previous books have ignited public discussion and debate. Do you think NEXT will provoke a similar response?

MC: I am never sure how the public reaction to my books will be. I'm usually surprised.

Q7: In spite of the serious message of the book and the profound issues you're tackling, there is a lot of fun in this book. There are many jokes, there are many very amusing passages and stories, and there are a number of ideas - concepts - that perhaps are true or perhaps are fictional. Is there anything in the book that you would like to be real, that perhaps isn't real - that would improve your life?

MC: Interesting question…I don't know how to answer that…I guess what I feel is that whatever I might imagine is probably right around the corner anyway.

Q8: After the final thrilling page, what would you most like readers to take away from NEXT?

MC: The future is bright and exciting, and it will challenge us to think in fresh ways about our lives. But among our challenges today, we have some legal problems in genetics that need to be fixed. We need some laws passed, and some laws changed.
But I am optimistic about the future. Very optimistic.

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