From Michael Crichton, the #1 bestselling author of Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, comes an astounding, eye-opening look at the world of genetics: Next. 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 a chimp fetus resembles a human being? And should that worry us? There’s a new genetic cure for drug addiction—is it worse than the disease? Devilishly clever, Next blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems, and genetic ownership shatters our assumptions.
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About the Author
Michael Crichton (1942—2008) was the author of the groundbreaking novels The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Jurassic Park, Disclosure, Prey, State of Fear, and Next, among many others. His books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and have provided the basis for fifteen feature films. He was the director of Westworld, Coma, The Great Train Robbery and Looker, as well as the creator of ER. Crichton remains the only writer to have a number one book, movie, and TV show in the same year.
Hometown:Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:October 23, 1942
Date of Death:November 4, 2008
Place of Birth:Chicago, Illinois
Place of Death:Los Angeles, California
Education:B.A.. in Anthropology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1969
Read an Excerpt
By Michael Crichton
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Michael Crichton
All right reserved.
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?"
"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."
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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Every book I have read by Chrichton has been excellent. All the way from the first to last I have enjoyed Mr. Chrichton to the fullest extent and Next is no acception. I was locked in as soon as I started this novel. I did not want it to end. The subject matter is extremely interesting and very realistic. Michael Chrichton does do his research. I went to his website to see if he published a new novel and thats how I found out he passed. I loved his books because he is a wonderful writer and I am going to miss his stories.
I usually enjoy anything by Michael Crichton but this book was my least favorite. It was entertaining at first and then it just lost it's edge. The plot was slow and the characters were unappealing. I just did not like it and I ended up giving the book away. (The person I gave it to didn't like it either , by the way).
This is a great book. Crichton's genetic page-turner is much better than expected and is one of my favorite books. The characters are a bit confusing sometimes, but not always. It's a bit different from other books of his and has a faster pace, but to me NEXT is a great book and I look forward to reading another one of Crichton's novels. Oustanding and highly recommended
I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. Devoured it in just a few sittings. He does his research and it shows in his work. I would recommend it as one of his best works. Recently read Micro as well and that was also awesome. Have been a fan for a long time and will continue to be.
CD/unabridged/Science Fiction: Right now, I'm on a Crichton kick. Apparently, Crichton took a look at gene therapy and technology in the 15 years that he wrote Jurassic Park and realized there was a problem. For one, the stuff that was pseudo science in JP, was begin done. This book has several stories that intertwine, overlap, and stand alone. It's a cautionary tale of what happens when government and medical boards (not just the US) lag behind modern science. Like how much of your body do you own after you give a tissue sample. Or how much gene integration should be done to animals. I liked it because I learned a lot. I didn't know that genes or diseases are patented. I found out that SARS became a pandemic because there was uncertainty on who owned the patent. I found out Hepatitis C is patented. This book starts out like a spy novel, but then goes into several directions. There is an emptiness to the conclusions. I wanted to know if the evil bounty hunter.....I mean property recovery agent, went to jail for the rest of his life. I still liked it a lot. Did I mention the talking ape.
Michael Crichton has always done a good job of intertwining science and fiction without writing science fiction. I think that makes sense. Here Crichton tackles the world of genetic engineering and while there were so many amazing ideas and concepts here, I’m not sure how much of a novel there actually is. There are literally dozens of characters introduced and as a reader you have no idea if they are connected, important, or relevant. Its strangely scattered and when connections are made they are disturbing weak or convenient. I was rather disappointed with this. There just wasn’t enough here.
I'm a little torn over this story. While it was quite preposterous at times, I still found it very thought-provoking. My favorite part of the entire book was the author's note at the end of the book. I was fascinated and concerned over the facts that the author outlines after all is said and done. I think the story stretched the facts and possibilities a little too far, causing it to be preposterous, but based on possibilities left open by current laws. The story was a little far-fetched for me, but the facts that the story was based were very intriguing.
Not Crichton's most readable work. There are an awful lot of characters and scenarios--so many that it's difficult to keep them all straight. While this may well be part of the point, it makes the book difficult to read. On the other hand, Next is extremely fast-paced. Even though it's long and convoluted, it's a quick, exciting read. It's also very, very thought-provoking--the kind of book that makes you want to write your congressman.
This was a fantastic book! In the past, I've been a bit cynical towards Crichton, but this was an amazing read. A total page turner, start to finish. I did find it sometimes a little hard to keep the characters straight, but beyond that, a great book.
Crichton can write an enjoyable and swiftly moving book. This isn't exactly a novel, but more a cinematographic series of scenes that highlight various points that he wants to make about genetics research, the current laws on gene patents, and transgenic animals. The central conceit is that a single biogenetic company owns the cancer fighting cells cloned from a single individual without his consent. This leads to a gun battle between agents of this company and the man's daughter and grandson. There are also subplots involving a transhuman chimpanzee and a transhuman parrot, Although the science is not quite as ludicrous as that in Jurassic Park, most of the scientists and business owners are depicted as venal and unhuman. Ah, well, this book was more interesting during a plane trip than the latest celebrity or fashion magazine. I finished it in a couple of hours.
Generally I enjoy quasi-realistic science-fiction works, but I couldn't find much quasi-realistic in this novel. Even though I'm no expert in genetics, the science and situations described in this book were unrealistic and I couldn't feign to believe them enough to enjoy the story (which wasn't all that great either).
This book concerns the many possible complications that could arise in the near future due to gene therapy research. The situations of the *many* plot lines center around issues like ownership of cells, gene patents, and the creation of transgenic (hybrid) animals. This book was interesting, and eventually the story becomes somewhat gripping, but I don't feel that it's particularly strong as a novel. There are many separate story lines and characters, and it all feels very scattered. There's a lot of research apparent behind Crichton's writing, and he does a great job of blending the fiction with the fact in a believable, creative way. He also provides an extensive bibliography. Unfortunately, the several plot threads sort of fizzle at the end even as they try to tie themselves up, and it ends up seeming more of a heavy-handed dogmatic text than an exciting mystery thriller. I do agree with Mr. Crichton's conclusions regarding gene patents and the like, but hearing it once in the ending courtroom scene and again (almost verbatim) in the author's epilogue seemed a bit much.
I haven't read many good reviews of this book so I went into it with pretty low expectations, which I think helped. The biggest problem with this book is that it has no plot. Most chapters are only a few pages long and in most chapters new characters are introduced. There are a few recurring characters, but mostly we just get snippets. What we're looking at is what the world would be like if genetic engineering was successful and commonplace. What would happen if we could really put human genes into animals--could we create a cross between a human and a chimpanzee? Should we? What if we could modify the genes of wild animals so they would display logos for big companies--then those companies could "sponsor" animals and they'd be less likely to go extinct. If we could find the gene for drug addiction, could we fix it? Could we sue our parents for passing on to us defective genes? If your husband had a gene that predisposes him to infidelity, could he really be blamed for sleeping around? What if companies could patent genes? Would they then own the genes that we all carry in all of our cells? Would they have the right to retrieve those genes any time they want? This is just a book of what-ifs, no real plot, but I still found it to be somewhat entertaining. At the end I was annoyed by the author's note that repeats back the author's main points, in case you didn't get them in the story. If these sort of questions interest you, I'd recommend reading this, but if they don't, feel free to skip this.
There was way too much going on in this book. I'm still not sure what the first part of the book has to do with the ending. Also, the ending is like he just got tired of writing so he abruptly stopped and had it published. I would not recommend it.
This book is about biotechnology, genetics, organs and tissues and the ethical, moral, and legal issues related to it. There are about nine set of characters who interact with each other in numerous plots. The story begins with Vasco Borden, a fugitive-recovery agent trailing Eddie Tolman who is trying to sell twelve frozen transgenic embryos in liquid nitrogen from his embryology lab. Borden did not see anybody take the embryos but when he examined the dewar after Tolman's death, they were empty. Tolman locked himself in the kitchen service elevator and opened the dewar, killing himself with the liquid nitrogen gas. In the same building, Jack Watson, a capitalist was giving a speech, selling biotechnology to the world. He partly funds BioGen Research led by CEO Rick Diehl. BioGen has won the bid to clinically test the Burnet cell line licensed by UCLA. This cells were taken and cultured from Frank Burnet, a cured cancer patient whose cells produced powerful cancer-fighting chemicals called cytokines. In a courtroom, Frank Burnet is suing UCLA for using his tissues in research and selling them commercially. He is fighting for ownership rights and royalty fees over his cells and he loses the battle with his attorney daughter, Alex. Then a stranger approached him and suggested that he can still legally sell his blood for a hundred million dollars in case BioGen "contaminates" all their samples which kept him thinking. At the BioGen lab, Josh Winkler gets an urgent call from his Mom. He has to pick up his cocaine-addict brother Adam from jail and take him home. While he takes a leak at the gas station, Adam inhales the spray containing the retrovirus with the "maturity or aging" gene intended for the rats thinking it was something to get high on. Adam suddenly "matures", goes into rehab, and gets a decent job. Josh' Mom tells a lot of people and Josh gives it to Eric Graham, a friend. Josh' partner Tom Weller, gets a phone call informing him his Dad died. He calls sister Lisa who insists he is not her father. Lisa gets a paternity test from the frozen blood sample which comes out negative. Her Mom insists on tests of her own to counter Lisa. The test shows he might have been poisoned with a substance and that he had the gene for heart disease. Mrs. Weller decided to cremate the body to get rid of any evidence but she is surprised to learn it could not happen because the arm and leg bones were replaced with metal pipes. She sues the mortuary and Tom sues the lab because the public document led his insurance to cancel his policy after learning about the heart disease gene. Meanwhile, at the Radial Genomics at La Jolla, Henry Kendall receives a phone call from his former employer, National Institute of Health about a female chimpanzee, Mary, he was working with four years before. Mary's offspring, Dave, is transgenic, looks like a chimpanzee but talks like a human. They want to compare Dave's DNA with his. Henry kidnaps Dave and takes him home. His wife Lynn accepts him as his son and they come up with Gandler-Kreukheim syndrome, a genetic mutation to explain Dave's appearance to their children, Tracy and Jamie. Dave goes to school with them and gets into all kinds of trouble with his "chimp" behavior. There are more plots going on about a French talking orangutan, a turtle with a glowing shell, a talking parrot...and genes that are debated on...the sociability gene, the gay gene, the risk-taking gene. Towards the end of the book, Frank Burnet disappears while all BioGen's Burnet cell cultures gets contaminated. Diehl hires Borden to kidnap Alex and son Jamie to get fresh blood samples and the pursuit takes them to the Kendall's house. How is Alex and Jamie going to escape from this? And where is Frank when they needed him most? Adam Winkler grows old fast while Eric Graham dies of a heart attack at twenty-one years old. Josh finds out the hard way that the maturity gene is not working right? What is he going to go with the lawsuit
I read this one a week or so ago and enjoyed it. Crichton has a knack for making his science fiction sound so factual it's hard to know what to believe. This book certainly provides some food for thought, and with stem-cell testing in the news again this week, it is still a timely novel.
Typical Crichton, fast paced action with a number of stories that interconnect through the book all related to genetic engineering. Unlike many of his other books I found this one a little disappointing. There was a little too much going on and the connections and conclusions were not always well fleshed out. It is still worth reading for any Crichton fans but if this is your first Crichton I would recommend starting elsewhere (State of Fear, or Prey).
A bit of a let down for me. I have been reading Michael Crichton's books for years and I hope the publisher will soon release some of the stories he was working on prior to his most sad departure. I believe the first novel was "Andromeda Strain" (although I thought the characters in this story needed developed more thoroughly) and of course "Jurassic Park" and then there was "State of Fear" which I enjoyed and a few others. But, I must say that this novel, "Next" had a lot to be desired. I would even go so far as to say it was a bigggg disappointment. Sorry. It wasn't because of the splattering of foul language, which I'm not a big fan of, (I never understood why authors have to fill pages up with profanity.) Many stories will stand on its own without it or toned down to a reasonable level. Just my point of view.I thought that in the novel the plot never really materialized and the characters were never fully developed. I never felt I knew the character, Henry Kendall, the researcher. I would have liked Mr. Crichton to have spent more time to allow the reader know what makes this guy tick. After all, he has mixed the human and chimp DNA to produce a hybrid child. Also, on a side note, I wasn't enthralled with the talking chimp and parrot. If those characters had met a quick end, I would not have been sorry to see them go. On the surface when you read the synopsis one would think that this novel would be a interesting, and a exciting read. However this was no page turner and for me it was a let down.
I may not have agreed with Critchon and the ideas he presented in this novel but it was a fun entertaining read regardless.
This was not necessarily a bad novel (I still rated it right around average!) but suffice it to say that it is the worst Crichton novel that I have read thus far. I think where Next fails is that Mr. Crichton tried to get too many storylines going in order to have them all running simultaneously in an effort to show a more grand scope to his issues of possible problems with genetic research.The main problem here is that many of the characters became washed out and meaningless. There is just so much going on with so many different characters that I kept having to reset and figure out who was who and exactly what was going on with them. I think that he had the bones here to craft a really good storyline, but would have benefited tremendously from a heavy dose of self-editing and then expanding the tales of those characters that he felt most essential to keep.What came out of this book for me was confusing and subsequently, quite boring. Michael Crichton is one of my favorite authors in contemporary fiction however and I am not discouraged enough by one stinker to stop reading his novels.
I vaguely remember the fast pace and an excellent character being a chimp (?) speaking in French accent (maybe named Marcel??).
In "Next," science fiction author Michael Crichton returns to his most fertile subject matter, genetic engineering. Weaving together several stories involving scientists, corporate executives, tourists, hired thugs, and an artificially created simian, Crichton blends fact, scientific potential, and fantasy into a page-turning narrative.Unfortunately, unlike several previous novels that clung, however breathtakingly, to fantastic plausibility, this novel frequently descends into the absurd and ridiculous. This is enormously disappointing given the quality of many of Crichton's previous novels, especially such classics as "The Andromeda Strain" and "Jurassic Park." While the late authors literary skills are evident, they never coalesce into a pleasing novel here.In part, this is due to Crichton's attempt to offer a complex narrative of multiple overlapping stories that eventually converge, similar to films such as "Crash" and "Babel." Too often, this ambitious approach leads to confusion and disinterest. Those who tend to be critical of Crichton's character development might blame the confusion on that, though it is more likely due to the author's intentional use of multiple narrative voices, including frequent extended quotations of journalistic sources (whether these are actual quotations or fictitious creations attributed to real sources is never clear).Fans of Crichton's previous books are unlikely to appreciate this attempt, while those unfamiliar with his work will likely the unimpressed.
I enjoyed this book, all the bio-engineering being such a debatable point in nowadays culture. We follow multiple story of people who's lives are (or about to be) impacted by Bio-Engineering. From a talking African Grey parrot who gets kidnapped, to a family who adopts a half-human, half ape as a son. To Researchers trying to develop a gene that will cure addictions... This book as a lot of characters and needs to be read in a short period of time if one doesn't want to be lost.I always enjoyed the Crichton book. This one didn't disappoint.
The subject matter was interesting but, to me it seemed like the way the story told was all over the place. I felt like I was watching what life is like for some one with ADD. Who really puts in 95 chapters in a book anyway?
The worst of Michael Crichton's work that I've read to date. It seemed like a hog-pog of notes from other books all combined into one.