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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.
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
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.
This was one of the poorest books I have ever read. The story line "dragged" its feet, the characters lacked depth, and overall it was filled with filthy language that was not necessary (unless you are some kind of drone that gets a thrill about filth). It would not make me want to read any others. Overall - this was surprising due to the high quality of his Jurassic novels.
I liked the part where Mrs. Bond found out that her parrot was helping her son with his math homework.
I found this book a bit confusing at first, being about twelve when i read it, but when i got the hang if it it was an incredible read. Truly spectacular.
Sadly, Crighton's last published work. All his books were great. Well written, though provoking, characters you cared about. The consument writer for our age.