Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Next" a review

I just finished reading the novel 'Next' by Michael Crichton. If you like science fiction, I recommend it but with a few caveats mentioned below. This novel is about transgenitics, the crossing of genes of humans with other animals and the consequences of allowing the patenting of genes.

I think Mr. Crichton does a good job of concretizing just what can and will go wrong when genes are patented. There is a family whose genes are "owned" by a corporation who has hired a bounty hunter to extract from them the genes they own. This ownership of course was granted by the government. There is a parrot who is good at math and wise cracks, an orangutan who speaks French and a chimp who speaks English.

Like his previous novel "State of Fear", this one is sprinkled with actual newspaper and magazine clippings on the subject of genetics. At the end of the story is his essay on what conclusions he came to and his recommendations which are:
1]Stop patenting genes,
2]Clearer guidelines for the use of human tissue,
3]Pass laws that make info on gene testing public,
4]Avoid bans on research,
5]Rescind the Bayh-Dole Act.

The things I didn't care for were the many short chapters each one continuing a different storyline. I think some of these could have been combined into longer chapters for a smoother read. It seemed a little herky-jerky to me.

I also was disappointed in the author's increased use of the f-word. It wasn't necessary. I sure hope I'm not seeing the beginnings of a downward spiral of quality here ala another famous mystery writer.

I'm not a scientist or lawyer but I now think patenting genes is a bad idea. Patenting processes whereby genes are modified in some way I would agree with but the whole idea of giving ownership of genes to someone other than the person in which they reside is a violation of that person's sovereignty of self which is guaranteed by the right to life.

In summary, as a work of fiction and advocacy, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.
If you are interested, there are reviews of it here and here.
Post a Comment