Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Next is a "dark comedy" exposing some of the critical problems that genetic advances are giving our legal system. It has some of the "thriller" qualities of other Chrichton books, complete with the "this could be possible" scariness. However, it seems to be more of a comedy, with bad guys suffering strange fates (often of their own doing.)

The novel consists of a number of distinct "stories", with the common thread being that most people are involved to some extent with biological research. Everyone has their foibles (with marital fidelity being a common challenge.) The number of characters and stories does get overwhelming, though many of them do find their way together at the end.

Bounty hunters go chasing after a man's offspring for his "stolen cells". A "whistle blower" indicts his boss for "organ harvesting" he did. A 20-something drug addict, hunts down an anonymous sperm donor to extract restitution for "bad genes". A daughter is "protected" from her mother because she is using reproductive-related drugs. A ruthless biotech businessman who has become rich on gene patents dies because the gene related to his disease has not been studied due to a gene patent. And of course, there is a chimp-human hybrid that gets in trouble at a school and a fully senescent parrot that has serious French attitude. And those are just some of the characters involved.

It does bring about some serious concerns with the speed of technology and the slowness of the law to catch up. However, the vast number of characters and their depravity can make it difficult to follow.

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