Sunday, 5 August 2007

Next by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton

Lucille Redmond

CRICHTON likes to scare the tripes out of us.

He's succeeded admirably with Jurassic Park, Next and a plethora of other scary stories based on nasty things happening because scientists get trigger-happy.

This time they're genetically engineering humans, thinking "Hmm, wonder what would happen if we threw a few human genes into a parrot… or a chimp…"

Crichton's fans know what will happen. Evil corporations will use their innocent discoveries to wreak havoc.

So it is that we soon have life insurance cancelled when someone's reported as having a gene for heart disease.

Oh no. It's not the man with heart disease whose insurance is cancelled - it's his son, who's now defined as 'pre-ill', and therefore uninsurable, because he shares the gene.

And the family of a man whose cells have the ability to cure cancer have to go on the run - because the evil corporation's supply of the cells has been stolen, and they want to (forcibly) take more from his kids and grandkids.

This is a book to gobble up for distraction, while noting the science stuff in your paranoia jotter. But it's not one of Crichton's best. It lacks a strong central character you can identify with - too many, too similar, too anodyne American characters.

But a great book for distraction, all the same.

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