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Next by Michael Crichton
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's review
May 05, 2009

it was amazing
Read in May, 2009

NEXT (The novel) is a vehicle for the author, Michael Crichton, to continue (“Terminal Man,” “Jurassic Park,” “Travels,” “Andromeda Strain,” “Timeline”) his inquiry into the human condition, specifically, its epigenesis--or the interaction between genes and environment, which manifests in the behavior of individuals and moreover, the consequences of that behavior. I love this type of novel, but acknowledge that many readers don’t. It’s about theory: Maybes and what ifs. It looks at the way things are, the way humans are, and asks: Why? And what might happen if we humans don’t understand just what it is we are doing when we play around with that interaction. This novel ponders questions dear to me like: When and how and why did apes and humans diverge into separate species and what was that like, the transformative experience? Are there, could there have been, two distinct human brains? (See my novel: ATTACHMENT.”) Crichton doesn’t think highly of “human nature.” That should be evident if one is a persistent reader of his work (which I am.) In this novel he looks at the “genetic defense” i.e. my genes made me do it: pedophilia, alcoholism, conventionalism, obedience to authority, antisocial personality, etc. and that nothing can be done … unless, of course, it’s done at the genetic level, or gene modification (GM). The heroes of this novel are a genetically modified chimpanzee and parrot. The people, not so much. They are, as he inserts early in the story, inclined to “lie, cheat, steal from one another, sue, hide data, fake data, overstate their own importance, and denigrate opposing views unfairly. That’s human nature. It isn’t going to change.”

I didn’t care much for “State of Fear.” I thought the writing was trite and didn’t buy into his conspiratorial theory. This one I like. It’s ironic and funny and more plausible. I love the parrot, the teller of truths! I think Crichton would have liked to believe in humanity, but saw just too much evidence against mankind. I will miss him. He was a kindred spirit.


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