This time it is Genetics – the theme of the latest Michael Crichton sci-fi novel Next. The ability of the writer to take any technology, look ahead at what could happen, and then weave a story around it is amazing. Here he takes Genetics (Michael Crichton already has a book on that – Jurassic Park) and lets the industries patent genes (which means that a part of human body is owned by corporate), the researchers develop transgenic pets (a parrot that does mathematical calculations, and a part ape – part human chimpanzee that talks and has human traits), and unabated findings of genes that control maturity, hair-colour, risk-taking, rebel behaviour and what not!
Many sub-plots were running in parallel throughout the book and so initially the book seemed very disconnected, I assumed that somehow the sub-plots would converge and there would be some sort of grand-finale. But it was like reading 3-4 novels simultaneously – sometimes it got really confusing, and I would flip back to see who was who. All sub-novels (is there any such word?) met their respective ends and the only connecting thread among all was Genetics.
The novel was surely a thriller, an engrossing science fiction, but it was very confusing. Surprisingly in this science fiction there were many lengthy legal proceedings – making it seem like a John Grisham novel sometimes… Copious research has preceded this novel as apparent from the multi-page bibliography. And the conclusions drawn by Crichton in the Author’s Note logically follows from the book.
Although, the best part of the book was its disclaimer, “This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren’t.“