HarperCollins Publishers: NY, 2006.
Next deals with concepts of trans-species genetic engineering. The feeling is that we are on the edge of huge breakthroughs in this area. Breakthroughs that would enable us to modify behavior in various ways, supply as much transplant material as is needed for the growing demand, and take marketing in a direction never dreamed of. The possibilities are so exciting researchers are ignoring the regulations and working in secret. Consequences are showing up all over the globe. Things that make such bizarre headlines they cannot be true.
There are several characters to follow here, all related to one genetic engineering company. A company that is struggling to survive, a company that owns a person's cells and pursues them physically, a company caught in the act of banned modification, a company in the midst of a hostile takeover.
This excerpt taken from the book's cover sums it up:
Next challenges our sense of REALITY and notions of MORALITY. Balancing the COMIC and the BIZARRE with the genuinely FRIGHTENING and DISTURBING, Next shatters our assumptions and reveals SHOCKING new choices where we least expect.
There is one shocking occurrence after another in the story. Many of them set off by crazy headlines and articles. Some of the politics is different than what we expect in our society. However, maybe it isn't too farfetched given the huge moneymaking prospects in this field. We do have the same sense of secrecy in our society surrounding genetic engineering. By the time the public knows what is happening it may very well be too late.
This is a provocative book, playing on people's fears,
certainly, but also possibly opening eyes. The fact is
genetic engineering can take us in directions we could
never expect, directions we don't want to go in. What we
don't know can hurt us. Where is the regulation? Are we
depending on researchers' sense of morality to limit what
they try? A dangerous presumption. We have seen with
corporations that if there is no explicit regulation
against it, they believe it is legal (ex. the selling of
people's retirements as assets in mergers in the 1990s). Do
you believe our government officials are knowledgeable
enough to regulate this field? Crichton uses known
possibilities and extends the ideas just a little farther
than where we are for a riveting, adventure-full story.
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