|Next novel cover
|Science fiction novel, Techno-thriller, Dystopian novel
|November 28, 2006
|Print (Hardcover, Large print), E-book, Audio book
|State of Fear
We live in a time of staggering advances in science, medicine, and research. Problems and conditions that were crippling and life-threatening years ago are now close to being eradicated or controlled by medicine and advances in science. All of this progress is wonderful, but have you ever stopped to wonder what price we may have to pay in order to receive these benefits?
Michael Crichton’s Next takes place in the present world, where both the government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research. The novel follows a host of characters, including transgenic animals, in their quest to survive in a world dominated by genetic research, corporate greed, and legal intervention.
Crichton explores the legal issues surrounding genetic research and questioning the control the court can exert on individuals. BioGen is a leading genetic research company embroiled in a lawsuit with Frank Burnet, a cancer survivor whose cells were taken without his knowledge. The company claims they bought the rights to the cells and that Frank no longer has the right to profit from their sale. After the court decides in BioGen’s favor, Frank disappears and BioGen asserts they own the rights to the Burnet cell line, including the cells of Frank’s daughter and grandson. BioGen then decides to harvest the cells from Alex and Jamie Burnet with or without their consent, causing Alex to flee with her son.
BioGen is also researching what they call the "maturity" gene and the effects exposure to this gene has on lab rats. Josh, a researcher at BioGen, accidentally exposes his drug addicted brother to the gene. His brother becomes a sober, responsible individual, which causes Josh’s mother to spread the good news of this miracle cure to her friends and relatives. Josh must then decide if he will expose the gene to these people illegally. He knows that this treatment does seem to cure addiction, but he is unsure of how people will be affected by the treatment in the long run. Is it better to try to help without knowing the consequences, or should he refuse to help until he knows more about the treatment?
Henry Kendall is a genetic researcher who learns that the half human, half ape embryo he implanted in an ape years ago actually resulted in a transgenic ape-child. Henry and his family struggle to raise the boy, Dave, as they attempt to hide the true nature of the boy's genetic makeup. However, Dave is not the only transgenic character in the book. A transgenic parrot named Gerard and a talking orangutan in Sumatra also figure prominently in the novel.
Does the government have adequate checks and balances on the genetic research currently being conducted in the United States? Is the legal system spiraling out of control and usurping the rights guaranteed in the Constitution?
Next is a novel that poses more questions that it could possibly answer and allows the reader to question their own beliefs and convictions.
Diehl is the founder of Biogen, a genetic research company. He demands unprecedented genetic testing in divorce proceedings in order to gain custody of his children and torture his wife. He regrets involving Jack Watson in his business.
Watson is a major investor in BioGen. He is very affluent and powerful. He wants complete control of BioGen and is looking for a way to get Diehl out of his way.
Burnet is a cancer survivor whose cell line was taken without his consent.
Alex is Frank’s daughter who is defending him in court in order to retain the rights to his cell line. Bounty hunters pursue her for her inherited cell line.
A coroner who is involved with the illegal sale of corpse bones.
Winkler is a researcher at BioGen. He discovers a treatment for drug addiction involving exposing patients to the maturity gene. He also conducts illegal research on humans.
The owner of Gerard, the transgenic parrot, who helps her son with his homework. Gail does not approve.
A powerful genetic researcher with strong ties to the government and the religious right.
A genetic researcher who once conducted research on apes. He is the father of Dave, a lab created transgenic ape-boy.
An inept security guard at BioGen. He is the nephew of Jack Watson. He is arrested and charged with rape. His defense is that he has a gene that predisposes him to take risks and to act impulsively.
Vasco Borden, a private detective, follows Eddie Tolman to a conference in Las Vegas. Tolman is a postdoc who stole twelve transgenic embryos from Micro Proteonomics, his former employer.
Jack Watson is a speaker at the conference. He is a multi-millionaire, making his money in biotech advancement. While Watson is speaking, Vasco loses Tolman, but soon finds him outside. Vasco continues to follow Tolmam.
Rick Diehl, CEO of BioGen Research, watched Watson’s speech. Diehl had accepted funding from Watson in the past, but now regrets it. He knows Watson wants to kick him out of his own company.
Vasco sees Watson leaving with a woman. They walk towards Tolman, but do not talk to each other. Instead, the woman bends towards Tolman and appears to adjust her shoe.
Irina Katayeva, a prostitute, brings Tolman what looks like a bottle of wine in a velvet bag. It is the container of frozen embryos.
Vasco and Dolly follow Tolman and Irina to a restaurant where they meet a dark-skinned man. Tolman runs when Dolly takes a picture, but Vasco follows him. Tolman gets into a tiny service elevator and opens the thermos, releasing the gas and killing himself.
The embryos are missing from the thermos. Irina and the dark-skinned man are also missing.
Alex Burnet is defending her father in court. Frank Burnet is suing the University of California. He became ill and sought treatment for leukemia from Dr. Gross. The cancer appeared to go away, but one year later, Dr. Gross called him back for extensive testing. Each visit, he is handed stacks of forms to sign. He eventually refuses to sign the forms when he realizes some are releases to permit the commercial use of his tissues. Dr. Gross then refuses to treat him.
After talking to his lawyer, Frank learns his cells had been sold to a drug company called BioGen.
During cross examination, Frank reveals that he did sign a release allowing his cells to be used for research. This is done to confuse the jury and weakens Burnet’s case.
Diehl has an appointment with Barry Sindler, a divorce attorney. Sindler has the reputation of being a ruthless lawyer.
Diehl requests that his wife be genetically tested. Huntington’s disease runs in her family, and she refused testing in the past because she doesn’t want to know if she will get the disease. He says this will ruin her life.
Hagar is leading a group of tourists through the jungles of Sumatra at a sanctuary for orangutans. The tourists hear one swear at them in Dutch and French.
Henry Kendall is contacted by the National Institutes of Health. He once worked there with the primates, doing research on autism. They claim they are just filling out additional paperwork for Dr. Bellarmino.
A news article is released discussing how humans and chimps interbred until recently. The article disputes the possibility of breeding chimps and humans today.
Another article is released, revealing that the "master" gene, a gene that allows a person to dominate other people. People with this gene also want to conform.
BioGen created a retrovirus, which accelerates maturational behaviors in rats. This could have a serious impact in Alzheimer and senility treatment.
Josh, a researcher a BioGen, leaves the lab to pick up his drug addicted brother. He realizes he has a cylinder of the retrovirus in his car, but does not drive back to the lab. His brother, Adam, inhales the virus.
Alex informs Frank that they lost the case. She tells him they can appeal.
Opposing council tells Alex that the California Board of Regents will tell the court they acquired Frank’s cells through eminent domain. They offer no settlement.
A man approaches Alex and Frank, telling them he can get Frank’s cells back to sell to another company so that Frank can profit. The man will not identify himself.
Tom learns his father has died. His mother asks him to leave work and tell his estranged sister, Lisa. Lisa always claimed the man was never her father. She asks Tom to help her with a paternity test. She later learns he was not her father. Her mother wants to sue her for accusing her of infidelity.
Tom’s mother sues the hospital for releasing tissue to Lisa. The lab decides to say all the tissues and organs they kept are lost.
Charlie Huggins is prevented researching the ‘novelty" gene in his lab by Bellarmino, an evangelical Christian and researcher. The gene causes people to engage in risky behaviors. They discover that Bellarmino stole the experiement they submitted and is running the experiment himself.
Barry Sindler, Rick Diehl’s lawyer, tells Mrs. Diehl they are requesting she undergo a full battery of genetic testing. She refuses, and Sindler tells her he will get permission from the judge.
Josh’s mother calls and asks him what he said to Adam, who now is clean and has a job. Adam told his mother that Josh gave him mouse spray. His mother told two friends whose children are drug addicts and now they want the spray. Josh tells his mother not to talk about it anymore. He gets the address of Eric Graham, one of the children addicted to drugs. Josh gets another canister of the virus and waits for Eric.
Emily, Tom’s mother, has her husband’s body exhumed for further testing.
It is possible that John Weller, the father, was a chimera, a person having two different sets of DNA in their body. Because of this possibility, the body is supposed taken to the hospital to get the extra samples. Tom asks them to take the samples at the grave, which they do as a favor.
Marty Roberts realizes he could lose his license for taking the samples graveside. Marty also realizes that someone stole John Weller’s bones because the arms and legs are so skinny. Marty’s assistant, Raza, lets his brother come in and harvest the bones for resale. He is told Raza’s brother is the one who gave Lisa the blood sample.
Marty decides he has to do something about Raza soon.
Diehl’s car is stolen from the BioGen parking lot. The security tape shows someone followed him and stole his car as soon as he went in the building. He thinks his wife took his car.
Hagar and international camera crews are waiting in the jungle for the talking orangutan. The camera crews begin a brawl while waiting.
Watson tells Diehl that the theft of his car is part of a pattern that could lead to a massive databank theft.
Diehl meets with Jacqueline Maurer, a representative from a security firm. He hires her firm to beef up his security and get rid of Brad Gordon, the inept security guard that is related to Watson.
A girl named Kelly approaches Brad and asks to use his cell phone. After she uses the phone, she hits on Brad. He leaves with her.
Marty learns that the autopsy of John Weller was botched and wonders if Raza is to blame because he was in a hurry to harvest the bones. The new tox screen shows a diuretic in Weller’s system. Marty begins to think Weller was poisoned.
Marty calls Emily and convinces her to have her husband’s body cremated. This will ensure he will never get caught for his crime.
Ellis Levine, an accountant in New York, stops his mother from buying expensive clothing. His parents are bankrupt, and he and his brothers are supporting the parents.
Dr. Bellarmino delivers a speech claiming that bioengineering is God’s work. He later testifies before the House Select Committee on Genetics and Health on the benefits of gene patenting.
Emily Weller calls Roberts from the mortuary. Her husband cannot be cremated because metal pipes have been placed where his bones should be. Marty tells her she should not tell the police because then he would have to tell them the drugs found in her husband’s system were prescribes to her. She decides to rebury her husband and chooses not to contact the police.
Tom Weller sues the hospital because his health insurance is cancelled. The autopsy results are online and show that his father has the heart disease gene. Tom is dropped because of this. The hospital drops the Weller investigation. Marty becomes extremely aggravated at the hospital for this.
Raza tells Marty he is leaving for another job.
Josh’s mother calls and asks him to steal another canister. Her cousins, the Levines, are irresponsible and relying too much on their adult children.
While Josh is on the phone, two police officers arrest Brad for the rape of a minor.
Brad claims he only had oral sex with the girl, and she flushed the condom containing his DNA. However, the girl admitted herself to the hospital with anal tears, genital injuries, and his semen in her rectum. The audio stress meters prove Brad isn’t lying, but it will be impossible to prove in court.
Henry Kendall brings a blood sample to Marty to be analyzed. He thinks it is a chimp’s blood. He wants it crosschecked with his own DNA.
Josh researches the patents that may have claims on the maturity gene he is experimenting with. He decides to buy the patent.
Diehl learns his wife fled rather than submit to the testing. He now has custody of his children.
A young man approaches Brad and tells him he was set up. Someone knew his patterns by accessing the GPS on his phone and knew his weaknesses. He tells Brad he will help him, but does not tell him his name, only that Brad's uncle sent him.
Josh learns that his mother called his boss, Diehl, and told him about Josh’s research. Diehl gives Josh a promotion.
A gene is identified that causes people to want to conform. A panel names it the sociability gene and applies for a patent.
The National Institute of Health discusses the case of a young girl who lived her life attached to various machines. She died at the age of twelve after consenting to a risky gene transplantation. Her family is suing the hospital, claiming they were uninformed.
Bellarmino argues in favor of the procedure and defends the doctor as a groundbreaker.
Gail Bond is called to her son’s school because someone is doing her son’s homework. She notices green and white splotches on the assignment.
Gail realizes their parrot, Gerard, who received human genes as a chick, has been helping her son with his homework.
Gail videotapes the bird, who tells her that her husband is cheating on her. He threatens the bird.
Brad is approached by a woman who works for Watson. She tells Brad to contaminate Frank Burnet’s cell lines to scare off investors. Watson will then have a greater share when news of the gene that cures drug addiction comes out.
Henry gets the results of the tests and plans to travel to Bethesda.
Henry arrives in Bethesda and meets a small ape-child named Dave who asks if he is his mother. He learns Dave will be killed because he is the product of an illegal experiment. Henry removes Dave from the facility and starts driving to California.
Henry explains how he is related to Dave to his wife. Several years ago, he inserted his genes into a chimpanzee embryo as an experiment. Before the experiment ended, the apes were transferred, and he assumed the fetus had died as expected.
Henry and his wife decide to tell everyone that Dave is a human child with Hypertrichosis, a rare condition and put fake case reports on the Internet.
A press conference is held in China to dispel rumors of human-ape cross-breeding.
Mark Sanger is a "wet artist" who created art from living things, such as creating glowing bunnies by injecting them with the luminescent genes of a firefly.
Roberts is arrested for selling organs from corpses and forging death certificates. Raza turned Roberts in and testified against him.
Nine rats that had been exposed to the maturity gene died. Although they were under one year old, they died of old age.
Josh’s brother Adam looks fifteen years older than his actual age now and is complaining of aches and pains. Josh wants Adam to be checked by a doctor.
At a briefing in Washington for congressmen, a scientist tells the group that scientists are starting to look at how genes interact with the environment to produce the trends they see developing.
Dave becomes part of Henry’s family and goes to school.
Ellis Levine exposes both his parents to the maturity gene.
Diehl sees the security tape of Brad breaking into BioGen and destroying Burnet’s cell line. This could destroy his company.
Gail returns home to find Gerard missing. Her husband says it was an accident.
Alex receives a call from her father, who is going away for a few weeks.
An advertising agency in London showcases the future of advertising- placing logos and ads on coral and animals. This is called genomic advertising.
The audience is not receptive, and it is revealed that someone has already done this.
A glowing purple turtle is spotted in Costa Rica. Three have been seen so far. The light keeps jaguars away when the turtles lay their eggs. The turtles also appear to have a symbol on them.
One of the drug addicts Josh exposed to the maturity gene dies at 21 of a heart attack.
Josh reveals that he did not send the Levines the gene. He sent them sterile saline.
Gail’s husband gives Gerard to one of his clients.
Bellarmino gives a press conference on cloning, saying human cloning is not unethical, but it is currently not possible. A student asks him if it is ethical to eliminate certain socially undesirable genes. He evades the question.
Hagar is still in the jungle with international camera crews. A wildlife photographer is preparing to shoot the orangutan with a tranquilizer. He plans to bring the ape to the media himself.
The photographer records the ape speaking. He hits the ape with three darts, causing the ape to crash 150 feet to the ground. He tries to resuscitate the ape.
Diehl’s lawyer tells him that he owns the Burnet cell line, including the cells of his children and grandchildren. They contact a bounty hunter to bring Alex and her son in.
Vasco Borden is hired to bring in the Burnets. He decides to go after Alex’s eight year old son.
Brad’s attorney wants to present a genetic defense that will claim he is not responsible for the rape because he has a genetic abnormality that does not allow him to suppress impulses.
His lawyer tells him to take a trip, engaging in as much risky behavior as he can muster in order to build his defense. Brad brings a gun with him.
Dave bites another child at school.
Alex rushes to school when the school about someone trying to pick up her son, Jamie. The men try to take Alex, but she fights back.
Alex realizes bounty hunters are chasing them. She realizes BioGen is after their cells.
Alex trades cars with her secretary and takes Jamie on the road. She gets a package from her father with cash and a cell phone. She also receives instruction to call him when they are safe.
Bellarmino’s wife notices their sixteen year old daughter has lots of bruises. Bellarmino tells his wife to search her room.
Gerard annoys his new owner, and he gives the parrot to his stewardess. She gives Gerard to Stan, who plans to give Gerard to his aunt.
The photographer is unable to record the talking ape in captivity.
Bellarmino’s wife discovers their daughter has been injecting herself with fertility drugs.
Dr. Martin Bennett is at work when a woman claiming to be his daughter visits. He does not believe her until she tells him she is the product of a sperm donation he made as a resident. She threatens to sue him, claiming he gave her genes that predisposed her to heroin and cocaine addiction.
Georgia Bellarmino discovers her daughter may be selling her eggs to earn money, possibly for breast implants.
Two senators consider a law that would prevent teenage girls from selling their eggs. They decide it is too late.
Ellis Levine discovers the maturity spray did not work. He and his brothers consider suing BioGen.
Dave is attacked by the boy he bit at school. He throws feces at the boy and his friends to defend himself. Billy, the boy, promises to get his father’s gun and shoot Dave.
Stan starts driving Gerard to California, where his aunt lives.
Henry and his wife are fighting about Dave when they hear a gunshot in the backyard.
Alex checks into a motel.
Billy shoots at Dave, who takes off after Billy.
Billy locks himself in a car and Dave throws himself at the car. Dave disappears when the police arrive.
Alex realizes the bounty hunter is on her trail. Alex steals a shotgun from the motel and drives away.
Gerard is driving Stan crazy on their road trip. He considers letting Gerard go.
The Levines discuss going further with the lawsuit. They decide to pursue the case.
Brad is severely beaten in a Wyoming bar fight. He leaves town before he is charged with a hate crime.
Mark Sanger is arrested for possession of dangerous materials and for causing irreparable harm to the Costa Rican turtles. He did research how to make the turtles glow, but he could not figure it out.
Stan is lost and Gerard is still jabbering on. Stan forces Gerard out of the car and leaves.
Gerard is surrounded by a pack of wild animals.
Vasco is still tracking Alex. He thinks she is heading South.
Gerard flies away from the attacking animals and flies toward the smell of food.
A group of men wake Alex up and tell her someone is looking for her.
Congress decides they can do nothing about recombinant DNA technology.
Vasco figures out that Alex is heading to the Kendalls. Henry’s wife is a friend.
Alex calls a lawyer friend to represent her in court against BioGen.
Alex arrives at the Kendalls.
Henry realizes something must be done about Dave. He puts GPS devices in the children’s sneakers.
Vasco cannot enter the Kendall home legally, so he waits for Alex to leave the house.
Gerard considers the other birds he meets to be stupid.
Vasco grabs Jamie Kendall instead of Jamie Burnet. Dave attacks Vasco and bites off his ear, saving Jamie Kendall.
The judge hears the case against Alex. He will make a ruling the next day.
Vasco drives the Hummer on the Kendall’s lawn and kidnaps Jamie Burnet. Henry locates Jamie by accessing the GPS code from Dave’s shoe, which somehow got in the Hummer.
Alex and Henry go after Jamie. They follow the signal to a spa where cosmetic surgery is performed. Gerard helps them locate Jamie.
Dave attacks Vasco again and Jamie runs to his mother. Vasco leaves before the police arrive.
Josh’s brother is dying in a hospital. He tells Josh it isn’t his fault he is dying.
The judge rules that BioGen does not own the Burnet cells and cannot legally take them from Alex and Jamie.
Rick Diehl is facing the loss of his company. He is visited by the private security company he hired earlier.
Frank Burnet meets with Jack Watson, who tells him their plan worked. Diehl has resigned from BioGen and Watson has total control. Frank can return to his family.
Brad is riding roller coasters when he is approached by men in white coats. One of them is Dr. Bellarmino, who Brad shoots. Brad is then shot by security.
Watson learns he has a degenerative condition. A company owns the rights to the gene causing his condition, but they are not for sale. Watson has no legal options.
An autopsy is performed on the orangutan where they find features commonly found in the human neck. They determine the ape is not part human, but an aberrant ape.
Jack Watson dies from his condition.
The public learns about Dave and Gerard, who are both living with the Kendalls.
Henry is named Scientist of the Year by a Libertarian group and becomes a popular speaker on the lecture circuit.
Gerard makes European dial tone noises, and with the help of a visiting French student of Henry's, the Kendalls are able to contact Gail Bond in Paris.
While at a county fair, a farmer sees Henry and Dave and mentions how he would like to have a transgenic human-zee to work on his farm. The comment sends chills through Henry's body.