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Author Topic: Michael Chrichton's Next
happymann
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So, I just finished reading this book. I was surprised at the lack of storyline (at least for 75% of the book). Do you think that the human genome should be owned?
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scholar
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I have not read the book. But just last Friday, we invited a patent lawyer to our journal club and he discussed the current standing on patenting the genome. While initially everything was being patented as quickly as possible, the patent agency decided that was just crazy and you had to have a clear use. I can't just patent a gene (but I could patent something that targeted that gene or a diagnostic technique based on the sequence). It sounded like a fair system.
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0Megabyte
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So. If genes were patented, what would happen to those of us who have such genes?

Would they expect us to pay royalties for living, or worse, for reproducing?

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BandoCommando
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I started reading this in December and never got around to finishing it. It really had so little of a story line?

Too bad. Crichton is so good at coming up with interesting premises, but doesn't seem to be able to follow through with them or retain interest with connections to the human element. Jurassic Park, for instance. Fascinating premise, but a rather boring read. It is no wonder that the film producers changed so much (making the owner/operator of the island into a nice guy that the readers actually care about, for instance).

And E.R., too, is another example. Come up with an interesting setting for a serious drama, then let other writers come up with the actual story.

I can't remember "Sphere" or "Andromeda Strain" well enough to recall if they have similar issues. I *think* I remember having empathy with the characters in Sphere, but I last read it in 7th grade, so, who knows?

Of course, I say this not having finished Next...

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camus
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I actually really enjoyed all of the old Crichton books like, Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery, Terminal Man, Andromeda Strain, Congo, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure. Sure, they had their faults, but they were a fun, enjoyable read.

Perhaps I enjoyed them because I was young when I read them. The latest ones seemed to have little story line and character development. After reading Timeline, Prey, and State of Fear, I think I've mostly lost interest in Crichton books.

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BlackBlade
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Essentially any gene therapy involving that gene would have to pay royalties to the patent owner.

I finished Next around Christmas time and I was sad the story was so lacking, but the premise was indeed interesting.

I think gene patenting is counter productive to all the research we could do to our genes and severely cuts into the wonderful products that could be created by such uninhibited research. I agree that corporations have no right to patent genes, but there is certainly a strong legal precedent for patenting them.

[ March 03, 2008, 11:21 PM: Message edited by: BlackBlade ]

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Mucus
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Gene patenting seems somewhat analogous to Internet domain squatting because the technology required to identify a gene as being critical in the development of a disease or a particular trait is high-throughput, can be easy to use, and (relatively ) low cost. I'm thinking microarrays or tandem MS/MS, both of which are forms of hardware which are rapidly approaching almost off-the-shelf commodities.

On the other hand, the R&D required to develop a new drug of therapy to actually do something about a particular gene and then the clinical trials afterwards can be enormous, is rather low-throughput, error prone, and high cost.

Thus, I am concerned that it will be very easy for companies to patent many of these critical genes, sit on them, and prevent further research until they either get around to it or unless someone pays them off. Hopefully the second post is correct and the system is working around this disparity.

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anti_maven
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I actually thought that Next was a pretty good was of discussing some of the trickier aspects of genome patenting without putting it into a dry essay.

The storyline is made up of a series of threaded vignettes, and I thought it worked pretty well.

Worthier material than his book on nano technology at any rate.

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Zhil
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Next made me crazy angry. I threw that book across the room. I paid good money for what I assumed would be a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of new technologies and entertainment, but I only got the former, not the latter.

Shape up, Michael Chrichton! I know you know story structure and plot pacing! Where is the author who wrote Sphere?! [Mad]

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ricree101
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quote:
Originally posted by Zhil:
Next made me crazy angry. I threw that book across the room. I paid good money for what I assumed would be a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of new technologies and entertainment, but I only got the former, not the latter.

Didn't you read State of Fear? After reading that book (and to a lesser extent some of the ones before it) I really didn't expect the story in Next to be anything beyond barely mediocre.
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