REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT
Crichton, a fabulist who writes about science, turns his narrative powers on human genetics. Researchers will have a field day debunking the details, but as a thriller, Next mostly succeeds. As in his book-to-movie bestsellers Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, Crichton creates suspense by pushing technological advances too far. The mosaic plot of Next includes a cast of, yes, thousands and a multitude of scary scenarios that combine to produce a grotesque whole. Under Crichton's imaginative scrutiny, body-part theft, the extinction of blonds and transgenic experiments that produce talking orangutans or parrots that can do first-grade math all loom on the horizon. Crichton keeps his yarn unspooling with a couple of cheap tricks (gratuitous sex scenes, cute kids in desperate peril), but there's plenty here for book clubs to discuss. And his explicit warning about unchecked scientific progress—"Contemporary laws do not recognize contemporary realities"—has a solid ring of truth.