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Literature / Next

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NeXT is a 2006 novel, Michael Crichton's final published novel in his lifetime. The plot intertwines several different stories. There are two main story arcs: that of a family trying to raise a transgenic Half-Human Hybrid in secret and that of a family who're being hunted down for "illegal theft" of their cancer-resistant genes. Sub-plots include an incredibly intelligent parrot, a pedophile working security for a genetics firm who is promptly framed for rape and is convinced by his lawyer to use genetics to excuse his behavior, a delusional hippie, a foul-mouthed orangutan, and the media hype surrounding it, a baby rapist with a small penis (who just happens to have the same name as Crichton's real-life critic) and a pair of bounty hunters hunting down said family.


The book is entertaining and very informative, as Crichton is known for heavy amounts of research, but also basically Crichton yelling at the mainstream news for Failing Biology Forever.

Not to be confused with the 2007 Nicolas Cage movie of the same name.

In 2020 it was made into a TV series airing on Fox.

Contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: The resolution as to whether bodybuilding heart attack victim John Weller was a Chimera (someone with two sets of DNA) and therefore whether or not Lisa was actually his daughter, never occurs in favor of implying that he was poisoned by his wife and an intern's twin mixing up samples while stealing leg bones.
  • Acquired Error at the Printer: At one point Dave, a transgenic higher primate, is accidentally called a transgender higher primate by the narration.
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  • Asshole Victim: Dr. Robert Bellarmino.
  • Author Tract: There's an actual appendix outlining Crichton's views on the subject of genetic engineering and the laws about it.
  • Better To Die than Be Arrested: The Bounty Hunter's first in-story target opts to suffocate himself with nitrogen before allowing himself to be taken in.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Alex for pointing a sawed-off shotgun at her son's kidnapper. Also Jack Watson, for taking down an Evil Corporation.
  • Batman Gambit: Jack Watson, a venture capitalist who had a compromised BioGen lab tech (his nephew) sabotage their research to drive down its stock price prior to purchasing it, forcing Diehl into sending bounty hunters to kidnap a family to procure more samples of cancer-resistant genes (which he believed were his property), destroying his reputation. Also buys gene patent that nullified research from Duke University. And sends his nephew somewhere he knows Bellarmino will be, thus eliminating both at once.
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  • Big Bad: A downplayed case with Rick Diehl - whilst he's the antagonist in the Burnet's storyline, for the most part, he's a Villainy-Free Villain and an Unwitting Pawn for Watson's planned takeover of his company.
  • French Jerk: The talking orangutan curses in French and Dutch, greatly annoying a French tourist who tried to speak with it.
  • Good All Along: Watson is implied to have supported the Burnet's the whole time, since he sent someone that helped Frank go into hiding.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Dave and Gerard.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Continuing the trend started in State of Fear, there is a sex scene (albeit undetailed) in the beginning when a High-Class Call Girl serving as a delivery woman for genes spends a night with the recipient (a fat virginal slob of a scientist) and a gratuitous sex scene featuring woman who normally does not feel pleasure having an orgasm.
  • Ironic Death: Jack Watson had destroyed the cancer resistant cells, but dies of a (fictional) strain of cancer the company might have been able to treat if not for the sabotage.
  • Loophole Abuse: A key plot element. Current biotech laws are vague enough that a lower court rules that BioGen owns not only the cancer-reistant genes they purchased from a university, but also the rights to the donor's entire cell line - AKA him and his children. An appellate court pretty much crucifies Diehl for attempting to re-institute slavery.
  • Media Scaremongering: Many of the "news report" chapters exist to criticize this kind of news reporting.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. The two main female characters, who are close friends, both have eight-year-old sons named Jamie. So when bounty hunters attempt to abduct one of them, they wind up taking the wrong Jamie, which results in them giving up on the entire bounty.
  • Out-Gambitted: To get rid of Brad Gordon, Watson's nephew (and nepotism-appointed head of security) for both being a poor employee and sleeping with Rick's secretary/mistress Lisa, Rick Diehl, knowing of his paedophillic tendencies, frames him for statutory rape. This backfires spectacularly - setting off a chain of events that leads to Watson successfully outing him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Gordon, Watson's nephew using genes as a defense for a rape Diehl framed him for, falls victim to this. He's about to re-ride a roller coaster (so he can watch a couple young girls who are riding it) when Bellarmino comes up to him and says something about not getting many "adult repeaters". He's talking about repeating the roller coaster, but Gordon thinks he means "repeat child molesters" and shoots him. He is gunned down soon after by some police officers/security guards.
  • Four Lines, No Waiting: Aside from minor stories focusing on politicians or random observers, the four narrative lines of Dave, the Parrot, the bounty hunter, and a pedophile using genes as a defense often intertwine.
  • Take That!: The journalist that Alex mentions prosecuting near the third act? The one that raped his two-year-old nephew and has a "small penis"? The one that's never mentioned again and has zero relevance to the plot? He just happens to share the name, college and occupation of a reviewer who was particularly critical of Crichton's previous novel State of Fear.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Diehl has skilled enough lawyers (and current biotech laws are vague enough) that he actually gets a state court to give him legal permission for this.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Subverted.
    "This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren't."
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Like woah. First off, Dave's subplot is really sad (he's the transgenic half-human, half-chimpanzee). Second off, a gene-engineered parrot saves a family on the run from a bounty hunter by faking shotgun noises.