Thursday, January 14
NEXT is what ??
Un-putdownable!!Yeah, i am talking about Micheal Chrichton's NEXT. I have always been a huge fan of Chichton's writing. I inadvertently purchased Congo 2 decades back (yeah,i am ancient!!) and discovered a superb author. Jurassic parks of the world have catapulted him into almost a Cult-author.Crichton passed away in 2008 and two more books have been published posthumously.We have indeed lost a wonderful author..
Ok,back to business... NEXT doesn't read like a normal novel. It felt more like reading about a bunch of startling issues and events related to genetics..Talking chimps,Transgenic apes, Bio-advertising, Gene re-engineering.. the list is endless..After a point,the narrative gets so absorbing that one finds it difficult to draw a line between fact and fiction.
Reviewing the plot wouldn't make sense as the narrative is interspersed with news clippings and research studies.I am amazed at how Crichton has broken down complicated aspects of laws pertaining to Gene patenting and woven it with a racy narrative. There is an elaborate author's note at the end of the book detailing his views on what is wrong with several things concerning genetics...mentioning just 2 of them which i thought were freaky!!
1.Gene Patenting: Currently, i believe the US laws allow patents on chunks of genes.These patents are predominantly owned by universities and corporates.Chrichton says that patents on more than half the genome and most diseases are owned by corporations.How can any company own a disease??.And because these corporations own patent on genes,it makes it very expensive for other researchers to work on these diseases and hence push up the cost of treating the disease.Corporotisation of researchers is a scary trend!.
2. Use of Human tissues- Chrichton cites several cases where blood samples given to universities for testing & research purposes have been misused and genes derived from the blood have been used to develop cell lines. These cell lines are sold to pharma companies for billions of dollars.Later,these corporation turn on their heels and insist that they own the cell line and hence own the cells of the donor. In effect,this means that a man does not have right over his own body ,but a corporation does because it has a patent on the cells derived from the body.
Several other startling incidents like the emergence of a new breed of artists who work with bodily materials for creating art has been broached by the author.For example,Berlusconi's fat (Italian PM ) which was liposuctioned at a clinic was made into a soap and auctioned for 18,000$ and was considered a work of art. yes this is real !!.. you can google it !.Since,gene recombinant kits are available online for several hundred dollars,almost anyone has been able to create transgenic species.. This is a scary thought !.As much as scientific progress is necessary,the sanctity of life is necessary lest we end up with rabbits with spikes and elephants with an exoskeletons!.
Do read the book for more.. !! Highly recommended!!