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T O P I C    R E V I E W
specfiction Posted - 11/30/2007 : 16:22:12
Next by Michael Crichton

I’m about half way through Next, by Michael Crichton, and I don’t know if I can finish the book. My attention keeps waning as I ask myself, “What’s happened to Michael Crichton?” I’ve read and enjoyed most of his books, but ever since Prey, his “stories” have taken a turn for the weird. Prey started out sort-of okay, but quickly degenerated into something that reminded me of Dean R Koontz. But State of Fear, and now Next, are something completely different. They seem like thinly-veiled essays aimed at persuading the reader that: the government is bad, the media is bad, and science is bad. These are not really stories, they’re more like commercials where, instead of an actor drinking from a can of Coke, always making sure that the audience can see the name, there is a constant drone of propaganda, peppered with topical icons, trying to persuade the reader to a particular, political point-of-view. And that point of view “seems” to be paranoid libertarian.

In Next, Michael Crichton has an excess of news-reel-like commercials in the middle of the “story” that leaves nothing to chance in terms of what the reader is supposed to think. Both State of Fear and Next remind me of Reefer Madness. Now, it’s not inappropriate for a story to have a point of view, but an author as skilled as Michael Crichton should be able to present us with a story, not a commercial. One wonders why he doesn’t just write an op-ed or essay in some magazine. The only thing I can think of is that he knows there’s more money in a novel, especially if he can exploit the name he’s established by his prior good works.


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