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I finished the book over the weekend. As a novel, it was okay. The bad guys got their comeuppance in the end; well, at least some of them did. But the world continues to spin, and the underlying problems that drove the novel's plot aren't really solved, and indeed appear to likely be insoluble.

In the author's notes at the end, Michael Crichton lists his five conclusions:

1. Stop patenting genes. He says that there is plenty of evidence that this is "unnecessary, unwise, and harmful." He mentions that it is bad public policy that hurts patient care and suppresses research.

2. Establish clear guidelines for the use of human tissues. There is insufficient legislation regarding the ownership of tissues donated for research purposes, which may harm the rights of patients.

3. Pass laws to ensure that data about gene testing is made public. Currently, the FDA cannot publish adverse results from gene therapy trials, allowing researchers to suppress information about patient deaths, claiming that such deaths are a trade secret.

4. Avoid bans on research. Banning research doesn't work; it just drives it underground and prevents proper oversight.

5. Rescind the Bayh-Dole Act. "In 1980, Congress decided that the discoveries made within universities were not being made widely available, to benefit the public. To move things along, it passed a law permitting university researchers to sell their discoveries for their own profit, even when that research had been funded by taxpayer money."

This has resulted in most science professors having corporate ties, which has paradoxically resulted in universities becoming more commercially focused. Crichton argues that this may benefit the universities and the corporations, but it doesn't benefit the public which underwrites much of the costs of the university system.

I won't write any spoilers about the plot, since you might want to read the book yourself. I will say that the ideas behind the novel are thought-provoking and disturbing. And that the scariest sentence in the book is the one-sentence preface:

"This novel is fiction, except for the parts that aren't."