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Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel



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    Station Eleven

    Emily St. John Mandel 9780385353304

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ISBN13: 9780060872984
ISBN10: 0060872985
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Author Q & A

Have you been tracking the science of genetics for the last 15 years, watching it, seeing what's going on, and building a portfolio?

Actually, you know it's odd, I was very interested in it at the time of Jurassic Park, which now to my astonishment, was 15 years ago. But then I lost track of it a bit, so to return is to have this odd sense of coming into a world where so many things that were fictional 15 years ago are now taking place.

Next challenges the reader's sense of what is happening, what is true and what is invented. How much of what's in the book has already taken place?

It's odd but nearly everything in the book has already happened, or is about to happen. The book does look to the future a bit, particularly with regard to some transgenic animals that become important characters. But for the most part Next is not really speculative fiction at all.

In the past you've said that you usually do research to answer a question of your own that interests you. What was the origin of Next?

This novel began when I attended a genetics conference at the Salk Institute in La Jolla. I learned just how fast the field was progressing, and how inappropriate certain legal positions were. The field obviously needed some broader attention from the public.

In terms of the novel, the question I asked was: what's the current view of how the genome operates — how you get from genotype to phenotype? Because such ideas have changed hugely in the last decades. Of course, this question is ultimately the old nature/nurture issue, and so it is politically charged. How much of our behavior is ruled by genes, and how much by upbringing and experience? I ultimately concluded I couldn't really address this question in the book, because it is so complex. But I arrived at answers for myself that surprised and satisfied me.

My answer is that genes are an integral part of our adaptive apparatus as organisms in an environment. So we find both heightened importance for nature and also for nurture. But the whole interaction is far more complicated than people thought fifty years ago. And it continues to change.

How do you stay informed about current and cutting-edge science? How much do you read? Are you actively involved in the scientific community?

There is no secret. I just read a lot. I don't talk to a lot of scientists. It's faster to read than talk.

In 2005, you appeared before the United States Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works to discuss the politicization of scientific research. What was your message? Why is this such a big problem and what is the solution?

Essentially I argued that what we need is a government policy that assures independently verified information in any area that is important to policy. This is the essence of the scientific method. There are well-established statistical procedures to make sure that the information you get is unbiased. It's simple enough to do, although expensive. But bad information is expensive, and bad policies are very expensive.

I argue that we live in a technological society where science matters, and it is up to the government to make sure that what we're told is accurate.

For this rather ordinary argument I was thoroughly attacked. There are many people out there who don't want their data to be checked.

What's so striking about all your books, and now Next in particular, is your ability to make complicated science comprehensible to a mass audience while also showcasing your tremendous expertise. How do you pull that off time after time?

Again, there's no secret. Making the story clear is accomplished by rewriting and rewriting until the technical passages are understandable. In any book, there are usually a few pages that I end up rewriting about twenty times.

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hari.inamadugu, October 23, 2006 (view all comments by hari.inamadugu)
i am eagerly waiting to get hold of this book.michael crichton is my favourite author.i read almost all of his novels.and i hope this one is also as good as his old novels.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060872984
Author:
Crichton, Michael
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
by Michael Crichton
Author:
Schreiber, Ellen
Author:
Suarez, Daniel
Subject:
General
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Genetics
Subject:
Technological
Subject:
Mutation (Biology)
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Suspense fiction
Subject:
General Juvenile Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Vampire Kisses
Publication Date:
November 28, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1.35 lb
Age Level:
from 12

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z

Next Used Hardcover
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Product details 448 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060872984 Reviews:
"Review" by , "It's tempting to stop and look up each of the genetic, legal and ethical aberrations described here in order to see how wild a strain of science fiction is afoot. Save a step. Just believe this: Oddity after oddity in Next checks out."
"Review" by , "If you didn't care for Crichton's last two techno-novels...it's time to kiss and make up. He's in top form."
"Review" by , "Next is a novel about the implications of genetic research...a subject that requires all of Crichton's ingenuity to be stuffed into 400 or so pages along with all the sex, violence and skulduggery that the genre demands."
"Review" by , "[T]he most unintentionally rib-tickling book Crichton has ever written....All we're left with are a few intriguing factoids and unintended comedy. Sometimes these coalesce in a gift bag of priceless bad writing. (Grade: C-)"
"Review" by , "The world according to Crichton is filled with enough scheming scientists to drive a dozen horror movies....But Crichton manages to bring these diverse elements together by novel's end."
"Review" by , "In his latest work of fiction, Mr. Crichton has embraced the subject of genetic technology, and the results are as entertaining as anything he has written since Jurassic Park."
"Review" by , "The book is in effect a collection of short horror stories from the biotechnology industry....Mr. Crichton cleverly subverts some stereotypes."
"Synopsis" by , In his brilliant new blockbuster, the New York Times bestselling author of Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain journeys into the realm of genetics: fast, furious and out of control. Provocative yet playful, dark and disturbing, Next is Crichton as he has never been seen before.
"Synopsis" by , Welcome to our genetic world. Fast, furious, and out of control. This is not the world of the future. It's the world right now.
"Synopsis" by ,
The New York Times bestselling author of Daemon and “heir to Michael Crichton” (Publishers Weekly) imagines a world in which decades of technological advancements have been suppressed—and are about to be unleashed— in a massive upheaval that could destroy the planet.

Is Facebook really humankinds most significant technological advance since the moon landing? Or can something more sinister explain the lack of major breakthroughs over the last forty years?

Particle physicist John Grady is ecstatic when his team finally achieves what its been working toward for years: technology that makes antigravity possible. It is Nobel Prize–caliber work, the crowning achievement of a career. He expects celebration. Instead, his lab is locked down by a secret government group. According to the Bureau of Technology Control, his discovery imperils the very existence of the human race.

Naturally, Grady asks why. Consequences, comes the answer: The world isnt ready for disruptive technologies and the unchecked population growth that would result. When he balks, the BTC throws Grady into a highly advanced prison built to hold the worlds most intelligent scientists. With so many geniuses shackled together, can they discover a way out of their island detention—and a way to usher our world out of its artificial dark age—without endangering the planet for generations to come?

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