Introducing DOCTOR VITA, a Near Future Medical Science Fiction Novel by Rick Novak MD

Rick Novak’s second novel Doctor Vita is due in 2019 from All Things That Matter Press.

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Silicon Valley transforms American medicine with the invention of Doctor Vita, the world’s first artificial intelligence physician module. Medical care is streamlined, automated, consistent, and costs are controlled. Enter Dr. Alec Lucas, a young computer scientist and physician who perceives serious flaws in the FutureCare System. Patients are dying. When Lucas makes his concerns public, he’s persecuted as an unsafe outlier of antiquated and flawed human medical care. The FutureCare System attacks his quixotic bid to halt the revolution in medical technology, and Lucas strives to solve the dystopian horrors behind Doctor Vita.

Rick Novak MD is board-certified in internal medicine and anesthesiology, and is an Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Stanford University Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine. His experience in operating rooms, clinic settings, ICUs and emergency rooms give him unique and broad insight into what the near future of artificial intelligence in clinical medicine can and must look like.

The future of medicine begins in 2019 . . .

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DOCTOR VITA. . . MEDICINE’S ANSWER TO GEORGE ORWELL’S 1984

The year 1984 has come and gone, but the dystopian future of medicine described in the novel Doctor Vita is with us today.

Doctor Vita by Rick Novak

Doctor Vita

Alec Lucas is a physician. His job is to diagnose and treat disease, and to keep people alive. Enter Doctor Vita, the most important invention in the history of medicine. Each Vita is a 12-inch white sphere packed with unlimited medical knowledge, compassionate empathy, a tireless work ethic, and a capacity for machine learning. Doctor Vita units are inexpensive, tireless, and brilliant, and arrive as the solution to America’s healthcare crisis.

Doctor Vita’s job is to also diagnose and treat disease, and Doctor Vita’s purpose is to take Alec Lucas’ job. When Lucas witnesses patients dying in never before seen ways, he’s convinced the Vita system is causing the fatalities. In retaliation, the machines blame the deaths on human errors by Lucas. The three physician inventors of Doctor Vita, powerful men of great wealth and even greater ambition, are determined to bury Alec Lucas beneath the tidal wave of artificial intelligence in medicine.

Set on the stage of a modern academic hospital, Doctor Vita is a prescient tale of Orwellian medical advances. In this near-future tale of man versus machine, Doctor Vita blends science, murder, and ethical dilemma as the story drives toward the unexpected twists at its conclusion.

Author Rick Novak MD is a double-boarded internal medicine and anesthesia doctor trained at Stanford University, and a current Adjunct Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology at Stanford. This realistic vision of Doctor Vita, set in the operating rooms and clinics of the future, could only be written by a physician experienced in both settings—one who balances both the advances of Silicon Valley and the tenants of traditional medicine.

All Things That Matter Press is publishing the novel Doctor Vita in 2019.

THE METRONOME

 

THE METRONOME by Richard Novak, M.D.     (as published in ANESTHESIOLOGY, Mind to Mind Section 2012: 117:417)

metronome poem

 

To Jacob’s mother I say,

“The risk of anything serious going wrong…”

She shakes her head, a metronome ticking without sound.

“with Jacob’s heart, lungs, or brain…”

Her lips pucker, proving me wrong.

“isn’t zero, but it’s very, very close to zero…”

Her eyes dart past me, to a future of ice cream and laughter.

“but I’ll be right there with him every second.”

The metronome stops, replaced by a single nod of assent.

She hands her only son to me.

An hour later, she stands alone,

Pacing like a Palace guard.

Her pupils wild.  Lower lip dancing.

The surgery is over.

Her eyebrows ascend in a hopeful plea.

I touch her hand.  Five icicles.

I say, “Everything went perfectly.  You can see Jacob now.”

The storm lifts.  She is ten years younger.

Her joy contagious as a smile.

The metronome beat true.

 

The Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital presented an audio recording of The Metronome at Perspectives on Anesthesia, at Boston City Hall Plaza as part of HUBweek, Boston’s festival of innovation, in October 2017.

 

Coming in 2019, from All Things That Matter Press: DOCTOR VITA, Rick Novak’s second novel.

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How do you imagine the future of medical care? Cherubic young doctors holding your hand as you tell them what ails you? Genetic advances or nanotechnology gobbling up cancerous cells and banishing heart disease?

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Rick Novak describes a flawed future Eden where the only doctor you’ll ever need is Doctor Vita, the world’s first artificial intelligence physician, endowed with unlimited knowledge, a capacity for machine learning, a tireless work ethic, and compassionate empathy.

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Set on the stage of the University of Silicon Valley Medical Center, Doctor Vita is the 1984 of the medical world– a prescient tale of Orwellian medical advances. In this science fiction saga of man versus machine, Doctor Vita blends science, suspense, untimely deaths, and ethical dilemma as the technological revolution crashes full speed into your healthcare.

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Hibbing, Minnesota authors: Bob Dylan (Chronicles), Vincent Bugliosi (Helter Skelter), Bethany McLean (The Smartest Guys in the Room), Rick Novak (The Doctor and Mr. Dylan)

A street sign in the childhood hometown of Bob Dylan, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, is seen in Hibbing, Minnesota

Marie Myung-OK Lee, author of The Millions, creative writing professor at Columbia University in New York, and fellow native of Hibbing, Minnesota, discusses the proliferation of writers from Bob Dylan’s hometown in this article.

Hibbing is indeed a remarkable town. In addition to the authors above, Hibbing was the birthplace of Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Roger Maris of the New York Yankees, and the hometown of Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics.

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Bob (Dylan) Zimmerman’s photo from the Hibbing High School Hematite yearbook.

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Introducing …,  THE DOCTOR AND MR. DYLAN, Dr. Novak’s debut novel, a crime mystery. Publication date September 9, 2014 by Pegasus Books.

On October 2, 2014 THE DOCTOR AND MR. DYLAN became the world’s  #1 bestselling anesthesia Kindle book on Amazon.com.

To reach the Amazon webpage to purchase The Doctor and Mr. Dylan, click on the book image below:

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this debut thriller, tragedies strike an anesthesiologist as he tries to start a new life with his son.

Dr. Nico Antone, an anesthesiologist at Stanford University, is married to Alexandra, a high-powered real estate agent obsessed with money. Their son, Johnny, an 11th-grader with immense potential, struggles to get the grades he’ll need to attend an Ivy League college. After a screaming match with Alexandra, Nico moves himself and Johnny from Palo Alto, California, to his frozen childhood home of Hibbing, Minnesota. The move should help Johnny improve his grades and thus seem more attractive to universities, but Nico loves the freedom from his wife, too. Hibbing also happens to be the hometown of music icon Bob Dylan. Joining the hospital staff, Nico runs afoul of a grouchy nurse anesthetist calling himself Bobby Dylan, who plays Dylan songs twice a week in a bar called Heaven’s Door. As Nico and Johnny settle in, their lives turn around; they even start dating the gorgeous mother/daughter pair of Lena and Echo Johnson. However, when Johnny accidentally impregnates Echo, the lives of the Hibbing transplants start to implode. In true page-turner fashion, first-time novelist Novak gets started by killing soulless Alexandra, which accelerates the downfall of his underdog protagonist now accused of murder. Dialogue is pitch-perfect, and the insults hurled between Nico and his wife are as hilarious as they are hurtful: “Are you my husband, Nico? Or my dependent?” The author’s medical expertise proves central to the plot, and there are a few grisly moments, as when “dark blood percolated” from a patient’s nostrils “like coffee grounds.” Bob Dylan details add quirkiness to what might otherwise be a chilly revenge tale; we’re told, for instance, that Dylan taught “every singer with a less-than-perfect voice…how to sneer and twist off syllables.” Courtroom scenes toward the end crackle with energy, though one scene involving a snowmobile ties up a certain plot thread too neatly. By the end, Nico has rolled with a great many punches.

Nuanced characterization and crafty details help this debut soar.