Crichton, who helped create the TV show "ER" and wrote the best-sellers "Jurassic Park," "The Andromeda Strain," "Sphere" and "Rising Sun," has died in Los Angeles, his public relations firm said in a news release. Crichton died unexpectedly Tuesday "after a courageous and private battle against cancer," the release said. He was 66.
Crichton also invited controversy with some of his scientific views. He was an avowed skeptic of global climate change, giving lectures warning against "consensus science." He later took on global warming and the theories surrounding it in his 2004 novel, "State of Fear," which attracted attacks in its own right from scientists, including NASA climatologist James Hansen. Crichton was a distinctive figure in the entertainment business, a trained physician whose interests included writing, film making and television. (He was physically distinctive as well, standing 6 feet 9 inches.)
He published "The Andromeda Strain" while he was still a medical student at Harvard Medical School. He wrote a story about a 19th-century train robbery, called "The Great Train Robbery," and then directed the 1979 film version. He also directed several other films, including "Westworld" (1973), "Coma" (1978), "Looker" (1981) and "Runaway" (1984).
In 1993, while working on the film version of "Jurassic Park" with Steven Spielberg, he teamed with the director to create "ER." The NBC series set in a Chicago emergency room debuted in 1994 and became a huge hit, making a star of George Clooney. Crichton originally wrote the script for the pilot in 1974.
"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park,' " said Spielberg, a friend of Crichton's for 40 years, according to The Associated Press. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. ... Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place."
Crichton was "an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful," "ER" executive producer John Wells told the AP. "No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation."
Though most of Crichton's books were major best-sellers involving science, he could ruffle feathers when he took on social issues. "Rising Sun" (1992) came out during a time when Americans feared Japanese ascendance, particularly when it came to technology. Disclosure" (1994) was about a sexual harassment case.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
One of my favorite authors passed away this week and I am extremely saddened by this. I have read all of Michael Crichton's novels. I got introduced to him at a time when James Hadley Chase books were my definition of a "novel". His precise, tight, technical-type fast paced narration style quickly made me a fan. While on a trip to Ooty many years ago I read my first ever Michael Crichton novel - Andromeda Strain. I enjoyed it so much that I stayed in my hotel room and read the book while my parents went around Ooty. I don't think I have followed any other author's works as much as I followed Crichton's. I couldn't but admire him when he coolly commented that Jurassic Park the movie did not match the standards of his novel.
Although Airframe, Prey, Timeline, State Of Fear and Next weren't up to his high standards they were immensely entertaining and he was taking direct digs at popular thought/opinions (which was the reason he became my favorite author). I will forever be in awe of the small nuances he brings to his narration techniques, his peculiar and effective use of italics, his construction of chapters and the choice of topics.