Michael Crichton, prolific author and director, died Tuesday. He was only 66. CNN reports:
Crichton died unexpectedly Tuesday “after a courageous and private battle against cancer”
Crichton, who was also a doctor, is probably best known for the Jurassic Park movies and but was also the creator of the incredibly successful television series ER (in all fairness we cannot blame Crichton for the rise of George Clooney or the resulting smug cloud). Michael Crichton wrote his first book, The Andromeda Strain, when he was still a medical student at Harvard and went on to write a string of interesting books including The Terminal Man, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, Jurassic Park, and Congo (the last one complete with skull-crushing primates).
Though my reading ratio of history-to-fiction has tilted more and more over the years to the non-fiction side, I did read the majority of Crichton’s books before they became movies and thoroughly enjoyed the bulk of them. This was during a time when too many novels were just disappointing airport bookstore books that all too often were cut from a couple of basic templates. They either tried to replicate a Tom Clancy book or they involved an unsettling fascination with increasingly disturbing fictional serial killers. I got completely sick of that crazy killer template a long time before the public apparently did. In contrast, at least for a techie like me, Crichton seemed to dig more deeply into current and emerging science and technology and the result was quite often a lot more readable and enjoyable.
Crichton did not shy away from controversy and I remember reading Rising Sun at a time when many Americans worried that the Japanese were going to own America (no, not the Chinese, the Japanese!). Certainly his most controversial book, State of Fear, expressed the author’s personal doubts about the consenus of opinion on anthropogenic global warming. But whether you liked all or only some of his books, Michael Crichton left a dent and will be missed.