Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Tribute to Michael Crichton


It's been a tough few weeks for fiction. We've recently lost some of our greats, including Tony Hillerman, Elaine Flinn, and yesterday, Michael Crichton.

While I had never had the privilege of meeting Crichton, when I opened my Yahoo page and saw his obituary, I experienced the sort of shock you normally feel when you've lost an acquaintance.

May of 1993. I had just finished writing my senior thesis, a series of short stories based on my Grandfather's WWI diaries. I actually finished the book a few days early, shockingly enough (and, as my editor would assure you, not at all true to form). Connecticut was in the full throes of spring, and on a warm, sunny day I brought a copy of Jurassic Park onto the lawn in front of the library and dove in. I generally didn't read thrillers, but the back cover copy had lured me with the promise of a complete escape from the tomes I'd been struggling with for eight semesters.
And I was completely swept away. That book was such a breath of fresh air, I was riveted. What a genius concept: a theme park, with real dinosaurs created from ancient DNA preserved in amber. It hooked me, and from then on I was a devout thriller fan.

Despite the fact that I didn't agree with all of his political stances, you have
to admire a man who never shied away from hot button issues. And Crichton undeniably possessed the Midas touch, prior to JK Rowling storming on to the scene he was the most successful author in the world. It can be argued that he not only revitalized the techno-thriller, paving the way for the success of Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, and James Rollins, but he also made medical dramas sexy again with ER. In addition to his novels, he collaborated on screenplays for films like "Twister." He was remarkably prolific, once claiming to churn out 10,000 words a day. As someone who considers herself fortunate to clock 10,000 words in a week, that's simply staggering.
Not to mention the fact that he was once chosen as one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People, a title that few writers have possessed (shall we call it the "paper ceiling?")
A remarkable writer, and a remarkable person. He will be missed.

6 comments:

  1. I have to say, Crichton was one of my influences. I loved his early stuff, especially. I didn't know much about Tony Hillerman or Elaine Flinn, but Michael Crichton is another story. I will miss him.

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  2. I read Jurassic Park and believed dinosaurs could be cloned. I read Timeline and believed time travel was possible. I read State of Fear and believed Global Warming was a myth. I read Prey and found one of the scariest books ever. Time after time Crichton sucked me in and made me believe. Boy, could he research and entertain. He was an original. I’ll miss him.

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  3. Michael Crichton's books remain among my favorite thrillers. I'm so sorry to hear about his passing. He'll be sorely missed.

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  4. Even though I have only read a few of his books - Jurassic Park I loved, Timeline not so much - he was a master at sucking the reader in. No matter whether you liked the book or not you had to finish it to find out what happened! You have to admire that immensely.

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  5. When I saw the news I was so sad. I remember picking up Jurassic Park and being instantly enthralled. Before Crichton I thought all science fiction was spaceships and alien planets. Timeline is still my favorite, the movie wasn't even close to the book.

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  6. "Eaters of the Dead" and "The Andromeda Strain" will always be two of my favorite books, even though I frequently forget to list them. And I learned a little bit about chaos theory because of "Jurassic Park". He accomplished much in a short period of time.

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