Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton

Writer Michael Crichton died yesterday, he was sixty-six.

Crichton, who trained as a medical doctor, wrote a slew of bestselling novels, and was the creator of the TV series ER. If you've been to a movie in the last forty years, you almost surely saw one of his stories: The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, The Lost World, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Terminal Man, Congo, Twister ...

His fiction books tended to be reworking of old science fiction themes muchly slicked-up and full of high tech. The mutant alien bug let loose, the robots gone amok, the Frankenstein concept, these were staples in the genre and many hardcore SF&F fans looked at Crichton's use of them as old hat. But he brushed them up and presented them to a mainstream audience who didn't know they were cliches, and he did all right.

For my money, his best book was non-fiction, Five Patients, written early in his career, about his medical training. There is a bit in it wherein young Crichton is sitting in a lecture hall listening to an anatomy professor speak on male reproductive organs that is memorable enough that it has stayed with me since I read it in 1970.

He was a very tall man -- 6'9" (206 cm), and a couple of his pseudonyms were plays on his height -- one was German for "tall man," the other was taken from a notable dwarf.


Bobbe Edmonds said...

No...Man, this is hard to take for me. There are very few of his books I wasn't a fan of, and I grew up on The Andromeda Strain.

Another of the greats has left us.

Jay said...

I would echo Bobbe's comments on Andromeda - that was classic.

Jonathan said...

I was nine-years-old when I picked up Jurassic Park and was never the same. The same year, I read through Congo and The Terminal Man. While some of it undoubtedly went above my nine-year-old head, it was the transition from the Dr. Seuss type books right into something that challenged me and really helped expand my young mind.

Now at twenty-two, I tend to lean towards more character-driven novels rather than plot-driven, but I'll forever be grateful to Michael Crichton for capturing that young boy's imagination.