Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton

good morning

well, just how does one write something suitable to mark the passing of one of the finest writers of our era?

i was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Crichton last night. his novels have been some of the most entertaining and enjoyable i have had the pleasure to read, and the film versions of some of his books have become classics of cinema.

if you haven't read any of his fine works, well, time for you to visit the library or bookstore! in the mean time, i think i will hand over to the BBC's obituary for this great man.

The late Michael Crichton's works of futuristic fiction made him one of the world's most successful novelists.

He was also one of the richest, having thrilled millions with such prescient works as Westworld, The Terminal Man and The Andromeda Strain.

In the 1990s he simultaneously had America's number one movie (Jurassic Park), its number one bestseller (Disclosure) and its top TV series (ER).

But his reputation suffered in 2005 when he was rebuked by the US Congress for his scepticism over climate change.

Born in Chicago in 1942, Crichton was the eldest of four children. The son of a journalist, he always saw writing as a normal occupation.

"I liked writing so much," he would later recall. "I was tall and gangly and awkward and I needed to escape, I guess."

Crichton's first bestseller, The Andromeda Strain, was published in 1969 while he was a medical student at Harvard.

The book, about a deadly alien virus that threatens to wipe out life on Earth, became the first of his works to be filmed.

A trip to Disneyland inspired him to write and direct the 1973 film Westworld, in which robots at an amusement park run wild.

His involvement with Hollywood continued with the 1978 thriller Coma, about a hospital that kills its patients in order to harvest their organs.

Crichton's novels often dramatised the conflict between science and nature, addressing such hot-button topics as DNA manipulation, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

Jurassic Park, about genetically engineered dinosaurs turning on their creators, was published to huge acclaim in 1990 and spawned a blockbuster film three years later.

But he would also draw on real life, using his own experiences to inform the long-running medical drama ER and basing Disclosure on an actual case of male sexual harassment.

Divorced four times, he made headlines in 2002 when he was tied up and robbed at gunpoint at his home in Santa Monica, California.

He did so again in 2004 when his novel, State of Fear, suggested that global warming was a fallacy dreamt up by environmental activists.

When working on a project, Crichton maintained his concentration by always eating the same meal for lunch.

He also had a taste for the ghoulish, beginning his 1988 memoir Travels with the legend: "It's not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw."

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