Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Scratch One More

Well, this teaches me to never step away from my computer for even a nanosecond. I took myself out to breakfast this morning, in celebration of Barack Obama’s historic election yesterday as the 44th president of the United States, and when I returned, I found a note from Rap Sheet correspondent Ali Karim, telling me that author Michael Crichton has died. From The Hollywood Reporter:
Michael Crichton--whose books were made into films including “Jurassic Park” and “The Andromeda Strain”--died Tuesday. He was 66.

The author died “after a courageous and private battle against cancer,” according to his Web site. A statement on said Crichton died “unexpectedly” in Los Angeles.

Crichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of “Andromeda” or dinosaurs running amok in “Jurassic Park,” one of his many books that spawned major Hollywood movies.

Crichton also was a screenwriter and filmmaker, earning producing and writing credits for the film versions of many of his titles. He also created the NBC hospital drama “ER” in 1994.
In addition to his best-known novels, Crichton penned several works of crime fiction under the pseudonym “John Lange.” Two of those books have been republished within the last couple of years by Hard Case Crime--Zero Cool (1969) and Grave Descend (1970)--but his first Lange novel was in fact Odds On (1966).

Still, I remember Crichton best for his historical thriller, The Great Train Robbery (1975), which fictionalized--with style, wit, and humor--England’s notorious Great Gold Robbery of 1855. I read that book when it came out in paperback, and was entirely consumed by its story and characters. I’ve re-read it once since, and still find it a marvel of plot development, tension, and historical re-creation. A film was made from the book in 1979, starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, but the novel far outshines its cinematic adaptation. Go find a copy. Right now.

READ MORE:Michael Crichton Dies at 66,” by Hillel Italie (AP); “R.I.P., Michael Crichton,” by Sarah Weinman (Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind); “Builder of Windup Realms That Thrillingly Run Amok,” by Charles McGrath (The New York Times); “Michael Crichton, R.I.P.,” by Duane Swierczynski (Secret Dead Blog); “Remembering Michael Crichton,” by Michael Berry (San Francisco Chronicle); “The Admirable Mr. Crichton,” by Ali Karim (The Rap Sheet).


Ali Karim said...

This is just terrible news, really terrible news. I have followed Mr Crichton's work for many years and even have a UK first edition of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN - a book that got me excited about science. In fact Crichton was one of the reasons that I studied science. He influenced the direction of my life.

I never got to meet him, and now curse at missing him last time he was in London when he came over to promote STATE OF FEAR. I had been invited by HarperCollins to a reception after a signing in the West End. Unfortunatley there was a major clash in my diary as Crichton was over only for the weekend. I had to miss the event, and now I will never have the chance to tell him how important his work was to me.

I also wanted to tell him this story.

There had been a gap in Crichton's publishing - due his movie work, then in either 1989 or 1990 my wife had a friend over the weekend and wanted me to take them to a huge mall that had opened in the area for a days shopping.

I cursed as I hated shopping, but on entry to the mall, I noticed a bookshop 'Dillons' and in a big window display was a stack of 'JURASSIC PARK' by Michael Crichton. I got so excited and bought the book and told my wife and her friend to take their time shopping as I was going back to the car to read. They laughed at my excitement as I was raving - A NEW MICHAEL CRICHTON NOVEL I roared running back to the car.

Anyway, 6 hours later my wife and friend came back to the car loaded with the clothes they bought. I was on the last chapter and told them to please get a coffee while I finshed my book.

When they returned, my wife sensed my excitement. I was raving that one of my favourite writers, and a main reason why I studied science at university had written the most amazing book. She asked me what it was about - when I told her the plot about the genetic cloning of dinosaurs, she replied in a statement that I often replay at dinner parties -

"Ali, that sounds such a stupid idea, you read such rubbish, that will never sell, in fact that's why your own writing is always rejected, you read and write such uncommercial tripe. What a stupid idea, genetic cloning of dinosaurs indeed, I expect to see the book in remainder bins within a month....."

The rest they say is history

Mr Crichton, a salute you.

Your books, screenplays, films and of course your hieght made you a special man - You stood as tall in your writing as you did in your stature.

You will be missed by many, but from this scientist - you changed my life.


Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

And so young by today's standards - a major talent lost but a great body of work remains.