Michael Crichton, Farewell

  By Shamus   Nov 5, 2008   44 comments

Michael Crichton, creator of Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park and ER, has died at 66.

So long Crichton, thanks for all the great yarns. Especially that dinosaur thing.

20204Feeling chatty? There are 44 comments.


  1. Matt K says:

    That’s unexpected. He wrote so really awesome books that had a nice bit of actual science in them (and Rising Son was both an awesome book and movie). It’s kind of funny that he dies the year ER comes to an end.

  2. I pray at his funeral that they trick a doctor into getting eaten by a T-rex.

  3. DocTwisted says:

    A good suspense writer gone. I remember Jurassic Park being one of those books that I couldn’t put down… actually stayed up and read it through in one night.

  4. Clint says:

    If you haven’t seen it yet, his speech “Aliens Cause Global Warming” is well worth reading. The official Crichton site version appears to be down, but there’s a mirror of it at:

    http://www.s8int.com/crichton.html

    Clint

  5. IronCastKnight says:

    Michael Crichton noooo! Come back to us Crichton, and let Tom Clancy go in your stead!

    Sigh, I’m going to miss the guy and his iffy books, which rarely failed to amuse me, which is more than I can say for most authors.

  6. balrog62 says:

    Wow….that was a surprise. I remember discovering him when I was in college and found a book “Eaters of the Dead” at a used book store. I’ve read a lot of his stuff since. Gonna miss him.

  7. Dev Null says:

    Not to speak ill of the dead, but I still haven’t forgiven him for Timeline.

    Still, best wishes to his family and friends.

  8. Carra says:

    Ugh, read most of his books.

    Too sad I’ll never read a new book again :(

  9. Kevin says:

    That’s kinda young. Cancer sucks.

  10. Chris says:

    And so one of the reasons I read as avidly as I do is dead. I started on Jurassic Park around third or fourth grade, and quickly moved to Lost World and Sphere after. He basically pulled me out of books for “my age” and into deeper readings.

    I don’t read much of his stuff anymore, but I mean, damn. He was good at what he did, and I’m honestly really sad to see him go.

    Today is a sad day.

  11. RPharazon says:

    I liked his Jurassic Park books, but not so much his more recent books. The recent books have a tendency to spiral into sheer madness.

  12. Derek K. says:

    He wrote entertaining books. Not works of art, or life changing guides, but entertaining books.

    And really, that’s about the best thing I can say about any author.

  13. Smileyfax says:

    Ah, I’ll miss him. I really liked Monkeys Will Kill Us All and Dinosaurs Will Kill Us All, but he hadn’t written anything good since Dinosaurs Will Kill Us All 2. I haven’t read Space Germs Will Kill Us All, but I really liked the (old) movie. And Nanobots Will Kill Us All was just craaaaaap.

  14. Kevin says:

    I got started on Andromeda Strain and Congo in about the 8th grade…1984 time era. Truly a good story teller.

    I know he was affiliated with ER at some (high) level.

    *sigh* Maybe I’ll go back and read Congo again…it’ll only be about the 4th time.

  15. Spam Vader says:

    I’ve said it once today and I’ll say it again: CRAP. They better publish his last book so I can finally learn if Next was an isolated incidence of bad.

  16. briatx says:

    I’m afraid I’ll always remember Crichton for his bizarre attempt to attack Mike Crowley in Next.

    Crowley’s response was pretty great.

  17. Goodson says:

    Actually, Timeline the book was great. Probably one of the few fiction books about the middle ages to get stuff right. The movie, however, was ass.

  18. Matt K says:

    Great Train Robbery was probably my favorite of his. However Rising Sun was such a great movie and book that I think in total it was my favorite. He had a pretty good run though. I mean not too many authors can have bestselling books (which were uniformly good) with such different subject matter (sci-fi to crime thriller to sexual harassment to medical drama). His later books weren’t as good but I did like Airframe and Timeline. Prey and Next though didn’t look all that interesting to me.

  19. Dev Null says:

    To each their own Goodson; twas the book I disliked – never saw the movie. Though one of my biggest problems with the book was the fact that it was rather obviously a vehicle for selling the screenplay. Lots of elements to it that served no purpose in the novel but would have made pretty special effects, or arguably helped the pacing by breaking up the action.

    [deleted a bunch of other commentary as not actually relevant to Shamus’ post. Once upon a time I blogged my opinions about Timeline here if you really care…]

  20. gyfrmbrd says:

    Entertaining writer or not, 66 is simply no age to die… bummer.

  21. empty_other says:

    Timeline was awesome. And later i was pleasantly surprised to find the movie quite good as well. Btw, this is not a fanboy’s rambling, as my friends (who would never bother reading these kind of books) also found it enjoyable.

    Jurassic Park; awesome movies, but the books was better.

  22. Arthur says:

    It’s fine, they’ll just use a sample of his DNA to clone him and it’s all good.

    Just so long as they don’t use frog DNA to patch up the missing bits. Then he’ll be able to switch gender and breed with himself.

  23. Takkelmaggot says:

    First Douglas Adams, now Michael Crichton. Before long all the favorite writers of my youth will be gone. Who’s next- Bruce Sterling? William Gibson?

  24. henebry says:

    I’m sorry to hear he’s died. I’d hoped he’d stick around another twenty years while evidence for global warming accumulated. I’d hoped to take him for a tour of an ice-free Acrtic, show him the flooded atolls of the South Pacific and ask, “Now are you satisfied?” Instead, he went to his grave unpersuaded and unrepentant.

  25. Mr. J says:

    Great Writer – I thought, until he published “State of Fear” which was an awful piece of ill minded propaganda work. I’ll always remember Congo though, which was my favorite.

  26. Hentzau says:

    I watched “The Great Train Robbery” in his memory last night.

  27. Sitte says:

    Wow, I just went to his Wikipedia page and found to my surprise that he only wrote Vicious Monkeys Will Kill Us All, not Sick Monkeys Will Kill Us All like I thought (that was Robin Cook. Not sure how I mixed that up.)

  28. Bonedancer says:

    Michael Crichton: good at premises, lousy at endings (cf: Sphere, The Terminal Man, etc)

  29. Shamus says:

    henebry: Since you’re hoping, wouldn’t it make more sense to hope he was right? Otherwise it seems like that would be a very expensive “I told you so”.

  30. Groboclown says:

    @Takkelmaggot:

    You missed on Robert Anton Wilson, as well. *sniff*

    I, too, don’t want to speak ill of the recently deceased. I will only comment that I was never able to finish any of his stories.

  31. Tizzy says:

    Bummer indeed, but I regret that too many people gave him scientific credentials which he did not really have. Some 60’s scifi writers could be credited with doing hard science (someone more knowledgeable than me would need to supply the details here), but Crichton was merely doing the “inspired by real science” the way some movies are “inspired by real events” (i.e. have nothing to do with).

    Which is perfectly fine, so long as you don’t take it seriously. He was a great entertainer, I wasn’t a rabid fan but I enjoyed quite a few of his books, until Timeline put me off. But too many took the science seriously when it was just a plot device, especially in the scientifically illiterate world of book reviews. And I’m afraid that later in life, he started believing the hype too, which would be more tragic to me than his passing.

    So no, Chaos Theory does *not* mean: “Shit Happens”…

  32. Rats says:

    The Andromeda strain. Took me years to realise it was the same Michael Chichton as Jurassic park. Then I found sphere. Not serious science fiction, but riveting and entertaining none the less. A real shame to see him go. Farewell Michael.

  33. Wil K. says:

    Well, there goes my life-long dream of finally meeting him in person…
    He will definitely be sorely missed. I’ll agree tat several of his most recent books weren’t very good (Prey had falsehoods on nearly every page, and did not have entertainment or intrigue value to cover), but nearly every ‘classic’ Crichton novel is absolutely amazing. And his speeches were truly inspired. He may not have been a scientist, but he sure knew what science wasn’t, and what it needed to be.

  34. Shamus: That would be wishful thinking. Hoping for something (except, I guess, placebo) doesn’t make that event any more likely. :-P

  35. Shamus says:

    Chris: Yes, but he was ALREADY hoping, which was my point.

    “I hope someday you get in a horrible wreck so that you learn you shouldn’t drink and drive.”

    vs.

    “I hope your drinking and driving doesn’t lead to an accident.”

    I mean, if you’re hoping anyway…

  36. Arson55 says:

    Timeline was easily my favorite Crichton book. The only other ones I read were Congo and the two Jurassic Park novels. None of them were bad, but overall, none of them were spectacular.

  37. WileyC says:

    While I’ll miss his fiction, the world will miss his active voice against the man made global warming cultists. No reasonable person doubts that there has been and will be global warming (or climate change as the loons prefer to call it now that the globe has started cooling). But a lot of very good scientists (meteorologists, not podiatrists, heh) are convinced that mankind has nothing to do with it.

    RIP, Michael, and we’ll try to keep up the good fight.

  38. Shamus says:

    I suppose the global warming debate is not necessarily politics, but I usually encourage people not to open up long-standing internet debates in general. I’ll let this one go if anyone wants to jump in, but I strongly encourage people to do so in a tone of civility and friendship. We’re all friends here, and I’d hate to see that change so we can have another trip through a debate we’ve all seen before.

    Personally, I’ve had it up to HERE with all the Cthulhu-deniers.

  39. R4byde says:

    That’s too bad about Crichton, he wrote some decent stuff. I wonder if the Reaper could be convinced to take the aforementioned Tom Clancy or perhaps Clive Cussler instead?

    Personally, I’ve had it up to HERE with all the Cthulhu-deniers

    Does that mean you also believe the Deep Ones responsible for the earth’s climate shift? Could it be? At long last a fellow believer perhaps?

  40. I grew up enjoying Crichton’s novels and the films made from them, particularly The Terminal Man and The Andromeda Strain. However, as he churned out novel after novel on the same theme (“scientific and technological advances will unfailingly destroy you”), I stopped reading.

    With his last couple of novels, he moved from “cranky” to “crank”, and I really can’t forgive him for that.

    I don’t necessarily object to people who deny the human influence on global climate change. I do object to people who cite scientific papers in a manner so falsified that it cannot be attributed to negligence or incompetence.

    Crichton was in both groups.

    “Despite “State of Fear’s” long bibliography, Crichton seems to have actually read only secondary sources, and does not understand them. He writes that our paper “concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century.” But we didn’t say that. Instead, we outlined plenty of technologies that must be further developed to stop a probable several-degree rise in global temperatures. We called for a Manhattan Project-style effort to explore technologies we already have.

    Perhaps because he wanted a dramatic, contrarian theme, Crichton did not let facts get in the way.

    Gregory Benford and Martin Hoffert, “Fear of Reason”, 2005

  41. Roxysteve says:

    Yeah, well.

    Jurassic Park in which the mathematician dies at the end but gets better so he can star in the sequel. MC pulled a Renko on that one.

    And then there was “Sphere”, which took a really promising plot and made pigswill from it.

    And then there was “Congo” where the setup was gripping, the trek through Congo was heart-stopping and the monster was mind-bogglingly dumb. I’d never play in another campaign run by *that* DM.

    But I have to give him megapoints for “Andromeda Strain”, “Terminal Man” and the original “Jurasic Park”, (which were all ruined to a large extent by making fillums out of them, though the original A.S. is quite good, if dated).

    And the movie “The 13th Warrior” is, at least in the movie version, iconic.

    I’m sorry he’s gone. I haven’t read anything he’s done since “Airframe”, but that doesn’t mean I think he deserved less than a full and long life.

  42. Wil K. says:

    I won’t argue with anyone here (even if Shamus said it was semi-kosher), but rather explain what I think Crichton’s main belief on climate change (and environmentalism in general) was: that the study of it has been largely UNscientific. Poor verifiability, Drake-equation-like justifications, and consensus science permeate the field, making it more of a faith than a true science. But with the power of the internet, why regurgitate it all? I recommend the speeches by Crichton linkied below:

    “Aliens caused global warming” (2003) – http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speech-alienscauseglobalwarming.html

    “Environmentalism as religion” (2003) – http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speech-environmentalismaseligion.html

  43. Tizzy says:

    I don’t want to belabor the point, the guy was entitled to his opinions as we are all, and there is no doubt he was smart, but wherever he turned to hard science, I wish everyone would take his writings with a HUGE grain of salt.

  44. anachronist says:

    Shamus says: “Personally, I’ve had it up to HERE with all the Cthulhu-deniers.”

    Eh, what? Did you finally play Call of Cthuhlu? I remember reading, during your DM of the Rings creation, that you had heard about the game but never had played it.

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