RIP: Michael Crichton (1942 – 2008)

Wow. Michael Crichton is dead at the age of 66 after a long battle with cancer, something I didn’t even know he had, because he didn’t think it was necessary to tell people about it. I’m just stunned that he’s been fighting cancer all this time; I remember hearing him on the radio just a few months ago talking about Global Warming. I don’t know what to say. He was one of the very first authors I voluntarily picked up to read back in High School. Along with Robert Ludlum and Louis L’amour, I think Crichton was one of my favorite authors, and I devoured his old books on a regular basis. I wasn’t as big a fan of his newer works, like the awkward “Next”, but how could you NOT keep reading “Jurassic Park” or “Eaters of the Dead” once you got started?

I think people sometimes forgot that Crichton wasn’t just a novelist, he was a hell of a smart guy. He wrote about viral outbreaks in the ’60s (“The Andromeda Strain”), cloning in the ’80s (“Jurassic Park”), and most recently, questioned the religion of global warming (“State of Fear”). And oh yeah, he also created a little something on TV called ER. You may have heard of it.

The AP has an article on his passing, including a brief bio excerpt:

One of four siblings, Crichton was born in Chicago and grew up in Roslyn, Long Island. His father was a journalist and young Michael spent much of his childhood writing extra papers for teachers. In third grade, he wrote a nine-page play that his father typed for him using carbon paper so the other kids would know their parts. He was tall, gangly and awkward, and used writing as a way to escape; Mark Twain and Alfred Hitchcock were his role models.

Figuring he would not be able to make a living as writer, and not good enough at basketball, he decided to become a doctor. He studied anthropology at Harvard College, and later graduated from Harvard Medical School. During medical school, he turned out books under pseudonyms. (One that the tall author used was Jeffrey Hudson, a 17th-century dwarf in the court of King Charles II of England.) He had modest success with his writing and decided to pursue it.

His first hit, “The Andromeda Strain,” was written while he was still in medical school and quickly caught on upon its 1969 release. It was a featured selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and was sold to Universal in Hollywood for $250,000.

Godspeed, Michael Crichton. And yeah, I’m pretty sure he has questions about God, too. He just wouldn’t be Michael Crichton if he didn’t.