Michael Crichton: A Tribute to Inspiration

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More sad news has come our way today. We have lost one of the most talented and prolific writers of our time. Michael Crichton left us yesterday at the young age of 66 to the greedy hands of Cancer.

He was born in 1942 in Chicago,Illinois and was raised in Long Island, New York. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and went on to receive his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. He then did his post-doctoral fellowship study at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies. While in medical school he wrote under two different pen names. His most famous work from that time is The Andromeda Strain which went on to become a film of the same name that recently received a less than stellar remake treatment earlier this year.

Other novels by him include The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, Congo, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure and of course Jurassic Park and its sequel The Lost World. His latest published work was Next in 2006 but there is an untitled work that will be released posthumously in 2009. He also created the long-running, critically acclaimed medical drama, ER.

Few authors possess the ability or the desire to leap from genre to genre as he did with seemingly little effort. The thing I have always admired most about his work is the great amount of research that he threw into each book. I never failed to be impressed by his extensive bibliographies that often seemed as if they would be as long as the novel itself. For instance, I learned more about quantum physics from Timeline than I ever did in school and I have always loved his discussion of The Chaos Theory in Jurassic Park. Of course the stories were fiction but they tended to be so steeped in fact that it was never difficult to suspend my disbelief. I would gladly immerse myself into his stories even if every portion of them was not plausible. That to me is a sign of a talented author.

His medical background often reared its head in his work. He was fond of writing cautionary tales based on the breakdown of perfect systems in the scientific community. Sometimes they were biological, sometimes more technical but the ideas were basically the same. When Man attempts to wield power through science, he had best be prepared for the inevitable outcome. And when something does go wrong it might just take you with it.

Crichton is mostly recognized for his immense stack of novels but he was not in the least a one trick pony. He was also responsible for writing and directing many films and television shows. He authored several non fiction works and was an eloquent speaker on behalf of the environment. He was the recipient of numerous awards ranging from Emmys and Peabodys to The Edgar Allen Poe Award and even had a dinosaur named after him, the Crichtonsaurus bohlini, in honor of Jurassic Park.

I found Crichton to be a literal inspiration as well a favorite entertainer. His work helped instill my own love of writing and research and will continue to do so. I am deeply saddened by this loss on a personal level and ask that we all take a moment to recognize his talents and celebrate his accomplishments. Even if you were not a fan of his work, it is difficult to deny his dedication to the craft.

My heart and my thoughts go out to his family at this time. I offer my condolences to those who knew and loved him. His career touched me, for one, and I know there are countless others who share this sentiment. I always wished to meet him but sadly never got the chance.  Rest in Peace, Mr. Crichton. You will not be forgotten.

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