Best-Selling Author Michael Crichton Dies

Best-selling author and filmaker Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles Tuesday, after a courageous and private battle against cancer, his family said in a statement. He was 66.

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

Crichton also created the hospital drama “ER” for television. His most recent novel, “Next,” about genetics and law, was published in December 2006.

“While the world knew him as a great story teller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes,” the statement said. “He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.”

Through his books, Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way all could understand.

“He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world,” the statement added.

Born in Chicago Oct. 23, 1942, Crichton graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College, received his MD from Harvard Medical School, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching public policy with Jacob Bronowski. He taught courses in anthropology at Cambridge University and writing at MIT.

Crichton’s 2004 bestseller, “State of Fear,” acknowledged the world was growing warmer, but challenged extreme anthropogenic warming scenarios. His views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

Crichton’s first bestseller, “The Andromeda Strain,” was published while he was still a medical student. He later worked full time on film and writing. One of the most popular writers in the world, his books have been translated into thirty-six languages, and thirteen have been made into films.

Crichton won an Emmy, a Peabody, and a Writer’s Guild of America Award for “ER.” In 2002, a newly discovered ankylosaur was named for him: Crichtonsaurus bohlini.

A private funeral service is expected, but no further details will be released to the public.


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One thought on “Best-Selling Author Michael Crichton Dies

  1. Forgive me for speaking ill of the dead, but Crichton’s books have been a disappointment since before “Jurassic Park”.

    His best work – “Westword”, “The Andromeda Strain” – was done back when he was young and hungry for success. He really knew how to do clever things in order to create a world. For instance, in “The Andromeda Strain” there are many things contrived to give the appearance of a real historical document, most notably, a bibiography at the back of the novel. The entire bibliography is made up. None of the articles cited exist. Typographic tricks were used to illustrate computer displays. And it all worked with a crafty intelligence.

    “Westworld” even more admirable. Made on a literal shoestring (I believe it was made for quarter-mil) it created this seductively real world. If you can, find yourself a copy of the “novelization” of WestWorld … you’ll find it’s not a novel so much as the final script as it existed just before filming started (with a tantalizing scene with Japanese businessmen looking to invest in Delos that was never filmed) and a forward by Crichton telling the story of how the film got made. Compelling.

    After he got successful and just got productive, his fiction lost its edge, then after Jurassic Park, lost its point. I read that novel “Prey”, about runaway nanotech – it was a phoned-in Andromeda Strain where Wildfire is on the surface, the strain is the nanotech, loaded with tropes, and with an ending that more befit a 1950s horror movie than a finely crafted novel by a man with such a reputation. Left me unhappy. I wrote him off after he “tut tutted” us with that utterly risible and condescending book in which he admonished us all about worrying about global warming.

    But at least he did leave us with things like WestWorld and The Andromeda Strain, which really asked us to ask ourselves hard questions and challenged us to come up with our own answers, and demanded that we make them good ones.

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