Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A Tribute to Michael Crichton
It's been a tough few weeks for fiction. We've recently lost some of our greats, including Tony Hillerman, Elaine Flinn, and yesterday, Michael Crichton.
While I had never had the privilege of meeting Crichton, when I opened my Yahoo page and saw his obituary, I experienced the sort of shock you normally feel when you've lost an acquaintance.
May of 1993. I had just finished writing my senior thesis, a series of short stories based on my Grandfather's WWI diaries. I actually finished the book a few days early, shockingly enough (and, as my editor would assure you, not at all true to form). Connecticut was in the full throes of spring, and on a warm, sunny day I brought a copy of Jurassic Park onto the lawn in front of the library and dove in. I generally didn't read thrillers, but the back cover copy had lured me with the promise of a complete escape from the tomes I'd been struggling with for eight semesters.
And I was completely swept away. That book was such a breath of fresh air, I was riveted. What a genius concept: a theme park, with real dinosaurs created from ancient DNA preserved in amber. It hooked me, and from then on I was a devout thriller fan.
Despite the fact that I didn't agree with all of his political stances, you have
to admire a man who never shied away from hot button issues. And Crichton undeniably possessed the Midas touch, prior to JK Rowling storming on to the scene he was the most successful author in the world. It can be argued that he not only revitalized the techno-thriller, paving the way for the success of Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, and James Rollins, but he also made medical dramas sexy again with ER. In addition to his novels, he collaborated on screenplays for films like "Twister." He was remarkably prolific, once claiming to churn out 10,000 words a day. As someone who considers herself fortunate to clock 10,000 words in a week, that's simply staggering.
Not to mention the fact that he was once chosen as one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People, a title that few writers have possessed (shall we call it the "paper ceiling?")
A remarkable writer, and a remarkable person. He will be missed.