Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Michael Crichton Christmas Video

My good friend Erik and his friend Angel, with some help from their families, have created a video based on A Michael Crichton Christmas!

I am just overwhelmed! It’s amazing and I can’t believe they put all that work into it!
So enjoy! And a Merry Christmas to all!

Visit Erik's Michael Crichton Collection!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

“On Point” Radio – Remembering Michael Crichton

I just discovered this today. Listen to the On Point radio show “Remembering Michael Crichton” with Tom Ashbrook, Friday, November 7, 2008

Program info--

Lev Grossman, book critic for TIME magazine. Earlier this week he wrote an appreciation of Michael Crichton as “A Master Storyteller of Technology’s Promise and Peril.” He’s the author of the novels “Codex” and “Warp.”

Lynn Nesbit, Michael Crichton’s literary agent for 37 years. She signed him in 1965 while he was still a medical student.

Chris Mooney, contributing editor to Science Progress. His forthcoming book, “Unscientific America,” deals in part with science and Hollywood. He’s also the author of “Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming” and “The Republican War on Science.” He blogs at The Intersection.

Nesbit revealed that Crichton’s medical degree from Harvard was in psychiatry.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Michael Crichton Christmas 2009

(Sung to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas)
By Marla Warren

On the first day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
A T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the second day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Two Lost Worlds
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me....

See "A Michael Crichton Christmas 2010"

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Monday, November 30, 2009

USA Today Article on Pirate Latitudes, Unfinished Novel

USA Today published a good review of Pirate Latitudes, calling it a “lusty, rollicking 17th-century adventure that should make for an even better movie.”

The newspaper also included a short sidebar article “One More Novel to be Finished” on the same page.

Crichton's publisher, HarperCollins' Jonathan Burnham, and his longtime agent, Lynn Nesbit, both say they didn't know about [Pirate Latitudes] but weren't surprised. "Michael was fascinated with pirates," Nesbit says.

The article also notes that “a writer will be chosen soon to finish” Crichton’s one-third completed technothriller.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank You, Michael Crichton

On Wednesday, literary agent Nathan Bransford posted You Tell Me: What Are You Thankful For? on his blog. Bransford asked:

What are you thankful for in the publishing/writing world?

So I’ve decided it’s time to thank the subject of this blog for a few things.

Thank you, Michael Crichton, for all you’ve given me and all your readers.

Thank you for the intellectual stimulation I’ve gotten from your books over the years.

Thank you for challenging and expanding my thinking and that of others.

Thank you for leaving us a new book Pirate Latitudes.

Thank you for the wonderful friends I made on your message board, and the new friends I continue to make because of this blog.

And most of all, thank you for your autobiography Travels, a book that has had a huge impact on how I view life and the world, a fascinating and very courageous book

I owe you so much. And this blog is my way of thanking you for everything.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pirate Latitudes: First Impressions

I just finished Pirate Latitudes, within 36 hours of starting it. I’m not going to give away any details, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Pirate Latitudes is an exciting and enjoyable tale. Michael Crichton clearly did his homework (not that I would have expected anything less). The novel is wonderfully descriptive, both in terms of setting and in relating different processes. The history fits very well with what I know myself of the Caribbean in the 1600s.

A small caveat for readers: Pirate Latitudes is brutally violent, topped with a hearty portion of sex. If Spielberg films the book as it’s written, the movie will be rated R. But I doubt he will, as the studio will want the teen and pre-teen audience for a pirate flick.

(I was disappointed that there was not a bibliography. Crichton’s last four novels—Timeline, Prey, State of Fear, and Next—all had bibliographies. State of Fear and Next even had annotated bibliographies. When I finish a Michael Crichton novel, it is my custom to then read nonfiction books about the subject matter. But under the circumstances, I can understand why there isn’t a bibliography. Perhaps I’ll create a recommended reading list for Pirate Latitudes.)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pirate Latitudes Is in the House!

I purchased my copy of Pirate Latitudes as soon as my bookstore opened. Just finished p. 95 and am enjoying myself thoroughly. I won’t say much more until later—wouldn’t dream of spoiling for anyone.

In the New York Times story announcing the publication of Pirate Latitudes, the publisher, Jonathan Burnham noted, “...'Pirate Latitudes' also harks back to the kind of historical yarn that Mr. Crichton wrote in the 'The Great Train Robbery', first published in 1975.”

Crichton’s newest novel has very much the same feel as The Great Train Robbery. It also reminds me of The Last Tomb, a novel Crichton published under the name “John Lange” in 1968. The Last Tomb is an excellent modern-day adventure about a six people searching for an undiscovered Egyptian tomb.

There’s a photo of Michael Crichton on the back cover of Pirate Latitudes. It’s a different photo than appeared on his last two novels, State of Fear and Next. In the photo, Crichton has one eyebrow raised quizzically. Just like Spock. Very logical.

Pirate Latitudes is 312 pages long and has for endpapers maps of the Caribbean in the 1600s, which is a great reference tool to use while reading.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Monday, November 23, 2009

With Anticipation and Some Sadness

Pirate Latitudes is coming out tomorrow and I will be first in line at my bookstore for my copy. I’m very excited about reading the novel, but I also find myself feeling sad. For several years now, when Michael Crichton published a new book, we could look forward to his television appearances to promote it. The day Crichton’s last novel Next was released in 2006, he appeared on Good Morning America, and later on appeared on Book TV and Charlie Rose. This time he won’t be there to tell about his book. I will be thinking of him a great deal tomorrow.

On a positive note, there's been an interesting development recently:

Hacked Emails Show Climate Science Ridden with Rancor
By Keith Johnson, Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2009

The picture that emerges of prominent climate-change scientists from the more than 3,000 documents and emails accessed by hackers and put on the Internet this week is one of professional backbiting and questionable scientific practices. It could undermine the idea that the science of man-made global warming is entirely settled just weeks before a crucial climate-change summit.

What has been revealed so far does much to vindicate Crichton’s thoughts on global warming, as stated in the author’s message and appendix of his novel State of Fear and in speeches he has made.

Somewhere, I think Michael Crichton is smiling right now.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pirate Latitudes US Edition Trailer

Harper Collins has put out a video trailer for the US edition of Pirate Latitudes.

The Pirate Latitudes UK Trailer came out in October.

Six days until the US release of Pirate Latitudes.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Win a copy of Pirate Latitudes!

For US and Canadian Michael Crichton fans, here’s a chance to win a copy of Pirate Latitudes!

A wonderful blog, The Tome Traveller’s Weblog, is giving away two copies of Crichton’s newest novel:

Pirate Latitudes Giveaway

The deadline is midnight Eastern Standard Time on November 20.

Good Luck!

Seven days until the US release of Pirate Latitudes.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pirates Turned Loose in UK Today!

Pirate Latitudes was released in the UK today. As a dedicated Anglophile, I am happy for our friends across the pond. Truly. I’m glad they get to read Michael Crichton’s new novel now even though I and my fellow Americans have to wait until Tuesday November 24.

I mean it. Really.

Just allow me a brief pirate exclamation:


Many of my friends from around the world have pointed out that they are used to waiting much longer than eight days for a book that is already available in America. I know -- I’m a spoiled rotten American. (And I’m working very hard to stay this way.)

But looking on the bright side, I cleared my calendar for the 24th and 25th, so I will have uninterrupted time to read Pirate Latitudes. If I had the book today, I wouldn’t be able to read it because I have to work. That would be torture (have I mentioned that I’m spoiled?)

I’m warning my European friends and readers not to email me or post ANY SPOILERS! Don’t even think about it! NOT LISTENING!!!

(Cover ears with hands, shuts eyes and sings pirate songs:

♫ “With cat-like tread,
Upon our prey we steal…”♫ )

Eight days until the US release of Pirate Latitudes.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:
Kahlessa's Corner

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Year Ago

It was one year ago today that Michael Crichton died from cancer. I’m too tired to write what I want to now so I will post more later.

There’s one thing that Crichton’s death changed for me. Every year on New Year’s Eve, I am always very excited about the new year coming in. Though I’m usually at home rather than out at a party, I always do the countdown and celebrate the occasion. But on this last New Year’s Eve I felt sad, because the passage of time was taking Michael Crichton farther away from us.

Here’s article on Crichton’s death that contains quotes from his brother, Douglas Crichton:

Crichton’s Death Ends Thrilling Ride
By David K. Li, New York Post, November 6, 2008

I felt that because of the timing of his passing, Crichton’s death did not receive the attention it deserved, being greatly overshadowed by the election. That’s why I was pleased that Charlie Rose did a tribute to Michael Crichton on his show on Wednesday, November 12, 2008:

An Appreciation of Michael Crichton

I'll always think of 2008 as the year we lost Michael Crichton.

Read the First 56 Pages of Pirate Latitudes!

Harper Collins is allowing readers to browse online and read the first 56 pages of Pirate Latitudes!

It’s wonderful to get a taste, but so frustrating not to be able to read on….

20 days until the US release of Pirate Latitudes

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Origin of Pirate Latitudes

When the publication of Pirate Latitudes was announced in an April New York Times story, Jonathan Burnham, the publisher said of the novel:

“It’s eminently and deeply and thoroughly researched….It’s packed through with great detail about navigation and how pirates operated, and links between the New World and the Caribbean and Spain.”

Pirate Latitudes was discovered on Michael Crichton’s computer by his assistant after he died, and Burnham speculated that it was written at the same time Crichton wrote his most recent novel, Next, which was published in 2006.

But there is evidence that Pirate Latitudes was in the works at least 30 years ago. Crichton’s autobiography Travels contains a chapter titled “Jamaica” in which he tells of a Christmas vacation in 1982 with a woman named Terry. Most of the chapter is about their relationship breaking up, but on pp.268-269 Crichton writes:

Before we left Jamaica, I wanted to go to Spanish Town in the south, where I had learned there was a new museum of early Jamaican artifacts. For many years I had been working on a book about seventeenth-century Jamaica, and now I wanted to visit this museum.

Now I think we can safely assume that the book was probably a novel, as nearly all Crichton’s books have been novels. And from what I know of the history of Jamaica and the Caribbean, it is unlikely that the book would not involve pirates given their significance and centrality to Jamaica in the 1600s.

And in 1970, Crichton (under the name John Lange) published a mystery thriller, Grave Descend, which takes place in Jamaica in modern times. That novel, which was republished in 2006, reflects a thorough knowledge of the island and includes a historical reference on p. 124:

The Pit was the native term for a vast swampy marsh in southwestern Jamaica….There were stories of pirate treasure buried here; Morgan supposedly cached gold in the swamp, carrying it by long boat up from Port Royal, the ancient site of modern Kingston. There were stories of millions of dollars in bullion hidden in these swamps. There were also stories of ghosts, men lost and doomed to wander here forever.

Morgan is a reference to privateer and pirate Henry Morgan, who eventually became governor of Jamaica. From the information available so far on Pirate Latitudes, the character of Captain Charles Hunter may have been inspired by Henry Morgan (a question I’ll ponder and explore after I read the novel).

With Michael Crichton, as with many writers, a time lag of several years between the inspiration for a book and its completion was not unusual.
From the FAQs section on Crichton’s website:

How long, on average, does it take to write one of your books, from initial idea to publication?

There is no way to say, it varies so much. THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY was 3 years. SPHERE was 20 years. JURASSIC was 8 years. DISCLOSURE was 5 years. Usually, an idea "cooks" in my head for a very long time before I write it.

Related Posts:
Origins of Pirate Latitudes - Part 2

21 days until the US release of Pirate Latitudes.

Nook Wifi - 300x250

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Listen to an Audio Sample of Pirate Latitudes!

Harper Collins UK has provided us with another treat!

Now you can listen to a six and a half minute audio sample of the first chapter of Pirate Latitudes, read by actor John Bedford Lloyd.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Friday, October 23, 2009

On the Day Michael Crichton Was Born

Today Michael Crichton would have been 67 years old.

I felt his absence the first thing this morning, when my clock radio went off. The station always lists the famous people having birthdays that day. And Michael Crichton wasn’t on that list anymore. There’s also a section in the newspaper of famous people’s birthdays, and he’s not there either.

I remember starting threads wishing him a happy birthday on the message board on his official website a few times. I hope he enjoyed them. He never posted to the board himself, though the administrator told us that he read the messages there frequently.

There are a number of important events that occurred and famous people who were born on October 23. You can check it out at Wikipedia.

But I find myself taking note of an important event that occurred on October 23, 1942, the very day Michael Crichton was born.

The Second Battle of El Alamein

On October 23, 1942, Allied troops, under the command of British general Bernard Montgomery, attacked German troops under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa. While some accounts list the battle as ending on November 5, 1942, Rommel gave the order to retreat on November 4, which effectively ended the battle.

Michael Crichton died on November 4, 2008.

The Allied victory at El Alamein prevented Nazi Germany from gaining control of the Suez Canal and the oil fields in the Middle East. Winston Churchill said, "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat."

Michael Crichton’s life and the Second Battle of El Alamein both began on the same day. Both endured intense struggles that resulted in ultimate triumph. Both were very significant, though in different ways.

And Michael Crichton fought the battles he felt needed to be fought.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes UK Trailer

The marketing department at Harper Collins UK sent me a link for a video trailer for Pirate Latitudes:

Pirate Latitudes UK Trailer

Also on YouTube is:

The Making of Pirate Latitudes
, a short video on the making of the promotional trailer.

The promotional video is very well done and really whets my appetite for the novel. Though I have to suppress my scream at the end when it reads:

“Available from 16th November”

Pirate Latitudes is also scheduled for release on Monday Nov. 16 in France and Germany, according to the Amazon France and Amazon Germany websites.

I still don’t have an answer from Harper Collins as to why Pirate Latitudes is coming out in Europe eight days before it is scheduled for release on Tuesday Nov. 24 in the US. Perhaps the publisher wants the US edition to come out right before the Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping. The Friday after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is the busiest shopping day of the entire year. Some say the name comes from retailers getting back in the black on that day. But for retail store employees, the name tends to reflect our mood at the end of that extremely hectic day.

Whatever the reason, I’m going to be very irked if I have to wait eight days longer for Pirate Latitudes because I live in the US. (In fact, “very irked” is an understatement.)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who Said It: Carl Sagan or Michael Crichton?

See how you do on this:

Quiz - Who Said It: Carl Sagan or Michael Crichton?

Today we're contemplating a verbal battle between two dearly departed authors. In one corner, we have Carl Sagan, the noted astronomer, astrochemist, author, alien hunter and host of TV's "Cosmos." In the other, we have Michael Crichton, the author, producer, physician and lecturer responsible for all those "Jurassic Park" films. Both men loved science and helped popularize it with their work, but they strongly disagreed on issues such as global warming. So which one said the following quotes? It's the creator of "The Andromeda Strain" versus the creator of "Contact."

It's trickier than it looks. There are three possible answers so occasionally the correct answer is neither Crichton nor Sagan.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pirate Latitudes to be Released in UK Before US?

According to the Harper Collins UK and Amazon UK websites, the UK edition of Michael Crichton’s new novel Pirate Latitudes is scheduled for a Monday November 16 release—a full eight days before the US release on Tuesday November 24 according to the Harper Collins, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble websites. I’ll make some inquiries and see what I can find out. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a book by an American author released abroad before being released in the US.

Side note: Actor John Bedford Lloyd will be reading the audio book of Pirate Latitudes. Lloyd also did the audio edition of Crichton’s State of Fear

(Thank you, Pavel, for bring this to my attention!)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Michael Crichton on Civility in Discussions

In November 2005 I was fortunate enough to participate in a Barnes & Noble online discussion with Michael Crichton on his novel State of Fear. Most of those participating were civil, though one man, “Adam”, seemed to have joined up just to get in Crichton’s face. The moderator dealt with him as best he could and finally Michael Crichton posted this:

Adam, debate---including spirited debate--- is enjoyable, interesting and informative. It sometimes even changes peoples' minds.

But you have to be open to it, you have to be courteous, and you have to be careful about sarcasm and snottiness.

And especially you have to be mindful, as Mill observed, to state your opponents' views correctly and with care.

You don't.

So there's no discussion possible with you.

Crichton’s advice should be heeded by those on both sides of the political aisle.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Michael Crichton and 9/11

In an August 7, 2003 interview “Michael Crichton: You Ask The Questions” in the British newspaper The Independent, Crichton was asked:

Your novel Airframe is about an investigation of an air disaster. What effect did the September 11 attacks have on you?

Michael Crichton replied:

I was on an American Airlines flight that left New York for Los Angeles at 8am on September 11. Our plane was ordered down in Indianapolis - we weren't told why, and we knew nothing of what had happened. While we were taxiing to the gate, I called my office in California to tell them I would be arriving late. Everybody was in tears. They thought I was dead. The news hadn't by then identified which 8am flights had been hijacked.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Michael Crichton on Yahoo Answers

There is a wonderful website, Yahoo Answers, where people can ask questions on a variety of topics and other people try to answer them. It’s an excellent reference source for all kinds of information.

A few months ago I was surprised to discover that Michael Crichton had once participated on this website. Under his name is a green label reading “official” which means that Yahoo verified that he is the famous person of that name. He is listed as being a member since December 4, 2006, which was soon after the publication of Next.

Usually when you click on someone’s profile, you can see what questions they have asked and answered. But if you click on Michael Crichton’s profile currently, you get this message:
The user you've specified does not exist on Yahoo! Answers. You may have clicked on an invalid link, please try again later.

Fortunately when I discovered Crichton’s profile, it was still active. He did not spend much time on Yahoo Answers but he did ask one question and answered three.

Michael Crichton asked:
What will be the biggest benefit for human beings from mapping the human genome?

There were 2,154 responses and Crichton wrote this after selecting one as best answer:

Most of the best answers talked about medical benefits from decoding the genome though even the most knowledgeable of you were rather vague about the benefits to come. That's understandable; at this point nobody knows where our research efforts will lead. Genetics has diagnostic potential but many scientists believe that in a few years proteins will prove to be more useful. The whole field is in flux.
A number of you mentioned immortality. There has certainly been a lot of speculation about that, but many lines of research lead me to feel quite certain that immortality is not in our future. It's fun to think about, but don't hold your breath.
I choose the answer from ZERO COOL because it focused on realistic outcomes, including rational drug design, early detection of genetic predisposition to disease, and custom drugs. And the author seems to have a firm grasp of exactly how we move from symptomatic treatment to addressing disorders at a fundamental level.

Here are the three questions Crichton answered:

How would one go about starting to write a novel?

Crichton’s response:
There is a famous answer to this. Put seat in chair. Keep it there eight hours a day. Face the paper or computer screen. Continue to work until something useful happens.

There is another famous answer, to paraphrase John Cage: "Have something you want to say, and then say it."

There is a third answer: there are no tricks. You just have to do it. It's rather like a construction project.

Product placement in books. How can this work to enhance a story?

Crichton’s response:
I oppose this practice. I think when people are being exposed to adverts, they should know it.

What talents do you need to be a best-selling author (apart from being able to write!)?

Crichton’s response:
Judging from the best seller lists, I am not sure writing ability is so important, frankly.

As for necessary talents, remember what E.M. Forster said: "The story, oh my God the story." Storytelling is the most important skill.

As for myself, I like to answer questions on Yahoo Answers, and I look for questions on Michael Crichton. Unfortunately many of them are from students who don’t want to actually read his books and are looking for someone to do their homework for them. I remember back in 2005 someone posted a message on the board of Crichton’s official website asking for a list of all the differences between the Jurassic Park book and the film version.

The Administrator responded:

This sounds suspiciously like you want help doing a school project or homework, which we don't do here. Michael is a big believer in doing your own work. If you didn't plan enough time to do the proper research, then talk to your teacher and have him help you learn better time/management skills…There is a BIG difference between asking for clarification on a point or two (which is fine) -- after you've done the leg work -- and asking for a full term paper (which is not fine).

As a former teacher, I am also a big believer in students doing their own work. For example:

Bad question:
“One event from each chapter in Michael Crichton "the Andromeda strain"?
just one small event PLEASE even if its only a few chapters”

My response:
“Have you tried reading the book? I'm sure you can find the information there.”

Good question:
I have a question about The Great Train Robbery, by Michael Crichton?
I read the book at the beginning of summer, but I left it at home, and now I have to write a report on it. Could someone please tell me the name of the young lady Edward Pierce was courting in order to get the key from her father? If you could, it would be a great help! Thank you!!!!

Now this is a question from someone who has clearly read the book, and I was happy to answer it.

78 days until the release of Pirate Latitudes!

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spielberg Plans Pirate Latitudes Film

According to an article in USA Today, Steven Spielberg is planning to make a film based on Michael Crichton’s anticipated posthumous novel Pirates Latitudes. Spielberg has hired David Koepp, who wrote the screenplays for Jurassic Park and The Lost World, to adapt the novel for the screen.

From the article:
"Michael wrote a real page-turner that already seems suited for the big screen," Spielberg said of Pirate Latitudes. "Michael and I have had almost two decades of solid collaborations. Whenever I made a film from a Michael Crichton book or screenplay, I knew I was in good hands. Michael felt the same, and we like to think he still does."

Pirate Latitudes is scheduled for release on November 24, 2009.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Crichton Playboy Interview Now Online

In January 1999 Playboy magazine published a lengthy interview with Michael Crichton. I had obtained a photocopy from a university library, but the interview has become available online only recently.

Playboy Interview - Michael Crichton - January 1999

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Michael Crichton News - July 29, 2009

Vanity Fair Article Cites Michael Crichton Speech

In the August 2009 issue of Vanity Fair Michael Wolff begins his article Politico’s Washington Coup by referencing Michael Crichton’s speech Mediasaurus: The Decline of Conventional Media, which appeared in the Sept/Oct 1993 issue of Wired magazine. From the article:

In the fourth issue of Wired magazine, in the fall of 1993, just as the Internet was entering public consciousness, Michael Crichton, the author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, wrote an essay arguing that newspapers were doomed because they were too dumb. As information became cheaper, more plentiful, and easier to get, consumers, he argued, would become ever more immersed in their specific interests and understand that their more generally oriented paper—at least in the matter of a reader’s special interest, but also by inference everything else—had no idea what it was talking about.

Sixteen years later, the ultimate result of Crichton’s theory about the fallacy of general-interest news—and, as a corollary, the answer to the riddle of who’s going to report the news when traditional, general-interest news organizations stop doing it—is, for better and worse, Politico...more

Literary Agent Listed Sphere as Favorite Beach Read

On his blog, literary agent Nathan Bransford asked:
What are your favorite beach reads of all time?

Bransford wrote:
I'll start with SPHERE by Michael Crichton, CRYPTONOMICON by Neal Stephenson (NPR got that one right), and anything by Jane Austen.

Pirate Latitudes: Crichton's 16th Novel

There have been 15 novels published under Michael Crichton’s name, so Pirates Latitudes will be the 16th novel and the untitled, unfinished novel will be the 17th.

(And if we include the novels Crichton wrote under the pseudonyms of John Lange, Jeffery Hudson, and Michael Douglas, Pirate Latitudes would be number 26. Crichton’s official website doesn’t list his pseudonym novels.)

Novels by Michael Crichton

1. The Andromeda Strain (1969)

2. The Terminal Man (1972)

3. The Great Train Robbery (1975)

4. Eaters of the Dead (1976)

5. Congo (1980)

6. Sphere (1987)

7. Jurassic Park (1990)

8. Rising Sun (1992)

9. Disclosure (1994)

10. The Lost World (1995)

11. Airframe (1996)

12. Timeline (1999)

13. Prey (2002)

14. State of Fear (2004)

15. Next (2006)

16. Pirate Latitudes (scheduled 2009)

17. Untitled novel (scheduled 2010)

As John Lange:

1. Odds On (1966)

2. Scratch One (1967)

3. Easy Go (also published as The Last Tomb) (1968)

4. Zero Cool (1969)
(reprinted in 2008)

5. The Venom Business (1969)

6. Drug of Choice (1970)

7. Grave Descend (1970)
(reprinted in 2006)

8. Binary (1972)

As Jeffery Hudson:

9. A Case of Need (1968)

As Michael Douglas (Michael Crichton and Douglas Crichton):

10. Dealing, or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1970)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Harper Collins Tribute to Michael Crichton

At this year’s BookExpo America, (which ran May 25-27, 2009 in New York City), Harper Collins held a reception to honor Michael Crichton. As reported in USA Today:

Crichton's legacy

When Michael Crichton, master of the techno-thriller, died in November at age 66, he left behind a completed novel, an unfinished one and a pregnant wife.

Crichton's fifth wife, Sherri, gave birth three months ago to John Michael Crichton, who was mentioned but not present at a cocktail party/tribute hosted by Crichton's publisher, HarperCollins, on Thursday night.

The publisher announced in April its plans to release Crichton's 18th novel, Pirate Latitudes, set in 1665, on Nov. 24, and an untitled 19th novel next year.

At the party, publisher Jonathan Burnham said Crichton left about 90 pages of a techno-thriller and a "lucid" outline of the plot, "a gift for another writer." Burnham said Harper Collins is close to signing someone to finish the book.

Crichton's longtime agent, Lynn Nesbit, wouldn't say much about the untitled book other than, "It's going to keep you on the edge of your seats."

She fought back tears as she recalled how Crichton, who published a novel while still a student at Harvard Medical School, hired her 40 years ago despite her inexperience.

"He told me, 'Let's grow up in this business together.' We did and we had a long run. ... Happily, he left so much behind." —Minzesheimer

And in her blog The Literary Life, Sara Nelson called the event “easily the most emotional of the fair.”

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Have You Reserved Your Copy of Pirate Latitudes Yet?

Barnes & Noble and Amazon are both taking pre-orders and reservations for Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes now. (Those who don't want to order online can call their local bookstore to reserve a copy.)

I've got my name down. The release date for Pirates Latitudes is Tuesday November 24, 2009 which is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I'll probably have it read by Thanksgiving--Crichton's novels seem to read very quickly for me.

Let the countdown begin! Only 144 days to go until we get to read a new Michael Crichton book!

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Michael Crichton Book Covers

Pavel Frčka has created a wonderful web page showing the first edition covers of all of Michael Crichton’s books, including the ones Crichton wrote under pseudonyms. It also shows the cover for the highly anticipated posthumous novel, Pirate Latitudes.

I must note that the cover for Jasper Johns is for the 1977 edition, while Crichton’s official website has the cover for the 1994 edition.

In addition, Pavel Frčka has also created a website showing the Czech edition book covers of Crichton’s works. Crichton’s website does show international covers for The Lost World and The Andromeda Strain. Examining the international covers not only reveals something about the books, but perhaps something about the different cultures as well.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pirate Latitudes Cover Revealed

Harper Collins has now posted the cover for Pirate Latitudes online.

(Thank you, Pavel, for the alert!)

The colors include red, black and white which have been staples on Crichton book covers, but this one also includes blue sky and what appears to be green water deepening to gray.

Michael Crichton’s name is in red, as it has been on the covers of the following books:
State of Fear
The Lost World
Jurassic Park
The Great Train Robbery
Five Patients

Pirate Latitudes
will be Michael Crichton’s 16th novel (under his own name), and will be 320 pages long. This ranks its length as 12th among Crichton’s novels.

1. State of Fear (2004) – 603

2. Timeline (1999) – 449

3. Next (2006) – 431

4. Jurassic Park (1990) – 399

5. Disclosure (1994) – 397

6. Lost World (1995) – 393

7. Sphere (1987) – 385

8. Prey (2002) – 367

9. Rising Sun (1992) – 355

10. Airframe (1996) – 351

11. Congo (1980) – 348

12. Pirate Latitudes (2009) – 320

13. The Andromeda Strain (1969) – 295

14. The Great Train Robbery (1975) – 266

15. Terminal Man (1972) – 247

16. Eaters of the Dead (1976) – 193

Pirate Latitudes is scheduled for release on Tuesday, November 24, 2009.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Michael Crichton and Jeopardy

I’ve always been a big fan of the game show Jeopardy and I’ve been trying to get on as a contestant for years now. I’ve passed the qualifying test before, but so far I haven’t gotten called to be on the show. Soon I’ll be trying out again. (I passed an online test and was notified early in April that I would have the chance to tryout in person.)

On Friday, April 24, I came home and turned on the TV to watch Jeopardy, which was already in progress. The first clue I saw was:

"Brain", "Coma", and "Contagion" are among his medical thrillers

The current champion, Liz Murphy, answered incorrectly:
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

The correct answer was “Who is Robin Cook?” However, there is a connection. Michael Crichton wrote and directed the 1978 film adaptation of Coma.

I remember thinking, “It’s a sign,” and I started wondering when else Michael Crichton was mentioned on Jeopardy. Thanks to the fan website J!-Archive, which chronicles the Jeopardy shows, I was able to compile this list of 34 mentions (in reverse chronological order):

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Final Jeopardy! Round
A recent re-issue of this Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel includes an introduction by Michael Crichton
“What is The Lost World?”

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This novelist who wrote about gorillas in "Congo" is on the board of the Gorilla Foundation
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Monday, March 12, 2007
In this Michael Crichton novel, a Scoop VII satellite returns to Earth with a deadly virus
“What is The Andromeda Strain?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
1992 was a year of some tension in the relationship, symbolized by the publication of this man's novel "Rising Sun"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

2005's "Marker" is the 25th medical thriller from this bestselling physician/author
Incorrect question by Luke “Who is Michael Crichton?”
Alex commented, “Yes, he eliminated the other one for you!” and Robbi, who answered correctly “Who is Robin Cook?” said, “Yes, he did.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
(Hi. I'm Julie Bowen, and) I appeared on 9 episodes of "ER" as Noah Wyle's girlfriend, a series that was created by this "Jurassic Park" author
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Monday, September 19, 2005
The doctor was in, or rather on, the list with his environmentally themed "State of Fear"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Final Jeopardy! Round
In 2000 this writer, with more than 100 million copies of novels in print, had a new species of dinosaur named for him

Only one contestant, Jeff Richmond, was left to play Final Jeopardy. He answered correctly “Who is Michael Crichton?”

Tuesday, July 8, 2003
"Jurassic Park", "Disclosure" & "Rising Sun" were all based on books by this author
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Robin Cook cooked up the story for this '78 thriller; Michael Crichton directed it
“What is Coma?”

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
This thriller by Michael Crichton is a follow-up to "Jurassic Park"
“What is The Lost World?”

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
John Lange & Jeffery Hudson are some of the pen names this "Andromeda Strain" author has used
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Monday, March 11, 2002
An airplane quality assurance officer is the heroine of "Airframe" by this author of "Jurassic Park"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Wednesday, June 13, 2001
One reviewer said "Wondrous beasts and scientific possibilities" made this Michael Crichton novel "alluring"
“What is Jurassic Park?”

Thursday, June 22, 2000
Under a joint pen name, this "Congo" author co-wrote "Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston 40-Brick Lost-Bag Blues"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Friday, February 18, 2000
This author of "Jurassic Park" put himself through Harvard medical school writing under the name John Lange
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Thursday, November 11, 1999
Mathematician Ian Malcolm confronts more dinosaurs in this 1995 Michael Crichton sequel
“What is The Lost World?”

Wednesday, July 14, 1999
He published "The Andromeda Strain" in 1969, during his last year in medical school
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Thursday, December 17, 1998

Chicken-sized dinosaurs called compys didn't make it from this 1990 Michael Crichton novel to the 1993 film
“What is Jurassic Park?”

Friday, October 2, 1998
STEPHEN KING (Alex: The author? Yes!)
(Hi, I'm Stephen King, master of horror.) In the 1980s I stated, "I've seen the future of horror, and its name is" this author"
Incorrect question “Who is Michael Crichton?”
Correct question “Who is Clive Barker?”

Friday, September 11, 1998
One review called his "Andromeda Strain" "Compelling and reasonably executed"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Tuesday, May 19, 1998
This novelist & medical school graduate (Harvard '69) created the TV show "ER"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Thursday, May 7, 1998

This Michael Crichton novel was shaped into a 1998 Warner Bros. film by Barry Levinson
“What is Sphere?”

Friday, February 6, 1998
This "Rising Sun" author took to the skies with "Airframe", a suspense novel
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Monday, January 26, 1998
A 1925 dinosaur film based on a Conan Doyle tale or a 1997 dinosaur film based on a Crichton book
“What is The Lost World?”

Friday, December 26, 1997
This author of "The Lost World" wrote & directed "Westworld", in which Yul played a gunslinging robot
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Tuesday, May 6, 1997
1997 International Tournament semifinal game 2.
From Stockholm, Sweden.
"The Andromeda Strain", "Jurassic Park"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Friday, May 2, 1997
Between his novels "Congo" & "Sphere", he published "Electronic Life: How to Think About Computers"
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Thursday, April 10, 1997

Michael Crichton directed & wrote the screenplay for this medical thriller based on a Robin Cook novel
“What is Coma?”
(One contestant answered “Outbreak” incorrectly.)

Monday, March 3, 1997
In 1969 & 1970 this "Andromeda Strain" author was a fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Wednesday, December 11, 1996

In 1993 this author sold the film rights to "Disclosure" for about $3.5 million before it had been published
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Wednesday, October 2, 1996
This author of "Acceptable Risk" has been dubbed "The Master of the Medical Thriller"
Incorrect question “Who is Michael Crichton?”
Correct question “Who is Robin Cook?”

Friday, September 6, 1996

This "Jurassic Park" author once taught anthropology at Cambridge University
“Who is Michael Crichton?”

Wednesday, April 10, 1996
A diamond hunt turns deadly when the expedition meets killer gorillas in this Michael Crichton novel
“What is Congo?

I just remembered something! Michael Crichton was born in Chicago and that’s where I’m going for the Jeopardy tryouts. Another sign!

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pirate Latitudes Info

Harper Collins has released some information on Michael Crichton’s novel Pirate Latitudes, scheduled for release November 24, 2009:

Discovered among Crichton’s files after his passing last fall, Pirate Latitudes is an adventure tale unlike anything Crichton readers have seen before. Demonstrating the versatility and raw storytelling power of this master of suspense, it is sure to generate tremendous reader interest and media coverage.

Jamaica in 1665 is a rough outpost of the English crown, a minor colony holding out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, Jamaica's capital, a cut-throat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses, is devoid of London's luxuries; life here can end swiftly by dysentery or a dagger. But for Captain Edward Hunter it is a life that can also lead to riches, if he abides by the island's code. In the name of His Majesty King Charles II of England, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking. And law in the New World is made by those who take it into their hands.

Word in port is that the Spanish treasure galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is stalled in nearby Matanceros harbor awaiting repairs. Heavily fortified, the impregnable Spanish outpost is guarded by the blood-swiller Cazalla, a favorite commander of King Philip IV himself. With the governor's backing, Hunter assembles a roughneck crew to infiltrate the enemy island and commandeer the galleon, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloody legends of Matanceros suggest, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he finds himself on the island's shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry are all that stand between him and the treasure.

With the help of his cunning crew, Hunter hijacks El Trinidad and escapes the deadly clutches of Cazalla, leaving plenty of carnage in his wake. But his troubles have just begun. . . .

(Thank you John and Juroc for discovering this!)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

People magazine's “Most Beautiful People” List

Recently, People magazine published their annual “Most Beautiful People” list and I was reminded of Michael Crichton, who once was on the list and featured in the May 4, 1992 issue.

Crichton’s bio on his official website (before it was revised a while back) said this:

“Crichton was named one of the ‘Fifty Most Beautiful People’ by People magazine in 1992, but, he observes, never again.”

That Crichton was never again on the list is a poor reflection on the staff of People magazine. Seldom has there ever been such a brilliant mind in such a handsome package.

I remember a quote from the play (and later film) The Lion in Winter by James Goldman. Eleanor of Aquitaine is remembering meeting Henry II for the first time and she describes it thus:

“He came down from the north to Paris with a mind like Aristotle's and a form like mortal sin.”

That line always makes me think of Michael Crichton.

And I thought he had especially beautiful hands.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

ER Tribute to Michael Crichton

When Michael Crichton died, there was a brief tribute to him that aired at the beginning of ER on Nov. 13, 2008. It featured Eriq La Salle (who played Dr. Peter Benton) .

Then on April 2, 2009, just before the final episode of the series, NBC aired the documentary "ER Retrospective" which contained the following comments:

Steven Spielberg:

When Michael Crichton left us, he left a grand legacy in both television and motion pictures, but it’s ironic that the show is gonna retire its number in the same year that Michael left us.

John Wells (ER Executive Producer) :
The final episode is a bit of a homage to what we did in the first episode, in the pilot. And I felt as if he wrote it with me, you know. We had sat in a room and made the changes, and the things we needed to do in the pilot script. And I kept feeling like he was still there with me.

Noah Wyle (actor who played John Carter):
I would love to have him there when we have our finale party, be able to shake his hand and thank him for the life I lead.

But you know, I always felt he was watching, I was always aiming to please.

I would have liked a longer recognition of Crichton’s contribution as the creator of ER, but that’s my own bias. With 15 seasons, the retrospective had a great deal of ground to cover.

But I had wondered if there would be any kind reference to Michael Crichton in the final episode, titled “And in the End...”. The powers that be did not disappoint. In one scene, Dr. Morris is standing outside the ER and is freezing. He complains about the cold and says, “Global warming! A couple of those scientists should spend April in Chicago.”

I’m sure Michael Crichton got a kick out of that. :-D

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone! I feel the need to point out yet again, that being skeptical about mankind's contribution to global warming does not mean you don't care about the planet. It's interesting that if you express the slightest reservation about the causes and cures of global warming, people act like you're going on a hunting trip for endangered species.

This exchange between Kenner and Ted Bradley in Michael Crichton's State of Fear makes a good point:
“So what exactly is your point?” Bradley said. “You're saying that we don't need to pay any attention to the environment, that we can just leave it alone and let industry pollute and everything will be hunky-dory?”
For a moment, it looked to Sarah as if Kenner would get angry, but he did not. He said, “If you oppose the death penalty, does it also mean you are in favor of doing nothing at all about crime?”
“No,” Ted said.
”You can oppose the death penalty but still favor punishing criminals?”
”Yes. Of course.”
”Then I can say that global warning is not a threat, but still favor environmental controls, can't I?”

Crichton clarified his own position during his testimony in the Senate hearing on September 28, 2005:
“In closing, I want to state emphatically that nothing in my remarks should be taken to imply that we can ignore our environment, or that we should not take climate change seriously. On the contrary, we must dramatically improve our record on environmental management. That's why a focused effort on climate science, aimed at securing sound, independently verified answers to policy questions, is so important now.”

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Posthumous Publication - Part One

There’s a great deal of discussion lately about the decision to publish two Michael Crichton novels (one unfinished) posthumously. Some people are skeptical or uneasy that a techno thriller that Crichton had only written a third of will be finished by another author selected by Crichton’s publisher and family. It’s a topic I find intriguing and I’ll research and ponder it for a future essay on this blog.

First of all, I think fears that Crichton’s estate will authorize other writers to create completely new novels to be published under his name are unfounded. I will explain more in detail, but in short Crichton was not merely a storyteller—he was a philosopher who explored ideas and issues through novels. Another writer would not be able to recreate the intellect and passion that were the soul of Crichton’s works. I also do not think the fans would go for it.

Here are a few things to consider about the unfinished novel:

• If Michael Crichton didn’t want someone else to complete the novel, (or publish other books that may be found on his computer), he could have legally restricted anyone from doing that in his will. And there may be other legal steps he could have taken. He was too brilliant a man not to consider what might happen when he died.

• Michael Crichton signed a deal with Harper Collins to write two techno thrillers. Next was the first one. As the contract specifies the type of novel as “techno thriller”, the pirate novel does not fulfill the contract. As Crichton probably received an advance for both books when he signed the deal, his estate may be required to either let someone else finish the novel, or return part of the advance to Harper Collins. Unless there was a clause in the contract voiding the estate’s obligation in the event of the author’s death.

• Michael Crichton used his novels to comment on things that people need think about. Even if he was not able to finish his novel, he had probably done a great deal of research. If Michael Crichton had something to say, I want to hear it, even if someone else has to help convey the message.

A very important thing to remember is that Harper Collins cannot decide to publish anything of Michael Crichton's without the permission Crichton's family. So to criticize Harper Collins is unfair and an inaccurate perception of the situation. If Crichton's family authorizes the completion and publication of the unfinished novel mad other works, who am I to criticize them? His family knew him much better than his readers did, and Crichton left his legacy in their charge. I strongly feel it is not my place to second-guess his family's motivations and actions.

(One posthumous work of Michael Crichton’s has already been released. According to Wikipedia, Crichton’s widow Sherri gave birth to their son John Michael Todd Crichton on February 12, 2009. I wish him good fortune throughout his life, and offer congratulations and best wishes to his family.)

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spanish TV Tribute to Michael Crichton

I discovered this two-part tribute on the homepage of Erik’s Michael Crichton Collection. Even though the narration is in Spanish, (which I don’t understand very well), the video clips are marvelous—with some footage I’ve never seen before.

Crichton en DCINE (I)

Crichton en DCINE (II)

Thank you, Erik!

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Monday, April 6, 2009

And Possibly More to Come...

Take note of this quote from the article Posthumous Crichton Novels on the Way:

Ms. Nesbit said that Mr. Crichton left “many, many electronic files,” and that there could well be other novels or unfinished material. “We haven’t begun to really go through it all,” she said.

So who knows what else may be there? In an online discussion in Nov. 2005, I asked Michael Crichton if there would ever be a sequel to Travels. He said:

Actually, I have been trying to get a sequel to Travels finished for quite some time.
I don't know how it happened but it has been almost twenty years since that book...

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Newsflash--Two Crichton Novels to be Published

Michael Crichton fans will eventually have two new books to read.

According to a New York Times article, Posthumous Crichton Novels on the Way, an adventure novel titled Pirate Latitudes which in set in Jamaica in the 17th century, will be published on Nov. 24.

According to the article "The new novel, discovered by Mr. Crichton’s assistant in the writer’s computer files after his death, features a pirate named Hunter and the governor of Jamaica, and their plan to raid a Spanish treasure galleon."

Harper Collins will also publish a technological thriller Crichton had started writing. Only a third of the novel was completed so the publisher, Crichton's agent Lynn Nesbit, and his estate plan to find an author to finish the novel based on Crichton's notes and plan to publish the novel in the fall of 2010.

From the article:

Ms. Nesbit said that Mr. Crichton was “the most private of all authors that I have ever met in my life,” and that he never showed his agent or his editor any material before he had a complete draft. She said that other than the general category of technological thriller, she had no idea what the incomplete novel was about.

Ms. Nesbit said that she and Mr. Burnham had discussed some possible co-writers, but no decision had been made. She added that any selection would be made in collaboration with Sherri Crichton, Mr. Crichton’s widow, acting on behalf of his estate.

I had assumed his new novel for Harper Collins was finished. (See Michael Crichton's New Book ) I do recall Michael Crichton saying in an interview that once he had completed his research and notes, the actual writing of a novel took only a few months.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ER Series Finale – April 2, 2009

ER, the hit medical TV show that Michael Crichton created will air its final show in a two-hour series finale on Thursday, April 2, at 8 p.m. EST.

Michael Crichton wrote the pilot for ER, which premiered September 19, 1994 and ran for 15 seasons.

Crichton website ER page

Official ER website on NBC

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New on Crichton's Website: "Remembering Michael"

Michael Crichton’s official website has a new “In Memoriam page” with an added section “Remembering Michael” with remembrances from Steven Spielberg, Ray Bradbury, and a few others.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Michael Crichton on His Epitaph

Here’s something that brought a lump to my throat. On Amazon, there’s a short interview with Michael Crichton:

Michael Crichton – Significant Seven
(scroll down)

Here are two of Michael’s answers:

Amazon: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
Michael Crichton: I don't want an epitaph. If forced, I would say "Why Are You Here? Go Live Your Life."

Amazon: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
Michael Crichton: Benjamin Franklin

I like to think that Michael Crichton and Benjamin Franklin are having a high old time right now.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Michael Crichton's Last Interview - Dennis Miller

Michael Crichton was on Dennis Miller's radio show on June 18, 2008. It's available on Crichton's website:

It's a brief interview but Crichton talked about State of Fear and Al Gore. Who knew Dennis Miller was a Crichton fan? Miller had some hilarious and intelligent things to say about Crichton's work. I'm so grateful to him for providing the interview. For most of us, it's the last opportunity we had to hear Michael Crichton's voice.

Visit Dennis Miller's Website!

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Letter to Michael Crichton - Next

November 21, 2006

Dear Dr. Crichton,

I’m happily looking forward to the release of Next. This is the 15th novel and 20th book you have published under your own name. I wonder how you feel when a book of yours is released. Has the experience changed for you over the years? Do you feel excited, and do you look forward to the responses? Is it a distraction from whatever you’re working on currently? Do you dread it somewhat because it means appearing in public? On 20/20 you mentioned that you would never appear in public if you could help it. You’re only making three public appearances for Next, and they are all on the East Coast, to the great dismay of the members of message board on your website.

One reason I’m looking forward to the release of Next is because the message board badly needs some fresh meat (and fresh tofu for the vegetarians). I’ve been on the message board for almost two years. It’s become an online home and I’ve made several friends through the board. A few have become very good friends who I talk with on the phone from time to time. It’s a wondrous thing that people from all over the world can find a point of focus that allows them to connect and bond with each other. And the administrator does an outstanding job moderating the discussions and making the board a delight place to visit.

But the most valuable thing about the message board is how it has helped me to focus my writing. It gives me a chance to write things others can read and respond to, and that has sparked my writing in other venues as well. The message board has an encouraging and inspiring atmosphere, and I bless you for providing it.

My favorite of all your books is Travels, and I understand you are writing a sequel. Since Travels was released in 1988, it would be nice if the sequel could be released 20 years later in 2008.

Though I have to tell you there was one part of Travels I did not like. It is on p. 228 (hardcover edition) when you were directing a film and you took away that poor little rattlesnake’s parasol and it almost got cooked by the sun.

You bully.

Respectfully yours,

Marla Warren

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Letter to Michael Crichton - State of Fear

April 17, 2005

Dear Dr. Crichton,

On State of Fear and the State of Science

Like all your novels, I bought State of Fear the day it came out, and enjoyed it greatly. One of my favorite parts was the annotated bibliography. I read mostly non-fiction, so when I read a fiction book or see a feature film, I start looking for non-fiction books related to the subject. I just finished Beckerman’s A Poverty of Reason and am currently reading Wildavsky’s Searching for Safety. For me, fiction is like dessert—it’s nice to have from time to time, but I can’t sustain myself on it.

What surprises me is how some people can’t discuss State of Fear or global warming calmly. They get angry at any questioning of global warming—as though it is a foregone conclusion. I myself think it’s healthy to have my assumptions challenged on a regular basis. It seems rather than utilizing science as an independent and objective basis on which to formulate policy, it has for many become a tool to justify and promote an already reached conclusion. A professor of mine retired earlier than he had planned, giving as his reason that “I cannot stomach what passes for knowledge these days.”

A few years ago, I taught a survey of science course at a tech-vocational college. For most of the students, this was probably the last science class they would have. What I wanted them to take away from it was a good understanding of the scientific method, some healthy skepticism, and a few critical thinking skills. The first night I wrote on the board, “How do you know what you think you know?” I held up a bottle of Echinacea and asked the class what it does. One student replied, “It strengthens your immune system.” Then I read the disclaimer on the bottle—“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” I went on to talk about double-blind testing, statistical evidence versus anecdotal evidence, and how correlation does not equal causality. In later classes, we examined the problems of bias in research, and one of their projects was to come up with a hypothesis and design a study that would objectively test it. One thing I required was that any Internet sources had to be approved. People don’t often realize that the Internet is a playground for conspiracy theorists. I stressed that people should not hesitate to question anything, and should demand evidence for conclusions being presented as facts. When the course was done, one student told me, “You’ve changed the way I look at the world.”

I admire you greatly for the way you challenge your readers and make them think. That’s not just entertainment—that’s an invaluable service to our society.

Everybody has an agenda except you and me. And possibly my cats.

Respectfully yours,

Marla Warren

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Letter to Michael Crichton - Travels

(I wrote three letters to Michael Crichton. After the first letter, he sent me a gracious note and an autographed photo. I didn't expect a response to the other letters as he was a very busy man.)

March 17, 2005

Dear Dr. Crichton,

This letter is not about State of Fear. I’m sure you’re hearing quite enough about it these days. But I have to say thank you for the annotated bibliography. I work at a bookstore in Illinois, and I was able to order some of the books for our store. State of Fear is selling well here.

Working in a bookstore is blissful, and one of the best things is being able to promote my favorite writers. When customers who have read The Da Vinci Code ask me for recommendations, I suggest Timeline. I’ve sold several copies of Timeline this way. One of the customers came back and bought State of Fear. I’ve also sold several copies of Travels.

Reading your books has always been a pleasure—reading Travels was a joy. First of all, because of the many places you have been. The travel writing section of the bookstore is one of my favorites, because I have not yet been able to travel as much as I would like. (Although my copy of Timeline did get to go to Spain and Morocco with a friend of mine.) I found the tales of your adventures fascinating and often very humorous. You are much funnier than I would have guessed from your fiction. I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading Travels.

But what impressed me most about the book is your passion for life and for ideas. I find that delightful. It’s a quality too few people have. I admire the way you challenge yourself, and bravely explore not only the outer world, but your own inner world as well. I love the candor with which you see yourself and the willingness to write honestly about it. I think Travels is a very courageous book. It’s clear from reading your other books that you possess great intelligence. Travels shows that you also possess wisdom. Those two things don’t go together nearly often enough.

I read Travels when it came out in 1988, and I read it again recently. I was surprised at how deeply I was affected by it this time. It was as though I had not read it before. But I was 25 when I first read the book, and I am 42 now. Perhaps a little maturity has brought some perspective.

I am planning on naming my next cat in your honor. Current cats are named Akira (after Kurosawa) and Asimov (after Isaac Asimov). I look forward to reading more of your writing. May your dreams come true.

Respectfully yours,

Marla Warren

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

MacWorld tribute to Michael Crichton

Here's a tribute from MacWorld. Michael Crichton said on several occasions that he was a Mac user. The tribute was written by someone who exchanged emails with Michael:

I was deeply saddened to read of the passing of Michael Crichton, at the way-too-young age of 66. Michael was an amazingly talented individual, as evidenced by his background—a Harvard-educated medical doctor who wrote The Andromeda Strain while still in medical school, and then wrote (and directed the movie version of) The Great Train Robbery...

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stephen King Tribute to Michael Crichton

In the 2008 Year-End Special issue of Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King wrote this about Michael Crichton:

"As a pop novelist, he was divine. A Crichton book was a headlong experience driven by a man who was both a natural storyteller and fiendishly clever when it came to verisimilitude; he made you believe that cloning dinosaurs wasn’t just over the horizon but possible tomorrow. Maybe today."

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tribute from a Student of Michael Crichton's

Here's a wonderful tribute from a student of Michael Crichton's:

In Memoriam: Michael Crichton

I've been a fan of Michael Crichton for a unique reason - I was one of about 10 students who took a writing seminar he taught at MIT in Spring, 1988. I think the class was named "The Art of Revision"...


Links and more info on Michael Crichton at:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Odds On

I’m very happy to report that my Michael Crichton book collection is now complete. I received the only book I was missing as a Christmas present. Odds On was the first book Michael Crichton ever published, under the name of John Lange. The copyright is 1966, third printing.

Front cover –
“The Riviera sizzles with sex and suspense as three thieves and one computer ignite the crime of the century.”

Inside front cover –
“The Americans needed a cover.

Lone men were too conspicuous. So they decided each would pick up a girl and mingle with the crowd.

There was Jenny, a rich wench who wanted to be loved for her body alone. Cynthia, a talented nympho who liked marijuana and men—and took them together. Annette, a working girl whose best jobs came after hours.

For the three Americans these females were extracurricular. The real interest was the hotel haul that would net them a million dollars in jewels, cash, and traveler’s checks. It was a brilliantly conceived crime, masterminded by a modern computer. But when they fed the data into the machine that would tell them what to do and when to do it, they forgot the biggest risk of all. The women.”

The same on the back cover except for the last sentence:
"But when they fed the data into the machine that would tell them what to do and when to do it, they forgot one risk factor no computer could handle--SEX.”

On page 5 we see that Crichton started his tradition of beginning his novels with quotes with this book:

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

There are 15 chapters, but like many of Crichton’s other novels, the chapters are designated by date rather than number:

Saturday, June Fourteenth (pp. 9-16)
Sunday, June Fifteenth (pp.17-26)
Monday, June Sixteenth (pp. 27-41)
Tuesday, June Seventeenth (pp. 43-55)
Night, June Seventeenth (pp. 57-79)
Wednesday, June Eighteenth (pp. 81-101)
Thursday, June Nineteenth (pp. 103-128)
Friday, June Twentieth (pp. 129-139)
Afternoon, June Twentieth (pp. 141-153)
Saturday morning, June Twenty-First (pp. 155-162)
Afternoon, June Twenty-First (pp. 163-170)
Night, June Twenty-First (pp. 171-175)
Sunday Morning, June Twenty-Second (12:00-1:00 a.m.) (pp. 177-181)
Morning, June Twenty-Second (1:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon) (pp. 183-203)
Afternoon, June Twenty-Second (pp. 205-215)

The timespan of the novel is just a little more than a week, another similarity to Crichton’s later novels. I remember Crichton saying that he had to write the John Lange books very quickly and perhaps that was a factor in the characteristic short timespan and rapid pace of his novels.

I’m already seeing a theme of Crichton’s later work – the limits of control and predictability. I’m not going to blog on this as I read it—I prefer to absorb the book on the first reading and read it again before blogging on it. But I will discuss the book here eventually.

Links and more info on Michael Crichton at: