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: