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.

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