Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Michael Crichton Christmas 2011

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 Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the third day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the fourth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the fifth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the sixth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the seventh day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Seven States a-Fearing
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the eighth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Eight Airframes crashing
Seven States a-Fearing
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the ninth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Nine E.R.s in peril
Eight Airframes crashing
Seven States a-Fearing
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the tenth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Ten Congos drumming
Nine E.R.s in peril
Eight Airframes crashing
Seven States a-Fearing
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the eleventh day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Eleven Spheres a-humming
Ten Congos drumming
Nine E.R.s in peril
Eight Airframes crashing
Seven States a-Fearing
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

On the Next day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Twelve Micros munching
Eleven Spheres a-humming
Ten Congos drumming
Nine E.R.s in peril
Eight Airframes crashing
Seven States a-Fearing
Six Prey a-fleeing
Five Eaters of the Dead
Four Timelines
Three Lost Worlds
Two Jasper Johns
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

I wrote the original version of this on December 22, 2007. I intended it to be a fun treat for the holidays. With Michael Crichton's untimely death, it's poignant to think about what he gave us.

In 2009 I revised “A Michael Crichton Christmas” to include Pirate Latitudes. My good friend Erik and his friend Angel, with some help from their families, created a video based on it.



It’s amazing and I can’t believe they put all that work into it! Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Best of Musings on Michael Crichton


For those who work in retail, the phrase “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” has a very different meaning. I’ll write more about Micro as soon as I come up for air.

In the meantime, enjoy our ten most popular posts:

Pirate Latitudes – Matanceros
This is overwhelming the most popular post I’ve ever written.

The Origin of Pirate Latitudes – Part 1

The Origins of Pirate Latitudes - Part 2

What Michael Crichton Said About Micro

Micro Cover Revealed!

Pirate Latitudes - Additional Reading List

Interview – “Travels of Michael Crichton”

Michael Crichton’s Recommended Reading

Michael Crichton Artwork – Quoted by Joseph Kosuth

Stephen King Tribute to Michael Crichton

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 12/11/11


What was the original title of “ER”?

Last week’s trivia question:

Which of Michael Crichton’s novels is the longest? And which is the shortest?

First, let me clarify that the question concerned only the novels Michael Crichton published under his own name. Length was determined by the number of pages in the first edition hardcovers.

The longest Crichton novel, Dan answered correctly, is State of Fear (2004) with 603 pages.

Charles Epting gets credit for identifying the shortest Crichton novel -- Eaters of the Dead (1976) with 193 pages.

Remember to vote for your favorite photos in the Micro Yourself Photo Contest!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

What’s Up with Micro


Michael Crichton’s Last Stand
What the Jurassic Park author’s posthumous novel Micro tells us about how scientists talk to the public.
By David Guston, Slate, Dec. 5, 2011

Micro: The new Gulliver’s travel adventure
By Neil Lee Ambasing, Sun Star Baguio, Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Michael Crichton's 'Micro' is a major success
By Sean Quinn, Staff Writer, The Setonian, December 7, 2011



Remember to vote for your favorite photos in the Micro Yourself Photo Contest!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 12/4/11


Which of Michael Crichton’s novels is the longest? And which is the shortest?

Last week’s trivia question:

“Numquam Obliviscemur Michaelis Crichtonis”

What does this phrase mean and what is its significance?

Samir answered:
All I know is 'Numquam Obliviscemur' translated from Latin is 'Never Forget', so the basic translation is 'Never Forget Michael Crichton'


Correct! As for the significance of the phrase, it’s concealed in one of the maps in the new novel Micro. See if you can find it.

Mortuus sed non oblitus.

Remember to vote for your favorite photos in the Micro Yourself Photo Contest!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Micro Yourself Photo Contest


Finally finished my entry for the Micro Yourself Photo Contest.

Do butterflies have teeth??!!

Take a look and see what you think. I would greatly appreciate any votes for my photo, should you deem it worthy. I had fun creating it.

And there are many fabulous photos in this contest. Here are some I found particularly impressive. (I used to work as a photographer, so I’m looking at them from that point of view.)

Daniel Owens – Making my way through Travels

Gunner Geezer - Flea, Myself and I

Trent Ford - Atomic Tennis!!!

Belinda Kay Snow – Soothing Our Wild Beast

Jason Thornton - Myself contemplating upon a quote from Jasper Johns…

Graham Bradley - My best version

Kevin H. - Avoid spiders and frogs while climbing

Aaron TheIcon Spriggs - Not only did I shrink, but I went back in time…

Brad Hesse – Micro-Managing Money

Melody Scott - Strange things from the deep!

C.S Skates - Tiny Dancer

Carl Scott - Man, I hope that's decaf!

Melissa Lucero Diaz - Who say's little brother's aren't pests?

According to the rules of the contest:

Voting Period: Up to Fifty (50) Finalists eligible for the grand prize, first prize, second prize, and third prize winners will be selected by public voting from among the eligible entries. The voting period will begin at 9:00AM (ET) on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 and end at 11:59pm on Tuesday, December 20, 2011. Users will be able to vote for each submission only once and should base their vote on the following criteria: i) how successful the photo is at making its subject look miniaturized; and ii) creativity and originality.

Judging Period: A team of HarperCollins employees will deliberate over the finalists chosen via public voting from December 20th, 2011 – January 4, 2012, and one (1) grand prize winner, one (1) first prize winner, five (5) second prize winners and twenty (20) third prize winners will be selected from the fifty (50) finalists on or about January 5, 2011. Judges will evaluate the photos based on the following criteria: i) how successful the photo is at making its subject look miniaturized; ii) creativity and originality; and iii) how well the photo captures the spirit of Michael Crichton’s body of work.


So if you can make it into the top 50 based on votes, you’ve got a shot at the Grand Prize. The judges take it from there.

Good luck to everyone who entered!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Micro in the News


Micro has been in the news quite a bit lately. I didn’t read or post links to any of the articles prior to reading the book as I wanted to avoid spoilers.

INFORMATIVE PIECES
These articles and programs explore how Micro came into being and include quotes from Richard Preston.

Wall Street Journal – “Deciphering Michael Crichton's Clues”

The Telegraph – “Michael Crichton and the Mystery of the Posthumous Thriller”

USA TODAY – “The Novel Crichton Started, Longtime Fan Preston Finished”

NPR Weekend Edition – Interview with Richard Preston

BOOK REVIEWS

The Telegraph – Mark Sanderson

Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

Los Angeles Times - Jeff VanderMeer

NPR - Alan Cheuse

Amazon - James Rollins

Publishers Weekly

Entertainment Weekly - Keith Staskiewicz

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NPR Interview with Richard Preston



Richard Preston appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition today and spoke of the challenge of finishing Michael Crichton’s novel Micro. The interview is [5:58].

Michael Crichton Trivia – 11/27/11


“Numquam Obliviscemur Michaelis Crichtonis”

What does this phrase mean and what is its significance?

Last week’s trivia question:

What book did Michael Crichton write on a bet?

Charles Epting said:
“Eaters of the Dead, wasn't it?”

Correct, Charles!

From the official Crichton website:
“The story behind this novel appears in an essay in the paperback edition. The short version is, I wrote EATERS on a bet that I could make an entertaining story out of "Beowulf."
Note from Michael

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Micro – First Thoughts


Just a few thoughts for now. As I wrote Thursday, Micro is the most enjoyable Crichton novel since Prey.

I was very happy to read the introduction Michael Crichton wrote, even if it was unfinished. I always wished he wrote more nonfiction.

By the end of Micro, I knew I wasn’t reading a Michael Crichton novel anymore. But I was enthralled by the story, and didn’t care. (How I knew I wasn’t reading a Michael Crichton novel is a discussion I’ll save for another time.)

The novel has been compared to Jurassic Park, even by Michael Crichton himself. But Micro is far more reminiscent of Timeline than Jurassic Park or Prey.

Micro is like a ship that changes direction so gently that you don’t notice. Then dawn comes and the sun rises in a different spot than expected.

You can gripe about the change or you can enjoy the sunrise.

Richard Preston took over as captain of Micro after Michael Crichton died. As the new captain, he had to sail the ship as best he could, using the former captain’s log to navigate.

Captain Preston gave the passengers a pleasantly exciting voyage, and then brought the ship safely into harbor.

What more could one ask?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Musings!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We have much to be thankful for with the release of Micro. I’m still collecting my thoughts on the book, but I will say that I found it the most enjoyable Crichton novel since Prey.

Here’s a post I wrote for last year’s Thanksgiving:

Michael Crichton – Favorite Holiday Recipes

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Micro Has Escaped!


Today Micro has escaped, and may be sneaking into your home as you read this. Micro will creep up to you and settle under your skin. (Makes you itch just thinking about it, doesn’t it?) Symptoms of Micro infection include obsessive reading and temporarily diminished internet activity.

It will probably take me a day to read Micro, so I’ll be posting about it sometime tomorrow. I’ll also post links to the various reviews and articles about the novel.

For those of you in the New York area, a reminder that Richard Preston will be making an appearance at the Barnes & Noble at 86th & Lexington Ave:

“Science journalist Jonathan Weiner joins Richard Preston, bestselling author of scientific works of narrative nonfiction and fiction, to discuss the iconic works of Michael Crichton, including his posthumous new release, Micro. Tuesday November 22, 2011 7:00 PM”
Video of this event will be available soon.

I am now going into seclusion to read my copy of Micro. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 11/20/11


What book did Michael Crichton write on a bet?

Last week’s trivia question:

Did any of Michael Crichton’s books win awards?

Two of Michael Crichton’s books won awards. A Case of Need (written under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson) won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel in 1969. Five Patients won the Association of American Medical Writers Award in 1970.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Richard Preston Appearance in New York


From Richard Preston’s Facebook page:
I'll be doing an appearance and book signing in NYC on Tue Nov 22:
7:00-8:00pm
Barnes & Noble
86th + Lexington Ave.
150 East 86th Street
New York, NY 10028

I'll be talking with Pulitzer-Prize author Jonathan Weiner about MICRO and writing. Come visit, I'd like to meet you!


The sound you hear emanating from the Midwest is my cry of frustration. I would so love to be there. But I'll be home reading my copy of Micro.

I’m hoping there will be video of the event. (Don’t make me beg…OH PLEEEZE!!!!)

On the plus side, my comments to Preston’s blog are now posted there. Join the conversation!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More about Micro


We have a little more info about Micro. While I very much want to read the book now, I wouldn’t have the time even if I got a hold of a copy. But I cleared my calendar for a few days starting next Tuesday, so I’ll have the chance to devour and digest Micro. Stay tuned!

Micro contains:

• Maps of Oahu on the endpapers (as Pirate Latitudes had maps)

• One epigraph by E. O. Wilson

• A unfinished introduction by Michael Crichton, dated 8/28/08

• A five-page bibliography (Hurrah! I was hoping for one!)

And here’s a little morsel to hold us for now:

The audio edition of Micro, is read by John Bedford Lloyd. Harper Collins UK has a brief audio sample featuring the Wilson epigraph and some of Crichton’s introduction.

Six days until Micro….

Monday, November 14, 2011

Michael Crichton on Filming The Andromeda Strain


Here’s a treasure I uncovered recently through Google News Archives.

“Author Strained by Movie”
By Michael Crichton for the Associated Press, The Victoria Advocate, March 22, 1971

Editor’s note – A novelist often has enough trouble with words. But his difficulties really begin when his words have to be translated to film. Michael Crichton, author of the popular “The Andromeda Strain” describes what it is like to have his book made into a movie.

Crichton writes in the first paragraph:

"The people involved just shrug their shoulders: of course there will be problems. You can expect them, you can count on them. Making a film is one long process of being surprised—by tough things that turn out to be easy, and easy things that turn out to be nightmares."


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 11/12/11


Did any of Michael Crichton’s books win awards?

Last week’s trivia question:

Michael Crichton wrote and directed several films. Which films did he direct, but did not write the screenplay?

Dustin Pitan wrote:

Physical Evidence I believe is the only one. Granted, he didn't receive a screenplay credit on Pursuit, but I believe I've read he had a large hand in writing that.


Partially correct, Dustin. The screenplay for Physical Evidence was written by Bill Phillips, with the story credited to Steve Ransohoff and Bill Phillips.

As for Pursuit, while the screenplay was based on the John Lange novel Binary, Robert Dozier received sole credit for writing the screenplay.

So the correct answer is Pursuit and Physical Evidence.

Ten days until Micro….

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

While You’re Waiting for Micro…


While you're waiting for Micro, I would suggest reading Richard Preston's 1997 novel The Cobra Event. Excellent read, plus it’s a way to acclimatize to Preston’s style before reading Micro.

From Publisher’s Weekly review of The Cobra Event:

“this exciting tale of bioengineered viruses on the rampage leans on the sort of cool, fact-packed prose usually associated with nonfiction--or with the sort of cautionary science thriller aced by Michael Crichton. Like Crichton, who's an obvious influence, Preston knows how to explode from the gate: his opening, in which a schoolgirl attacked by an unknown virus spasms and bleeds and eats her own lip, will plunge readers into shock.”


14 days until Micro...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 11/5/11


Michael Crichton wrote and directed several films. Which films did he direct, but not write the screenplay?

Last week’s trivia question:
Michael Crichton’s 1972 novel The Terminal Man had a different name originally. What was it?

The Sympathetic Man.

Sources:

“Mike Crichton: A Skyscraper in Any Form”, by Norma Lee Browning, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 30, 1970

“For Michael Crichton, Medicine is for Writing” by John Noble Wilford, New York Times, June 15, 1970

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton – Part 11


2001-2008

Timeline

2002: Crichton publishes Prey.

2004: Crichton publishes State of Fear.

2006: Crichton publishes Next.

2008: Michael Crichton, having finished one-third of his novel Micro, dies of cancer on November 4 at the age of 66.

Where were you when you heard the news?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton – Part 10


1996-2000

Timeline:

1996: Crichton publishes Airframe. The film Twister (co-written by Crichton with then-wife Anne-Marie Martin) is released.

1999: Crichton publishes Timeline.

2000: Crichton creates the computer game Timeline (based on his novel).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton – Part 9


1991-1995

Timeline
1992: Crichton publishes Rising Sun.

1994: Crichton publishes Disclosure. Crichton creates the TV series ER. Crichton published a revised, expanded edition of Jasper Johns.

1995: Crichton publishes The Lost World. Time magazine publishes a cover story on Michael Crichton in the September 25 issue. Crichton receives Academy Technical Achievement Award ("for pioneering computerized motion picture budgeting and scheduling")

The Life of Michael Crichton – Part 8


1986-1990

Timeline:
1987: Crichton publishes Sphere.

1988: Crichton publishes his autobiography Travels.

1989: The film Physical Evidence (directed by Crichton) is released.

1990: Crichton publishes Jurassic Park.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton – Part 7


1981-1985

Timeline

1981: The film Looker (written and directed by Crichton) is released.

1982: Crichton creates the computer game Amazon.

1983: Crichton publishes Electronic Life: How to Think About Computers.

1984: The film Runaway (written and directed by Crichton) is released.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Micro News



From Richard Preston’s blog:
Micro Enhanced E-book


HarperCollins will release an enhanced e-book edition of MICRO. Yesterday a film crew was here at my house shooting an interview with me for the e-book. In it, I talk about poking around the rain forest on Oahu, learning the biology of micro-monsters, and doing the detective work with Michael’s notebooks and materials, figuring out what Michael intended for the story. There will be footage of Michael, and lots of scientific stuff, too. Good for an iPad or Kindle Fire or Nook, etc.


Richard Preston has a page on Facebook. I “like” Richard Preston. Now you can “like” him, too.

Micro review on Amazon
Author James Rollins has written a review of Micro for Amazon.

It's nice that he gave the much anticipated book a good review, but I'm disappointed that Harper Collins let him review Micro so far ahead of its release. (Which has not been the case with Michael Crichton's recent novels--reviews have not been published prior to the day of the book's release.) Perhaps Harper Collins feels less secure that Crichton's readers will want to read a novel that he himself was unable to finish.

I myself don't need to read a review to decide to read anything by Michael Crichton (or, for that matter, anything by Richard Preston). I won't read this review or any others before I read Micro.

Reviews tend to contain spoilers, which is why I’m not linking to the Amazon review. I’m officially declaring this blog a Micro spoiler-free zone. (So please don’t post anything until after the novel is released.)

Let’s Get Small!
Harper Collins is celebrating the release of Micro with a fun contest.

MICRO Yourself: The Photo Contest

To enter, you submit up to three photos of yourself in micro size, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 6. The public will vote for their favorites, and the top 50 will make it to the finals. A team of judges from Harper Collins will select the final winners.

List of Prizes:

Grand Prize
- Limited edition leather-bound copies of Jurassic Park and The Lost World from The Easton Press. Jurassic Park is signed by Michael Crichton himself and includes a certificate of authenticity!

- An e-reader of your choice (iPad2 Wi-Fi, any Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or Sony reader, etc.) with a $100 gift certificate to the corresponding e-book retailer

- One limited edition Micro tee-shirt

- One hardcover copy of Micro

First Prize
- An e-reader of your choice (iPad2 Wi-Fi, any Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or Sony reader, etc.) with a $100 gift certificate to the corresponding e-book retailer

- One limited edition Micro tee-shirt

- One hardcover copy of Micro

Second Prize
- One hardcover copy of Micro

- One limited edition Micro tee-shirt

Third Prize
- One hardcover copy of Micro

- One mass market paperback edition each of the following books: The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Eaters of the Dead, The Great Train Robbery, Next, Pirate Latitudes, Prey, Sphere, State of Fear, and The Terminal Man

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton - Part 6


1976-1980

Timeline
1976: Crichton publishes Eaters of the Dead.

1977: Crichton publishes Jasper Johns, a catalogue on the artist.

1978: The film Coma, written and directed by Crichton (based on the novel by Robin Cook), is released.

1979: The film The Great Train Robbery, written and directed by Crichton (based on his 1975 novel) is released.

1980: Crichton publishes Congo.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/29/11


Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/29/11

Here’s a tough one:

Michael Crichton’s 1972 novel The Terminal Man had a different name originally. What was it?

Last week’s trivia question:
On his blog, Richard Preston said that Micro will contain two maps. What other Michael Crichton novels contain maps?

The Andromeda Strain, The Lost World, Timeline, and Pirate Latitudes contain maps.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton - Part 5


1971-1975


Timeline
1971: Crichton wins the Edgar award for the John Lange novel Grave Descend. Insight TV series episode "The War of the Eggs", written by Crichton, airs.

1972: Crichton publishes The Terminal Man and the John Lange novel Binary. He directs his first film, Pursuit, a TV movie based on Binary. Insight TV series episode "Killer", written by Crichton, airs.

1973: The film Westworld, written and directed by Crichton, is released. The film Extreme Close-Up (aka Sex Through a Window) written by Crichton is released.

1974: Insight TV series episode "Killer", written by Crichton, airs.

1975: Crichton publishes The Great Train Robbery.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton - Part 4


1966-1970

Timeline
1966: Crichton publishes his first book, Odds On, under the name “John Lange”.

1967: Crichton publishes Scratch One under the name “John Lange”.

1968: Crichton publishes Easy Go (later republished as The Last Tomb) under the name “John Lange”. He publishes A Case of Need under the name “Jeffery Hudson”.

1969: Crichton publishes The Andromeda Strain, his first book under his own name. He graduates from Harvard Medical School. He receives the Edgar award for A Case of Need. Crichton publishes two John Lange novels - Zero Cool and The Venom Business.

1969-1970: Crichton moves to California – works at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences as a research fellow.

1970: Crichton publishes Five Patients under his own name. He publishes Dealing: Or the Berkley to Boston Forty-Brick Lost Bag Blues under the pseudonym “Michael Douglas”. The novel was a collaborative effort with his brother Douglas. Crichton publishes two more John Lange novels – Drug of Choice and Grave Descend.

The Life of Michael Crichton - Part 3


(I apologize for not getting these posts up when I had planned. The delay was unavoidable. technology...sigh)
1961-1965

Michael Crichton started at Harvard with the intention of majoring in English and becoming a writer. But he thought the professors were grading him too hard, and decided to test his hypothesis by submitting a George Orwell essay as his own for an assignment. When the Orwell essay received a B-, Crichton decided to change his major to anthropology. In 1964, he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in physical anthropology.

According to the 1964 Harvard College yearbook, Crichton was in Lowell House and his activities included the Crimson, Harvard Review, Hasty Pudding, and baseball.

(I was surprised to see baseball listed. I knew Crichton played basketball, but I've never heard of him playing baseball before.)

Timeline

1964: Crichton graduates summa cum laude from Harvard College – A.B. in physical anthropology.

1964 – 1965: Crichton is a Henry Shaw Travelling Fellow
Shaw Fellowships provide a year of purposeful postgraduate travel in Europe for Harvard students to supplement their formal education.

1965: Crichton is a visiting lecturer in Anthropology at Cambridge University, King’s College.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life of Michael Crichton - Part 2


1956-1960

Michael Crichton attended Roslyn High School on Long Island, graduating in 1960. He visited the school in 1995.

Crichton was a basketball player, and his three school records still stand:

1. Most Rebounds in a Game
2. Highest Rebound Averge per Game
3. Highest Field Goal Shooting Percentage in a Season

The basketball coach, Joe Lettera, said, “He didn't need basketball, but it was just one more challenge for him to overcome."

Crichton’s freshman English teacher Eileen Bennett said, “"Even as a freshman, he would take disparate ideas and come up with conclusions that no one else, including his teacher, had thought of."

Encouraged by his parents, Crichton wrote a travel article “Climbing Up a Cinder Cone” about Sunset Crater National Monument. He sold the article to the New York Times when he was 14. The article was published on May 17, 1959, when Crichton was 16.

Timeline
1959: Michael Crichton’s article “Climbing Up a Cinder Cone” is published in the New York Times
.
1960: Michael Crichton graduates from Roslyn High School.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Life of Michael Crichton - Part 1


1942-1956


Today would have been Michael Crichton’s 69th birthday. To honor him, we will explore his life, starting today, October 23, and ending on November 4, 2011, the third anniversary of his death.

Michael Crichton was born John Michael Crichton on October 23, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. While his father was in the Navy during World War II, the family moved to Fort Morgan, Colorado. After the war, the family moved to Roslyn, Long Island, New York, where Crichton grew up.

His father, John Henderson Crichton, was the president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies for 15 years, and when he died in 1977, he merited an obituary in the New York Times. Michael Crichton wrote about his father’s death in his autobiography Travels. Crichton’s father was 6’5”, and was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 1978. He was a journalist and editor, which influenced his son to become a writer.

Here’s a video of John H. Crichton interviewing advertising great David Ogilvy in 1977.

Crichton’s mother, Zula Miller Crichton, was described by her son as a “very dedicated parent and very encouraging to her children…She was very interested in all kinds of art, and would drag her kids to museums and plays at least once a week.” She would take Michael out of school to attend classes on modern art. Zula Miller Crichton died earlier this year.

Crichton had three younger siblings—brother Douglas, and two sisters, Kimberly and Catherine. His brother co-wrote the novel Dealing: Or the Berkley to Boston Forty-Brick Lost Bag Blues (1970). Michael and Douglas used the pseudonym “Michael Douglas”. The back cover of the hardcover edition of the novel has a photo showing the brothers as boys.

Michael Crichton wrote a nine-page puppet play for a third grade class assignment, which seems to be his first creative work. He also mentioned writing “long short stories in the sixth grade.”

Michael Crichton - biography

Michael Crichton – For Younger Readers

Michael Crichton: Private View

Travels by Michael Crichton

“Michael Crichton (rhymes with frighten)” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, Jun 8, 1969

Obituary - John H. Crichton, New York Times, Dec. 28, 1977

Obituary - John H. Crichton, Advertising Age, Jan. 2, 1978

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Carrie White on Michael Crichton


In a previous post, I mentioned that Michael Crichton’s hairdresser Carrie White had published her memoir Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life.

Carrie White cut Michael Crichton’s hair for 38 years. If we do the math, that means she began cutting his hair around 1970. Anyone fortunate enough to have a longtime hairdresser knows the relationship is a sacred trust. I would more willing change doctors or dentists before I changed hairdressers.

Here’s a photo of Michael Crichton in 1969, before Carrie White got her scissors on him.




And here’s a photo of him after White was doing his hair.



White shared some of her memories of Michael Crichton in an essay for USAToday. She tells how she ended up doing Genevieve Bujold's hair for the film Coma, which Michael Crichton directed.



White writes:

Through the following years, I always booked extra time for Michael's haircuts, so we could have a good visit. He'd tell me about his travels to Borneo or some other place I would never go to, about the latest science discoveries, and about his art interests, from Jasper Johns to Oldenburg. In return, I'd tell him stories about Sunset Strip, about getting high with Hendrix, and about my travels…on peyote at Joshua Tree.

Even though he knew I had started working on my memoir in 1989, I never tried to talk to him about my writing aspirations. I knew everyone was always focused on that subject with him. The salon was his freedom space.


White shows herself to be a true professional in this (something I never doubted, given her list of clients). I’ve known people who’ve worked with celebrities. Two cardinal rules:

1. Don’t gossip about them.
2. Don’t ask them for anything.

Celebrities have to deal with so many people either wanting something or invading their privacy. So they want to be around people who can be trusted to respect boundaries. Carrie White was quite correct not to approach Crichton about her writing. And then:

But one day, when he heard me tell a client that I'd completed my memoir, he surprised me. "When do I get to read something?"

Excited, I emailed him the first part, Pacoima. He wrote me back. "I like it. Let me see the whole book."


Crichton contacted his longtime agent Lynn Nesbit on White’s behalf. As she relates:

I was living on pins and needles for any news, but it was also time for Michael's haircut. I would have him in my chair and wait for him to bring up the subject…my book.

"I told Lynn that your book was witty and disturbing with its honesty and you'd be good on TV."


Nesbit wanted two-thirds of the manuscript cut before she would read it. So White took on the task of whittling down her manuscript:

There went the next year and a half. I went back to my book and did what I've been doing forever. Cut. It was like pulling only the lavender threads from a Chanel tweed suit. I pushed forward with Michael's photo from the back of his memoir Travels starring at me on my desk, and hearing his voice spurring me on, "Hey kid, you wanted to be a writer."


White paid tribute to Travels by using the first line of Crichton’s memoir as one of the epigraphs for Upper Cut.

Nesbit agreed to represent Carrie White in 2009, and Upper Cut was published September 20, 2011. Michael Crichton died on November 4, 2008. White writes:

Today, as my book, Upper Cut, is about to be released, I feel both joy and sorrow.

Michael would be so proud and happy.

I miss him so much. Every day.



One thing I wonder about….

In 1996, psychologist Richard Farson published Management of the Absurd: Paradoxes in Leadership. Michael Crichton, in a foreword to the book, wrote:

“The challenging book you are holding in your hands was written by a remarkable man. Richard Farson has been my friend for many years…He is one of the warmest, kindest, and most intriguing men I have ever met.”


I didn’t know Michael Crichton and so I will not presume to say what he might have done. But I wonder if he would have written a foreword for Carrie White’s memoir, and what he would have said.

Carrie White contacted me after I posted to Michael Crichton’s Facebook page. We’ve exchanged emails and I enjoy our friendship very much. She floored me by sending me a personally autographed copy of Upper Cut. (She also gave me permission to share a photo of her inscription.)



Being an advance proof, the book White inscribed to me contains a note on the copyright page declaring it to be the property of the publisher and a loan. The page also reads:

“Simon & Schuster reserves the right to cancel the loan and recall possession of the proof at any time.”


And I thought, “Over my dead body.”

Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/22/11


Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/22/11

On his blog, Richard Preston said that Micro will contain two maps. What other Michael Crichton novels contain maps?

Last week’s trivia question:

What do the novels Eaters of the Dead (1976), Rising Sun (1992), and Prey (2002) have in common?


Cdmeredith correctly answered, “They are all written in first person.”

Here’s an informative essay on writing in first person.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Micro UK Video Trailer and Excerpt


The marketing department at Harper Collins UK sent me the link for a video trailer for Micro. There’s also a 10-page excerpt of the novel.



I am happy to note that the UK release is on Nov. 22, the same date as the US. Two years ago, I threw a minor hissy fit when Pirate Latitudes was released in the UK and Europe eight days before being released in the US.

32 days until the release of Micro.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Richard Preston on Micro


Richard Preston, who completed Michael Crichton’s unfinished novel Micro, has been blogging about the project. He’s written four posts so far, and I’ve commented on three of them. There are no comments from anyone yet, so I’m assuming my comments are in comment moderation limbo for the time being. For my readers, I’m posting my comments here.

June 8, 2011
I’m working on Micro

Right now I’m polishing the final draft of MICRO. Should have it done in a few days. This has been a fun ride.


My comment:

I’m looking forward to reading Micro. When I heard that another writer would be finishing Michael Crichton’s final novel, I racked my brain thinking of who would be a good match. When your name was announced, I thought, “Perfect”. I didn’t think of you (even though I have admired your work for a long time and own several of your books) because you’ve written more nonfiction than fiction. But I realized that’s what made you a great fit to this project.


July 1, 2011
Added a scene

I’m polishing the manuscript for Micro, working with my editor at HarperCollins. I just added a “whoa!” scene — some cool visuals at a certain moment in the story.

For me, this kind of tinkering is one of the most fun parts of writing. The book’s almost done and looking good, and now I get to cherry it up.


My comment:

One thing that you and Michael Crichton share is the ability to write excellent descriptions.


August 2, 2011
Jacket cover available

HarperCollins has just released the jacket of MICRO. Here it is.


My comment:

The UK edition book cover has been released as well.
http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/Titles/49927/micro-michael-crichton-richard-preston-9780007350032


September 27, 2011
Maps in MICRO

We’re putting two maps in MICRO. With hand-drawn topography by a great cartographer. Just finalizing the maps today. I’ve hidden a tiny Latin inscription in one of the maps. Had to check my Latin with Princeton professor to make sure I got it right. Fortunately I did. This is the fun part of publishing.


More on Richard Preston soon.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/15/11


Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/15/11

What do the novels Eaters of the Dead (1976), Rising Sun (1992), and Prey (2002) have in common?

Last week’s trivia question:

It’s well-known that Michael Crichton graduated from Harvard Medical School. Where did he get his undergraduate degree and what was his major?

Bonus question: in what specialty did Crichton get his medical degree?


Steven correctly answered “Anthropology undergrad from Harvard” Crichton graduated summa cum laude with a degree in physical anthropology.

My Dec. 2009 post on a radio interview with Crichton’s longtime agent, Lynn Nesbit, noted that Nesbit revealed that Crichton’s medical degree from Harvard was in psychiatry.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/08/11


Michael Crichton Trivia – 10/08/11

It’s well-known that Michael Crichton graduated from Harvard Medical School. Where did he get his undergraduate degree and what was his major?

Bonus question: in what specialty did Crichton get his medical degree?

Last week’s trivia question:

Carrie White begins her book with a few epigraphs, something that Crichton did with his books. The last epigraph for Upper Cut reads:

It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.
--Michael Crichton


Who can tell me the significance of the Crichton quote?


Charles Epting correctly answered “Opening line of Travels”




Saturday, October 1, 2011

Michael Crichton Trivia - Upper Cut


In my last post, Michael Crichton’s Hairdresser, I wrote:

Carrie White begins her book with a few epigraphs, something that Crichton did with his books. The last epigraph for Upper Cut reads:

It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.
--Michael Crichton


Who can tell me the significance of the Crichton quote?




Friday, September 23, 2011

Michael Crichton’s Hairdresser




Carrie White cut Michael Crichton’s hair for 38 years. In her just released memoir Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life, she writes:

“Michael was my favorite male client. I would take an extra long time cutting him, just to hear what he had to say about current events.” (p. 274)


On her website is a wonderful photo of her with Michael Crichton at a book signing. Upper Cut contains another photo of the two of them.

Carrie White begins her book with a few epigraphs, something that Crichton did with his books. The last epigraph for Upper Cut reads:

It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.
--Michael Crichton


And in the acknowledgements section, White writes:

“My final gratitude to Michael Crichton, my beloved friend and client for thirty-eight years” (p. 380)


Think of how many times Carrie White held Michael Crichton’s brilliant head in her hands. And his hair always looked gorgeous.

Read my review of Upper Cut at Barnes & Noble or Goodreads.




Saturday, September 10, 2011

Micro Book Cover - UK Edition


Harper Collins UK has revealed the UK edition book cover of Micro.



It is customary for novels to have different covers when they are published abroad, even when published in English. As a 2010 Guardian article explains, book covers are part of the marketing of a novel and each campaign must be created to be effective in a particular country’s culture.

(Sidenote: It is interesting that the Harry Potter novels are published in the UK with different covers for children and adults—the idea being that adults want a more subdued cover that doesn’t look like a children’s book. As the American editions of Harry Potter have only one cover for all ages, it would seem that Americans are not as easily embarrassed as our friends in the UK.)

The official Michael Crichton website displays the foreign covers for many of Crichton’s books.

The Andromeda Strain (1969)

Five Patients (1970)

The Terminal Man (1972)

The Great Train Robbery (1975)

Eaters of the Dead (1976)

Congo (1980)

Electronic Life (1983)

Sphere (1987)

Travels (1988)

Jurassic Park (1990)

Rising Sun (1992)

Disclosure (1994)

The Lost World (1995)

Airframe (1996)

Timeline (1999)

Prey (2002)

State of Fear (2004)

My friend, Pavel FrĨka, who alerted me to the UK Micro cover, has created a website showing the Czech edition book covers of Crichton’s works




Thursday, September 1, 2011

Next - Gerard the Parrot


Gerard the transgenic African Grey parrot in Next is one of the most enjoyable characters Michael Crichton ever created. The witty and sarcastic bird serves as another example of genetic engineering, but he also provides comic relief in the novel.

Next contains the comment that African grey parrots “were highly intelligent—generally considered as intelligent as chimpanzees—and with a far greater capacity for language.” (p.169)

And in Jurassic Park Gennaro and Grant are discussing the raptors:

“How smart are they?” he said.

“If you think of them as birds,” Grant said, “then you have to wonder. Some new studies show the gray parrot has as much symbolic intelligence as a chimpanzee. And chimpanzees can definitely use language. Now researchers are finding that parrots have the emotional development of a three-year-old child, but their intelligence is unquestioned. Parrots can definitely reason symbolically.”

“But I’ve never heard of anybody killed by a parrot,” Gennaro grumbled.”
(p. 376)


Not yet, but give Gerard time.

I've listened to Next on audio and Gerard is even more hysterical that way. It must have been fun for Dylan Baker to do Gerard's lines.

Gerard tends to talk in movie quotes and song lyrics. Here are some of his best lines, including the original source where applicable. (Page numbers are for the hardcover edition)

p.167
“You look good, baby, I’ve missed you.”

“Okay, if you insist.”

p. 168
“Oh. Oh. Oh. You try to trick me.”

“I love a parade…”
(From the film I Love a Parade, 1932)

“Am I a star? Am I a star?”

“We’re sorry we’re late but we had to pick up our son Hank.”
“Now Jo, just take it easy.”
(From the film The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956)

“I need a bath before any filming. You promised me a bath.”

p.170
“Hey, nice place, Gail. Way to go.”

“I was just saying that.”

“I mean I was just saying that.”

“Just an observation.”

p.172
“I hope they are watching. They’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll say, ‘Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly."
(From the film Psycho, 1960)

p. 280

“You kidnapped me.”

“Riley. Doghouse Riley.”
(From the film The Big Sleep, 1946)

p. 281
“You’re the reason our kids are ugly, little darlin’”
(From the song of the same title)

p. 283
“Oh, he’s a good talker. Stop patronizing me.”

"I am surrounded by fools"
(From the film Becket, 1964)

“Ooh la la. Will you please listen to me?”

“I am a person, you little twit. And if you want to hump this guy, go on and do it. Just don’t make me wait around while you wiggle your assets in front of him.”

p. 284
“You are giving me away? This is slavery! I am not something you give away.”

p. 310
“It stinks. It stinks to high heaven. What hellhole is this?”

p. 311
“I am a man of many talents.”

“Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Good-bye.”
(From the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968)

“Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
(From the film All About Eve, 1950)

“They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere—“
“Sink me!”
(From the film The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1934)

“Well, they’re saved from the blessings of civilization.”
(From the film Stagecoach, 1939)

p. 312
“Le soleil c’est beau.”
“Les femmes au volant c’est la lachete personifie.”
“Pourquoi elle ne depasse pas?”
“Oh, oui, merde, des travaux.”
“Il ne faut jamais freiner….Comme disait le vieux pere Bugatti, les voitures sont faites pour rouler, pas pour s’arreter.”
“Merde, les flies arrivent!”
(From the film Breathless, 1960)

p. 328
“Your heart sweats, your body shakes, another kiss is what it takes…”
“You can’t sleep, you can’t eat—“
(From the song "Addicted To Love")

“What fresh hell is this?”
(A famous line by Dorothy Parker)

“I don’t know why I love you like I do, after all the changes—“
(From the song "Take Me To The River")

“Mellow greetings, ukie dukie.”
“You remind me of a man.”
“No, you are supposed to say, ‘What man?”
“The man with the power.”
“The power of hoodoo.”
“You do.”
“Remind me of a man.”
(From the film The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer, 1947)

“Ooh, aren’t you the twisted bunny.”

p. 340
“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.”
“Nobody knows, ‘cept Jesus…”
(From the song “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”)

p. 341
“I ain’t seen the sunshine, since I don’t know when-nnn…”
(From the song “Folsom Prison Blues”)

“Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, damen und herren, from what was once an inarticulate mass of lifeless tissues, may I now present a cultured, sophisticated, man about town! Hit it!”
(From the film Young Frankenstein, 1974)

“It’s my life—don’t you forget it!”
(From the song "It's My Life")

“We’re so glad to see so many of you lovely people here tonight.”
(From the film The Blues Brothers, 1980)

“Let’s be happy, happy happy, say the word now.”
“Happy happy happy, try it somehow…”
“Happy, happy, happy, happy, oh baby yes, happy, happy—“

“You don’t scare me, buster.”

“I’ve got some news for you, and you’ll soon find out it’s true, and you’ll have to eat your lunch all my yourself—“
(From the song "All Ready Gone")

p. 342
“It looks as though you’re letting go, and if it’s real I don’t want to—“
(From the song “Don’t Speak")

“You can’t do this to me.”
(From the film Citizen Kane, 1941)

“Don’t go away mad, it can’t be so bad, don’t go away…”
(From the song “Don’t Go Away Mad”)

p. 346

“I’m sha sha shakin’, I’m shakin’ now.”
(From the song "I'm Shakin")

“You can stop right there, mister!”

p. 347
“You feel lucky, punk? Do you? Huh?”
(From the film Dirty Harry, 1971)

“Every time you turn around expect to see me. ‘Cause one time you’ll turn around and I’ll be there, and I’ll kill you, Matt.”
(From the film Red River, 1948)

“Life is hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.”
(From the film The Sands of Iwo Jima, 1949)

“Look, you fools, you’re in danger, can’t you see? They’re after you, they’re after all of us!”
(From the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956)

“Get back to where you once belonged!”
(From the song “Get Back”)

p. 364

“What’s the matter, don’t you know how to talk?”

“How thrilling for you.”

p. 365
“I could ask the same of you.”

p. 366
“Buffeting! Buffeting! Twenty thousand feet, buffeting! I am going to push the stick forward—“

p. 367
“I want you to want me.”
“I need you to need you.”
(From the song, "I Want You to Want Me")

“What’s up, Doc?”
(Classic Bugs Bunny line)

“Jell-O, the tasty dessert for the whole family, now with more calci-yum!”

p. 385
“Just a bird! Who are you calling a bird?”

“You gentlemen aren’t really trying to kill my son, are you?”
(From the film North by Northwest, 1959)

“Ah Christ. What’s your name?”

p. 386
“That depends on who’s in the saddle.”
(From the film The Big Sleep, 1946)

“Well, a boy’s best friend is his mother.”
(From the film Psycho, 1960)

“Your story didn’t sound quite right.”
“Oh that’s too bad, you got a better one?”
(From the film The Big Sleep, 1946)

p. 390
“My, my. Such a lot of guns around town, and so few brains.”
(From The Big Sleep, 1946)

p. 413
“I can’t sleep a wink anymore, ever since you walked out the door.
All you ever do is bring me down.”
(From the song “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down”)

p. 414
“Life is a book and you’ve got to read it.”
“Life is a story and you’ve got to tell it.”
(From the song "Life")

“Is this where you live? Oh, Mother’s going to love it here!”
(From the film To Catch a Thief, 1955)

“My baby used to stay out all night long,
She made me cry, she done me wrong,
She hurt my eyes open, that’s no lie,
Tables turn and now her turn to cry,
Because I used to love her, but it’s over now…”
(From the song "It's All Over Now")
-------------------------------------------------
If anyone can identify the source of the unattributed quotes, please leave a comment.




Saturday, August 20, 2011

Michael Crichton on Goals and Intentions


At the Academy of Achievement’s 1992 Summit in Las Vegas, Michael Crichton gave a brief talk on goals and intentions. The talk, length [11:10], is available as a free download through iTunes.

Crichton illustrated the roles of the conscious and unconscious minds by comparing them to a small mouse on top of an enormous elephant. The mouse represents the conscious mind; the elephant – the unconscious mind. He said, “And if you want to knock down walls, the notion of which animal, which mind you want to enlist, is I think, very clear.”


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NEXT E-book - Enhanced Edition


On July 26, 2011, HarperCollins released a new digital edition of Michael Crichton’s novel Next. The Enhanced Edition, which is available through Barnes & Noble and iTunes, contains six videos, along with an interactive map of the human body with gene patent information. It also contains an audio interview with Michael Crichton, along with the transcript. This interview has appeared on the audio edition of Next, and the transcript was included in the previous ebook edition released on October 13, 2009.

I have not gotten the Enhanced Edition of Next yet, as it can only be viewed on NookColor, iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (with either the NookColor or iBooks applications). Sadly I don’t have any of those devices at the present time, so I am currently determining the appropriate bribe for one of my more fortunate friends. If anyone has the Enhanced Edition, I would love to hear your review.

The Crichton website page contains a screenshot from iPad of the table of contents of the extra features.

Featured Enhancements

• Video: Michael Crichton’s Conclusions

• Video: Stop Patenting Genes—Lori Andrews

• Video: Clear Guidelines—Kathy Giusti

• Video: Ensure Data is Made Public—Harry Ostrer, MD 4

• Video: The Bayh-Dole Act—Stuart Neuman, MD 5

• Video: Michael Crichton’s Legacy

• Who Owns Your Body


Two of these names were mentioned in Crichton’s introduction to his bibliography of Next:

“I relied particularly on the work of law professor Lori Andrews, authors Matt Ridley and Ronald Bailey, and scientists John Avise, Stuart Newman, and Louis-Marie Houdebine.”

“Who Owns Your Body” is most likely the interactive map of the human body with gene patent information. But “Who Owns Your Body?” is also the title of a conference held May 21, 2007 in Chicago.

Who Owns Your Body?
Legal and Social Issues in Michael Crichton's NEXT

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Lori Andrews, who convened the conference, presented some of the highlights on her website. There is also a short video featuring her introduction of Michael Crichton, and some of his remarks.

Crichton also gave the speech What I Have Learned From Reactions to My Books.

More information about the conference is available from the Chicago-Kent Law Review, and a blog post by Hunter Hogan.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Michael Crichton News - 8/9/11


Spielberg Confirms Jurassic Park IV Film

It’s been reported that on July 22 at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, Steven Spielberg confirmed that a fourth Jurassic Park film will be made. Spielberg said, "We have a story, we have a writer who is writing the treatment and hopefully we are going to make 'Jurassic Park 4' in all of our foreseeable futures.”

Spielberg was responding to a question during a panel discussion. His remarks can be seen on this video – the question and Spielberg’s answer begin at [5:45].


New Book - Conversations with Michael Crichton



Conversations with Michael Crichton, a collection of 19 interviews with the author, was published in June by the University Press of Mississippi as part of their Literary Conversations Series. The interviews, which are from various sources, range in date from 1969 to 2005. An in-depth review of the book will be posted soon.





Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Science Channel Project - The World of Michael Crichton



The Science Channel is planning a special— “The World of Michael Crichton"—that will air in 2012.

From the article in Variety:

"Before he was an entertainment icon, Michael Crichton was a man of science," said Science Channel g.m.-exec VP Debbie Adler Myers. "This will be an illuminating look at the remarkable life of a man who is synonymous with enthralling scientific drama but who also managed to maintain a very private personal life."



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Micro Cover Revealed!


The cover of Michael Crichton’s upcoming novel Micro has been revealed:



Crichton’s name is at the top as usual, with the name of Richard Preston (who completed the unfinished novel) at the bottom.

The cover’s colors are red, black, and white—the colors that have been used for the covers of several Michael Crichton novels.

Now you know what inspired the colors on my blog.

Next (2006)



State of Fear (2004)



Prey (2002)



Timeline (1999)




Airframe (1996)




The Lost World (1995)



Disclosure (1994)



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Michael Crichton Said About Micro


Michael Crichton was reticent about whatever project he was currently writing. In a 1997 online discussion he said, “I never discuss what I am working on until it is done. It's a superstition of mine. Many writers share it.”

Prior to a Crichton book release, the only information readers usually had was the description provided by the publisher. (Speculation abounded, but that was part of the fun.)

After a book’s release, Crichton would give many interviews, and that is something I missed very much when Pirate Latitudes was published.

Now we’re awaiting the November 22 release of Micro, the technothriller Crichton was working on when he died, completed by science writer Richard Preston. Publisher HarperCollins has described the novel as "a high concept thriller in the vein of Jurassic Park."

HarperCollins isn’t just trying to market Micro by associating it with Crichton’s most popular work. Crichton himself made the connection in two interviews.

From a December 2006 interview with the Sunday Times:

As far as his next books are concerned, it's time to lighten up. "I've decided to do something that's just fun to do. I think I'm always concerned about becoming a scold. I'll just do something closer to Jurassic Park."


And in the March 2007 interview “Seven Answers From Michael Crichton” when asked what he was working on now, Crichton replied:

“An adventure story like Jurassic Park. I'm enjoying myself.”


In addition, we have valuable information from a Harper Collins press release:

In an unfinished introduction to MICRO, [Crichton] wrote, "Perhaps the single most important lesson to be learned by direct experience is that the natural world, with all its elements and interconnections, represents a complex system and therefore we cannot understand it and we cannot predict its behavior...Interacting with the natural world, we are denied certainty. And always will be."


To better understand the meaning of Crichton’s words, it is useful to examine what he said in his June 2008 radio interview with Dennis Miller. (This was the last interview Michael Crichton gave, so far as I have been able to discover.)

Miller asked about the topic of his forthcoming book, and Crichton said:

“The last few books have shown me how many people really don’t have good information about the environment. So I thought I’d try and write a book that wouldn’t rile everybody up but would be informative in a way that would be fun, and would give them some information about how our environment really is structured.” (Part 1 at 9:07)

Now let’s take a closer look at what Crichton wrote in his unfinished intro to Micro.

“…the single most important lesson to be learned by direct experience…”

Crichton’s autobiography Travels contains a chapter titled “Direct Experience” where he writes:

“One of the most difficult features of direct experience is that it is unfiltered by any theories and expectations. It’s hard to observe without imposing a theory to explain what we’re seeing, but the trouble with theories, as Einstein said, is that they explain not only what is observed, but what can be observed. We start to build expectations based on our theories. And often those expectations get in the way.” (p. 351)

“…the natural world, with all its elements and interconnections, represents a complex system, therefore we cannot understand it and we cannot predict its behavior.”

Crichton addressed this topic in a November 2005 speech:

We live in a world of complex systems. The environment is a complex system. The government is a complex system. Financial markets are complex systems. The human mind is a complex system. Most minds anyway.

By a complex system, I mean one in which the elements of the system interact among themselves such that any modification we make to the system will produce results that we can’t predict in advance.

In addition, a complex system is sensitive to initial conditions. You can get one result from it on one day, but the identical interaction the next day will yield a different result. We cannot know with certainty how the system will respond.

Third, when we do something to a complex system, we may get downstream consequences that emerge weeks or even years later. We have to be watchful for delayed and untoward consequences.


“Interacting with the natural world, we are denied certainty. And always will be."

Crichton wrote of this issue in his Author's Message from State of Fear:

“We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty….I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.”


So will Micro create the controversy that State of Fear did? Will Crichton’s views on the environment come through clearly in the novel? With great anticipation, we wait and watch.



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