Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More on Michael Crichton’s Micro

A few more details have come out about Michael Crichton’s new novel Micro.

As I posted Sunday, science writer Richard Preston completed the novel Crichton had begun. Reuters reported:

“Besides the unfinished manuscript, Preston also had access to the outline, a bibliography of nearly 100 books and DVDs, as well as notes and research.”

I’m looking forward to seeing that bibliography. The last four novels Crichton published while he was still living—Next, State of Fear, Prey, and Timeline—all had bibliographies. I missed seeing one in Pirate Latitudes.

But the real treat comes from a Harper Collins press release:

The subject of the tension between modern man and the natural world was one to which Crichton repeatedly returned throughout his career. In an unfinished introduction to MICRO, he 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."

Reading the first new words from Crichton since Pirate Latitudes put a lump in my throat. I hope the introduction will be published with Micro, even if it is unfinished.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Michael Crichton Novel "Micro" in November

Word just came out that Michael Crichton's technothriller novel, Micro, will be published November 22, 2011. According to an Associated Press story, Micro, which Crichton had written a third of before he died, has been completed by science writer Richard Preston. The novel will be "a thriller about a biotech company in Hawaii and the graduate students who end up stranded and endangered in a rain forest. Preston, known for his best-selling nonfiction work about the Ebola virus, 'The Hot Zone,' used Crichton’s outline, reference materials and notes to finish the book."

Preston commented:
“Michael was writing at the top of his game, with a grand sense of adventure, into an eerie world that seems almost beyond imagining,” Preston said. “For me, it was an irresistible challenge to finish the novel, and I was driven by a desire to honor the work and imagination of one of our time’s most visionary and creative authors.

Related Posts:
New Michael Crichton Novel Slated for November Release?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Travels - “Seeing Headhunters”

Of all of Michael Crichton’s books, my favorite is his autobiography Travels.
One chapter that set me thinking was “Seeing Headhunters” (pp. 295-296). It consists of two stories.

In the first, Michael Crichton has traveled to Borneo to see the Dyaks, who are indigenous headhunters. Crichton is in a small town, Sibu, and is told that there is an authentic Dyak village nearby, but he will not be able to get a boat to it until the next morning. Crichton becomes bored and frustrated that he cannot see Dyaks now, as he wanders around an open market. Suddenly he realizes the most of the people shopping in the open market around him are Dyaks.

The second story tells of Crichton’s trip to Nepal. His Sherpa guide shows him a view and says it is the Kali-Gandaki Gorge. Crichton is unimpressed by what looks like “just a big valley with snowy mountain peaks on both sides.” The guide keeps repeating its name, but Crichton continues to be unimpressed. When he gets home, he discovers that the Kali-Gandaki Gorge is the largest canyon in the world, four times deeper than the Grand Canyon and 20 times as wide. He writes that it is “a canyon so enormous that the eye can hardly see it for what it is.”

Both stories demonstrate how our expectations affect our perceptions. In the first story, Crichton expected to see the Dyaks in their village. As he didn’t expect to see them in the open market, he didn’t perceive them at first. In the second story, Crichton’s expectations of what a canyon should look like kept him from perceiving the spectacular one right in front of him.

This is a problem with expectations. They can limit our perceptions to a great degree. Expectations also keep us from appreciating and enjoying life. When you have expectations, either your expectations are met, and you are satisfied, or your expectations are not met, and you are frustrated and disappointed. But more often than not, your expectations are not correct or even realistic. So instead of appreciating things or people for what they are, you become disappointed and unhappy because your expectations aren’t met. I think expectations have much to do with how happy a person is.

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