Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Michael Crichton Christmas 2012

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!

Even though nothing new by Michael Crichton was published this year, I keep finding interviews and essays that he did. So it’s like hearing his voice anew.

I've been trying to track down every word Crichton ever wrote or uttered in an interview or speech. Even though I've spent years at this, I’m still discovering things. Sometime next year I’ll post a list of all I've found. Most are not online but can be found through university libraries. If I can obtain permission to post any on this blog, I will do so.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Talking with Michael Crichton

As Thanksgiving approaches, I remember with deep gratitude the month of November 2005. I had the honor of participating in a month-long online discussion on State of Fear with Michael Crichton through the Barnes & Noble website. Here are a few snippets of my conversations with him.

I wrote:
May we have a sequel to Travels soon please?
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...

I wrote:
I find it interesting that NERF and ELF, the two sinister organizations, have acronyms that remind me of things from childhood: nerf balls and other nerf toys, and elf, one of Santa’s little helpers. It’s an amusing and ironic contrast. Michael, was that intentional?
That never occurred to me while working! Interesting. I was aware that ELF was the same initials as an actual organization. And I was aware that the book SPHERE was at one time titled "ULF"---don't ask me why, I can't remember now.

And there is a slang meaning for nerf, which is kind of hipster-childish, but not widely known, so I figured it would not influence most readers. But as for the similarities between the two...never crossed my mind.

Another participant in the discussion, J, wrote:
OMG! You wrote to me!!!
I wrote:
He wrote to you! He wrote to me too! (Virtually hold hands and scream together) :-0


Yes, and I could do it again...

Crichton commented numerous times during the discussion on a wide variety of topics. I never got to meet him in person, but I am still very thankful I had the opportunity to communicate with him in some manner.

Related posts:

Michael Crichton – Favorite Holiday Recipes

Thank You, Michael Crichton

Friday, November 2, 2012

Celebrating Michael Crichton - Part 3: Favorites

My favorite of all of Michael Crichton’s works is his autobiography Travels. (See the letter I wrote to him about it.) Travels was also Crichton’s favorite book. During an online discussion in 2005, Michael Crichton told me he was working on a sequel. I hope we get to read it someday.

My favorite of his novels is Timeline. I love the combination of science and history. Plus Andre Marek is one of Crichton’s best characters.

What are your favorite Michael Crichton books?

Barnes & Noble

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Celebrating Michael Crichton - Part 2: Discovery

When I was nine years old, my father decided the family was going to see the 1971 film of The Andromeda Strain. (Dad tended to just come home and tell us we were going to see a particular film. I hadn't heard of Star Wars before Dad informed us we were going to see it.)

From my father I inherited a love of both science and science fiction. When I saw The Andromeda Strain, I was enthralled. I pestered my dad with questions all during the movie and for the next several weeks.

Two years later, I read my father’s copy of the novel. And I've been hooked on Crichton's work every since.

How did you discover Michael Crichton and what was the first book you read?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Celebrating Michael Crichton – Part 1

Today would have been Michael Crichton’s 70th birthday. He died on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, the day of the last presidential election. Hearing about the upcoming election makes me feel sad, and not for any political reasons. It reminds me that we lost Michael Crichton.

In the Jan. 1994 Vanity Fair article “The Admirable Crichton”, Zoe Heller described a memento of Crichton’s 50th birthday celebration. It is a hand-dawn card from a friend. The framed card depicts 50 of Michael Crichton’s favorite things. Heller shared a few of them:

• Theater

• Blondes

• His wife

• His daughter

• Aspen

• Film

• Computers

• Harvard

• Good wine

• Balance

• Clarity

• Brevity

• Vision

• Global thinking

• Strategy

• Direction

• Elegance

• Excellence

• Beauty

I’d love to know what the other 31 things were, and to see the card myself someday.

To celebrate Michael Crichton, I’d like to come up with 70 words that describe and represent him. Unfortunately, I can’t come up with 70 words today, not if I want to do him justice. So I’ll just share one.

What word comes to mind when I think of Michael Crichton?
Crichton had the most stimulating mind I have ever encountered.

What word comes to mind when you think of Michael Crichton?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Michael Crichton News 9/3/12

Gene Patents back in court

On March 26 the Supreme Court threw out the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals 2011 decision upholding gene patents in the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. The case was sent back to the lower court for a do-over, with instructions to review the case in consideration of the Supreme Court’s decision in the March 20 case Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. Analysis, which held restrictions on genetic patents.

On August 16, the Federal Circuit Court again upheld gene patents, with the vote going along the same 2-1 lines as in the 2011 decision. Now we’ll have to see if the case goes back to the Supreme Court.

(Thank you, John, for keeping me up to date on this case!)

Remake of Coma

A new TV remake of the 1978 Crichton film Coma will air in two parts—Monday Sept. 3 (tonight) and Tuesday Sept. 4. Based on the novel by Robin Cook, Michael Crichton wrote the screenplay and directed the original film.

Official website for remake

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jurassic Park Book Cover Designer Chip Kidd

In a March 2012 talk, book cover designer Chip Kidd shared his experience of designing the cover of Jurassic Park. Kidd also designed the covers for The Lost World, Rising Sun, Disclosure, Airframe, and Timeline.

After Michael Crichton died in November 2008, Kidd remembered Crichton in an interview:
When 'The Lost World' (the 1997 sequel to "Jurassic Park") came out, I saw him at the book-release party and he posed for pictures with my family," Kidd said. "He was very gracious. And he was really tall. He seemed like he stepped out of his own TV show. He was literally larger than life, beyond smart and very good-looking.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hello Again!

Hello Again!

I’m so sorry I was away for so long. But I have a little treat that you may enjoy.

The latest edition to my Michael Crichton archives is an April 1972 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. On p. 138 is an article by Betsy L. Freund titled “Is Michael Crichton Superman?” Freund interviewed Crichton for the article. A couple of highlights:
“Crichton says The Terminal Man was written as a direct result of the reviews and letters he received after the publication of The Andromeda Strain.”
“His next book, Leading Women, is a series of interviews with 13 Hollywood actresses, none of whom he identifies. ‘It will probably be very weird.’”
I’ve been researching Michael Crichton for decades and this is the first I’ve heard of this nonfiction former work-in-progress. Crichton has mentioned other unrealized projects in his writings and interviews. I’ll work on compiling a list.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ebay Alert 5/23/12


1989 POPULAR MECHANICS Magazines - 11 Issues The May 1989 issue contains the article “Spaceport America” by Michael Crichton

Playboy November 1968 Contains a “Jeffery Hudson” short story - “How Does That Make You Feel?”

Time magazine - 1995 cover story

Signed Books

A Case of Need

Jurassic Park

Electronic Life

Jasper Johns – 1977 edition

Travels – Franklin Library First Edition

John Lange Novels

The Last Tomb (originally Easy Go)

Binary - hardcover

Binary and Scratch One – paperbacks

Monday, May 21, 2012

Michael Crichton Ebook Wishlist

Now we have 18 of Michael Crichton’s published books in digital format—the 17 novels published under his own name and Travels, one of his five nonfiction books (if you count the different editions of Jasper Johns as two different books, which I do).

So all we need are the rest of the nonfiction books:

Five Patients (1970)

Jasper Johns (1977)

Electronic Life (1983) – If there’s one book that should be an ebook, it’s this one.

Jasper Johns – revised edition (1994)

The eight novels wrote under the pseudonym “John Lange”:

Odds On (1966)

Scratch One (1967)

Easy Go (1968) – later republished under the title The Last Tomb

Zero Cool (1969)

The Venom Business (1969)

Grave Descend (1970)

Drug of Choice (1970)

Binary (1972)

The novel Crichton published under the pseudonym “Jeffery Hudson”:

A Case of Need (1968)

And the novel Michael Crichton wrote with his brother Douglas Crichton – published under the pseudonym “Michael Douglas”:

Dealing Or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1970)

See the first edition book covers for all of Crichton’s books! (courtesy of my good friend Pavel)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Travels, Eight Novels Now Available As Ebooks

Michael Crichton’s autobiography Travels (1988) is now available as an ebook, along with eight of his novels:

Rising Sun (1992)

Jurassic Park (1990)

Sphere (1987)

Congo (1980)

Eaters of the Dead (1976)

The Great Train Robbery (1975)

The Terminal Man (1972)

The Andromeda Strain (1969)

Nine of Crichton’s novels have been available in digital form for some time now:

Micro (2011)

Pirate Latitudes (2009)

Next (2006)

Next (enhanced ebook)

State of Fear (2004)

Prey (2002)

Timeline (1999)

Airframe (1996)

The Lost World (1995)

Disclosure (1994)

Travels is my favorite of all of Michael Crichton’s books. (See the letter I wrote to him.)

And it was Crichton’s favorite as well:
The book that I most enjoyed writing was TRAVELS, because it was autobiographical (so I knew the subject matter very well.) As I finished each chapter, I had a sense of relief, as if a weight was lifted from my shoulders. And I wrote in a very slow and orderly way, over a five month period. I really enjoyed looking back on my life and writing out sections. It was like no other book I've worked on. But they're all different. Every writing experience is different.
I’m delighted to have an ebook (in addition to the many editions I already have). But here’s something strange.

From the copyright page of Travels ebook:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

That’s a very peculiar disclaimer for an autobiography. The ebook of The Andromeda Strain has an identical disclaimer. As most of the new ebooks were novels, I imagine that the people responsible for creating the digital editions just assumed that Travels was fictional as well.

Fascinating Fact: Jurassic Park was first released as an ebook in 1992. More on that soon!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Michael Crichton Essay – Mac Computers

Here’s a find I’m very happy to share.

Recently I was reading the Walter Isaacson biography on Steve Jobs. I remembered that Michael Crichton was a Mac user. (Check out the tribute from Macworld.)

After some digging, I discovered (in a web archive) an essay that Michael Crichton had written about the Mac for the Apple website.

Two excerpts:
Why have I been so loyal to Macs?
One important reason is they’re better designed. By which I mean simpler — simple design is always the most difficult to achieve. I want objects in my environment to be simple and clear, because I don’t want to be bothered figuring out a coffee maker or a TV remote. In fact, I refuse to be bothered.

But let’s face it, I make my living on a computer. I spend all day in front of it. And in the end, the real reason I prefer Macs is because they stimulate my creativity more than other machines.

It’s difficult to say why this occurs, exactly. For one thing, they reek of innovation, and when I sit in front of one, I feel innovative, too. I like working on them. They’re playful, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
And I do a lot of playing around when I work.

I’m very grateful to late great Steve Jobs and the brilliant folks at Apple for what they contributed to the work of Michael Crichton.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Michael Crichton News 4/25/12

(Please accept my apologies for not posting for so long. Personal circumstances have presented quite a challenge as of late. I’m looking forward to picking up the pace.)

Jurassic Park in 3D
Universal Pictures has slated a 3D re-release of Jurassic Park for July 19, 2013.

In a Dec. 2011 interview, Steven Spielberg said:

“The only movie that I would ever even consider retrofitting is the first 'Jurassic Park,' which I think would look pretty spectacular in 3D. That's the only one of my films that I would consider doing in 3D.”
Raise your hand if you’re looking forward to seeing the T-Rex in 3D.

Though I think it’s good that the original film was not in 3D. Jurassic Park was scary enough in 2D. A friend of mine almost yanked her husband’s arm off the first time they saw the movie.

Micro in Paperback
Micro, the novel began by Michael Crichton and finished by Richard Preston, is coming out in paperback.

The Trade Paper edition (the bigger paperback) will be released on April 25, 2012.

The Mass Market edition (the smaller paperback) will be available on September 25, 2012.

The Michael Crichton Message Board is Gone
The Message Board on the Official Michael Crichton website appears to be gone. The link that used to lead to it now reads:

“Please join the conversation at The Official Michael Crichton Facebook Page. You'll find the link on the Official Website Homepage.”

Such a shame. I made so many friends on that board over the years. Though it wasn't very busy as of late, it was a good resource for fans. (Thank God I've made a habit of downloading everything on the board--and website--for quite some time.) I can understand closing it down, but I can't understand deleting it. Many of the threads have valuable insights and links.

Fortunately, the message board can be viewed in a web archive. Unfortunately, the most recent version is from July 2011 and so does not contain the recent posts about Micro.

I’ll never forget the State of Fear glory days on the board. That was a special time. In May 2007, the State of Fear section was closed to any new posts. (I think the powers that be got tired of breaking up the fights.)


Here’s a treat: a photo of Michael Crichton in surgical scrubs on the set of The Andromeda Strain film. Crichton had a non-speaking role as a back-up surgeon in the film.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Supreme Court Rules Against Gene Patents

On March 26, the US Supreme Court overruled a 2011 federal appeals court decision that upheld the legality of genetic patents held by Myriad Genetics Inc. The case is Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics.

From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court threw out that decision, and sent the case back to the lower courts for rehearing. The high court said it sent the case back for rehearing because of its decision in another case last week saying that the laws of nature are unpatentable.
That case, Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. Analysis, was decided on March 20.

Read the transcript of the oral arguments in the Prometheus case.

Crichton published two op-eds in the New York Times on the topic of gene patents:

This Essay Breaks the Law
March 19, 2006

Patenting Life
February 13, 2007

Somewhere, Michael Crichton is smiling… (yet again)

Related posts:

Gene Patents Case Appealed

Newsflash - Gene Patents Ruled Invalid

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ebay Alert – Odds On 3/7/12

A copy of Michael Crichton’s first published book Odds On is up for auction on eBay.

Currently the price is $25 with one bid. Expect it to go higher than $100 by the end. (Only suckers bid early on eBay). Auction ends March 12, 2012 at 20:28:42 PDT.

Seller’s reputation is 100 percent positive.

Item Description:
Odds On by John Lange aka Michael Crichton. This is very readable copy of Michael Crichton's first book originally published in December 1966 by Signet under his pseudonym John Lange. This is a third printing in acceptable condition. Other Signet Titles by John Lange listed on page 2 of this book include Scratch One, Easy Go, Zero Cool, Drug of Choice and Grave Descend, which means this copy was most likely printed about 1970 when the last two books listed were first published.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Letters to Michael Crichton

Here are links to three letters I wrote 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 – Travels

April 17, 2005 – State of Fear

November 21, 2006 – Next

Thursday, February 9, 2012

First Names, Last Names

(This is something I wrote for the Barnes & Noble online discussion of State of Fear in November 2005.)

Something I find curious about State of Fear is that some characters are referred to by their last names and some by their first names.

Characters referred to by their last names:

George Morton - Morton
Peter Evans - Evans
Richard John Kenner - Kenner
Nicholas Drake - Drake
Herb Lowenstein - Lowenstein
Ted Bradley - Bradley
Norman Hoffman - Hoffman
John Balder - Balder
John Henley - Henley

Characters referred to by their first names:

Sanjong Thepa - Sanjong
Sarah Jones - Sarah
Jennifer Haynes - Jennifer
Ann Gardner - Ann
Margo Lane - Margo

I didn’t notice the difference until I was going through the novel and making notes. I wonder if there is any particular reason for this.

Comments from others in the discussion:

One obvious difference is that all females are referred to by their first names. The only male that is referred to by first name is Sanjong, which is sounds cooler than Thapa I think.

Crichton seems to do the same thing in Airframe, and Casey Singleton is the main character. She is referred to as Casey and the men in the story are referred to by their last names--at least as far as I can tell from looking it over. I’ll have to examine Crichton’s other books to see if this is a pattern.

It seems a male thing for men to refer to each other by last names and women by first while women seem to the opposite.

Just another one of the male/female differences!

I am almost finished reading 'Disclosure'. In this book Michael seems to bounce between first and surnames for both males and females.

I disagree. I think we see this pattern frequently in society -- it seems to me that in junior high school, high school, college and in the working world, males are often referred to by their last names, whereas females rarely are.

My husband went to an English state grammar school (he is in his late 40's) and they were expected to call each other by their surnames. He says he had to consciously learn to call his school mates by their Christian names when they were in public. I believe in those times females were either called by Christian names or Miss/Mrs.

My understanding is also that in Australia the same thing was standard practice in our private schools and some state schools. So maybe it is just the tradition - albeit sexist.

I agree. I think it's a man thing. Women don't go around calling each other by their last names.

Good observation about the names--I never noticed. Aside from Sanjong, all the "first namers" are women. That's a common habit of students and instructors when discussing well-known authors. Emily Dickinson becomes Emily, while Hemingway is...well, Hemingway. Maybe it's a subconscious habit, left over from MC's school days.

Hmm, wonder if MC will read this and consider Jones and Haynes for the sequel.

And finally, from Michael Crichton himself:

I noticed it, too. The usual presumption is that reference by first name is demeaning. Or that reference by last name is cold and distancing. But, the presumption is that it means *something.* Once this became an issue several years ago, in other books I have carefully addressed everyone by either first or last name, or at least, primarily in one form or another. But I found that people who see demeaning or cold treatment in the use of names still see demeaning or cold treatment, but transferred their feeling to some other way that the stories treat characters. So it seemed like a lot of trouble for little useful result.

And there is the additional issue of how people are referred to "in dialog." Are they spoken to by first or last names...

Anyway, I argue there is no special meaning here. I could have referred to everyone by first or last name, but didn't.

This is a topic I think I’ll research further. It’s a little on the nitpicky side, but I would still like to find out what Crichton did in his other works.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Micro News 2/7/12

Hello again!

The Courier Mail published an interview with Richard Preston On Jan. 7:

Richard Preston was so captivated by Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain he feigned illness so he could stay home from school to finish reading the book.

"I was trying to figure out how to make all the blood in my body clot up like it did in the book, but that didn't really work with my mother," Preston (pictured above) says. "So I faked coughing instead."

A transcript is now available for the Nov. 27 NPR interview with Preston.

On his Facebook page, Preston has been posting some photos of Hawaii that inspired some of the descriptions in Micro. Check it out!

The winners have been chosen for the Micro photo contest. Yours truly is thrilled to be one of the third place winners. The photos that won the grand, first, and second place prizes were photos that I had voted for. Glad to see my judgment validated. Congratulations to all the winners! More details coming soon…

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ebay Alert 1/27/12


Odds On by John Lange
Michael Crichton’s first published book

Approaching Oblivion by Harlan Ellison
This short story collection contains a foreword by Michael Crichton

Rising Sun by Michael Crichton
Franklin Library leatherbound Signed First Edition

Jasper Johns by Michael Crichton
revised 1994 edition

Travels by Michael Crichton
Franklin Library leatherbound Signed First Edition

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
This illustrated edition contains an introduction by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park & The Lost World – Signed by Michael Crichton - Easton Press
These are the leatherbound editions were part of the Grand Prize in the Micro Photo Contest.


TV Guide - November 25 - December 1, 1972
This issue contains an article written by Michael Crichton about the experience of directing his first film Pursuit.

Playboy January 1988
Contains the essay “Panic In The Sheets” by Michael Crichton

Playboy February 1989
Contains the essay "Men's Hearts" by Michael Crichton

Playboy Magazine Dec 1991
Contains the essay “How to Argue” by Michael Crichton

1989 POPULAR MECHANICS Magazines - 11 Issues
The May 1989 issue contains the article “Spaceport America” by Michael Crichton

Fangoria 126 JURASSIC PARK
Contains an interview with Michael Crichton

LIFE magazine March 3, 1972
Contains short article with interview of Michael Crichton

Playboy November 1968
Contains a Jeffery Hudson short story “How Does That Make You Feel?”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Richard Preston Radio Interview 1/9/12

There’s a fantastic radio interview of Richard Preston on Some Books Considered. The Jan. 9 program is quite informative about the process of writing Micro.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!

Sorry for the long silence. My productivity has been temporarily impeded by my working in retail during the holiday season, and recently by a slightly strained shoulder. Be back soon….

In the meantime, here's something on Ebay that I really wanted. A book that had belonged to Michael Crichton. His name is written in it. There are underlined passages, and notes in the margins. (See the photos) Somebody else got it for the Buy-it-now price of $350. Killed me not to be able to buy it.