Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Michael Crichton Christmas 2013

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 Lost Worlds
And a T-Rex who tried to eat me

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

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

On the fifth day of Christmas Michael Crichton gave to me
Five Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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 Pirate Latitudes
Four Timelines
Three Rising Suns
Two Lost Worlds
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.

In 2011, I updated it to include Micro, Crichton’s posthumous novel that was completed by Richard Preston.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Michael Crichton: “What I Have Learned from Reactions to My Books”

Michael Crichton: “What I Have Learned from Reactions to My Books”

This is a publication of a speech that Michael Crichton made on May 21, 2007 at the "Who Owns Your Body?" symposium at the Kent School of Law in Chicago. It was published in the Chicago-Kent Law Review in 2009 and has recently been made available through Law Commons.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Five Years Ago

(I apologize for not posting something on what would have been Michael Crichton’s 71st birthday on October 23. It could not be helped, as my health has not been good lately. Mea maxima culpa, Michael, and to all my Musings readers.)

Five years ago today, we lost Michael Crichton. I still find it difficult to accept. I feel he is still a part of the universe somehow. Anything else would be unthinkable.

Here’s a comment I posted in the New York Times story about his death:
Michael Crichton was far more than a novelist. He was a brilliant philosopher who explored ideas and issues through fiction. On a wide range of important topics, he ignited analysis and debate among readers around the world as few writers have ever done. Crichton’s strength was not in the answers he provided, but in the questions he provoked. His death is a tragic loss, but his books will continue to entertain and educate readers.
I just went back to the article and found some other comments that illustrate how Michael Crichton will continue to live through his work. Many future readers will have their minds illuminated through his words.
I was an extra in the movie version of “Coma” which Crichton directed back in 1977. (It was filmed in and around Boston.) I remember being shocked the first time I saw him on the set – he was 6 ft. 7 and I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone that tall before! My memory of him as a director is that he was low key and in control, everything went smoothly during the production. It is so sad to hear of his untimely death.
— laurel

Michael was unassuming, good natured, and a friend, though we were separated by years and distance. We often breakfasted together on Saturday mornings on Kauai after the farmer’s market when we both lived there. He told me he always considered himself more of an anthropologists and each novel, a paper for class. He had a wonderful sense of humor. I miss him.
— Myles Ludwig

Michael Crichton is to a large degree responsible for at least one professional biologist – upon reading The Andromeda Strain as a small boy (and I still have that copy), I became enthralled with molecular biology. His writing launched me on my scientific career path thought MIT and Harvard, and I have read all of his subsequent books. Thank you so much , Dr. Crichton, and rest in peace. My life would have been much different without you. I see a last book was scheduled for publication in early December – was it near enough to completion to be finished and released?
John Greene, Ph.D.

A big lost for the literature world! Today I’m a researcher, thanks to the Crichton’s works, not because I’m influenced, but because his books kept the paleontology “flames” burning inside me. And then I choosed paleontology as work. His books also had told us that we must never accept the obvious without think deeper about it, as most scientist do… Official mourning decreed…
— Henrique (Brazil)

I have never read a Michael Crichton book, but I am still a big fan of his. By the time my daughter Alice turned 12, she had read eight of Crichton’s books. I took her to see him at a book signing for the novel Prey. At the time, Alice was a shy girl, and she fretted about what to say to someone she looked up to so much. Mr. Crichton immediately made her feel at ease and was wonderfully kind to her, asking her questions about her favorites. Alice and I both left that meeting as enthusiastic fans of Michael Crichton.
— Maggie

I read all his books in high school, and still count Sphere as a top 5 book – always fascinating and engaging stuff – but his non-fiction book ‘Travels’ really changed the way I saw the world, made me very curious about things I’d never thought about. I have huge respect for him. His legacy for me and hopefully a lot of others is to let laziness and incuriousness be damned.
— Chris

after admiring him for many years, i met mr. crichton at a fundraising talk he gave for a community center. i was working the sound system for him. he was so incredibly gracious and appreciative toward me, the lowly sound guy. after it was over, he sought me out and thanked me for my work. he was not only a brilliant thinker and gifted storyteller. He was a genuinely kind & caring person. to his family, i’m so sorry for your loss.
— peter c

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Now Online: Michael Crichton's 1969 Review of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

The New Republic has given us a very special treat: online publication of Michael Crichton's 1969 book review of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Crichton wrote a number of book reviews in the 1960s, but most are not available on the web. I've had to scrounge around university libraries and wrestle with microfilm to find many of them.

From the review:

We live in an age of great seriousness. We are accustomed to getting our art in heavy, pretentious doses. Anything funny is suspect, and anything simple is doubly suspect. Here we come to the second difficulty with Kurt Vonnegut. His style is effortless, naive, almost childlike. There are no big words and no complicated sentences. It is an extraordinarily difficult style, but that fact is lost on anyone who has never tried to write that way.

Monday, September 2, 2013

HBO to Remake Westworld

According to Variety, HBO has given the go for the production of a pilot of a series remake of Westworld. Michael Crichton wrote and directed the 1973 film. Jonathan Nolan, who has written the films The Prestige and The Dark Knight Rises, plus the TV series Person of Interest, will be writing and directed the remake.

From Variety:

The HBO rendition of “Westworld” is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” The pilot production commitment is a big one by HBO’s standards, indicated the depth of the pay cabler’s interest in the project.

While you’re waiting, check out Michael Crichton in “The Making of Westworld”:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

John Lange Novels to be Published in Paperback

Ask and ye shall receive.

When the digital publication of Michael Crichton’s pseudonym novels was announced, many people said they wished they could get print editions. Most of the titles were out of print and the second hand copies were often quite expensive.

Especially Odds On, Drug of Choice, and The Venom Business.

Hard Case Crime, which republished Grave Descend in 2006 and Zero Cool in 2008, will be publishing the eight novels Crichton wrote under the name “John Lange” in October/November 2013.

Charles Ardai, the owner and publisher of Hard Case Crime, worked with Crichton in getting two of the books republished—Crichton even wrote two extra chapters for Zero Cool—but he was unable to persuade “John Lange” to reveal his true identity. In a recent interview, Ardai said:

Working with Michael (even if we had to keep it secret) was one of the great pleasures and privileges of my career, and ever since, I've wished we could have completed what we began. I've also wondered whether Michael might eventually have given in to temptation and written a whole new Lange novel for us -- no less persuasive a figure than Stephen King was encouraging him to do so! Alas, a new Lange novel will never be…but we’re very pleased to announce that five years later we finally will get to finish what we started. We’re going to be bringing all eight John Lange novels back to bookstores for the first time in more than four decades – and with the blessing of Michael’s family, the first time ever under the his real name.

I work in a bookstore and I remember telling several Michael Crichton fans about the John Lange novels we had for sale. Most were very surprised, having had no idea that Crichton had written under a pseudonym.

Odds On (1966)

Scratch One (1967)

Easy Go (1968)

Zero Cool (1969)

The Venom Business (1970)

Drug of Choice (1970)

Grave Descend (1970)

Binary (1972)

Unfortunately, Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1970) by Michael Douglas is still available only in digital or out-of-print editions.

A Case of Need (1968) by Jeffery Hudson was out of print but was republished in 1993 with Crichton’s name on the cover. It’s available in paperback and has been for years. There’s an interesting story behind that. (Coming Soon: “A Special Case of Need”)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

“A Portrait of Michael Crichton” video

This video, made in 2001, contains an extensive interview with Michael Crichton. It’s included in The Andromeda Strain (1971) DVD. Crichton talks about his writing during the Med School Years, and explains how he chose the pseudonyms “John Lange” and “Jeffery Hudson”.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Michael Crichton Pseudonym Novels Released

Eight of the ten pseudonym novels by Michael Crichton were released in digital format on July 23. Ebook releases of Grave Descend and Zero Cool have been pushed back to August 27, 2013. No explanation has been given, but the other books will provide plenty of reading for now.

I have print copies of all the titles. My favorites are Binary, Easy Go (aka The Last Tomb), Drug of Choice, and Scratch One. But all are fascinating reads, not only for what they reveal about Crichton as a writer, but in their own right.

The ebooks contain a special treat for Michael Crichton’s fans—nine photos from the Crichton archives:

• A photo of Michael Crichton with his brother Douglas when they were boys. This photo was taken by their mother and appeared on the hardcover dust jacket of Dealing.

• A telegram informing Crichton of his acceptance to Harvard

• Crichton’s Harvard yearbook photo in 1961. He was in Lowell House. (I have a 1964 Harvard yearbook which shows Crichton in his senior year.)

• A photo of Crichton as an anthropology student at Harvard. He’s measuring some statues that I believe are the Elgin Marbles.

• Cover page for a paper Crichton published with the Peabody Museum

• 1969 Harvard Crimson article about Michael Crichton. As I documented in an earlier post, Crichton also wrote a number of articles for the Crimson.

• A photo of Crichton as a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute in 1969

• A photo of Crichton scuba diving, which was taken for his autobiography Travels

• A photo of Crichton “hiking while doing research for his novel Micro”. This choked me up a bit. As you know, Crichton died before he could finish the novel. Micro was published in November 2011 after Richard Preston completed the novel based on Crichton’s drafts and notes.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Michael Crichton “The Med School Years” video

To promote and celebrate the release of Michael Crichton’s pseudonym novels, the Crichton website now features a short video giving some background on these books. Interviews with Michael Crichton are included, as well as some comments by Crichton’s longtime agent Lynn Nesbit. (I believe I read that she became his agent on the second John Lange novel, Easy Go. Will have to find the reference.)

The main page of “The Med School Years” contains links to order the books from Amazon or Apple. I get my books from Barnes & Noble, so I’ll post the links for any who want to go there.

Easy Go

Odds On

The Venom Business

Drug of Choice


Scratch One

Grave Descend

Zero Cool

A Case of Need

Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues

Friday, June 28, 2013

Michael Crichton—The Med School Years

The Michael Crichton website has a new section on his pseudonym novels:

Michael Crichton “The Med School Years”

It contains a good deal of fascinating information. Although the phrase “The Med School Years” is a little misleading as four of the novels—Grave Descend (1970), Drug of Choice (1970), Dealing Or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1970), and Binary (1972)—were published after Crichton graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1969.

I've always wondered why he published the last few John Lange novels after he published the highly successful The Andromeda Strain (1969) under his own name. Did Crichton already have them written or did he have a contract for a specific number of John Lange novels?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Unanimous Supreme Court Decision: Gene Patents Illegal

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that patents cannot be issued for “naturally occurring” substances. In the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Myriad had claimed that the act of isolating the two genes that indicate a higher risk of breast cancer justified the company receiving a patent on said genes.

The court did, however, allow patents for cDNA (complementary DNA) but stated that they were not declaring that cDNA was entitled to be patented—just that right now there is no legal reason for forbidding it. This is a boon to biotech companies, who will be able to patent some products and therefore, receive some compensation for their research and hard work. However, as the court did not hold that cDNA is legally eligible for patents, this leaves the door open for Congress and the patent office to close this exception.

Gene patent decision: In Plain English

Somewhere, Michael Crichton is grinning broadly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Alert! John Lange Novels to be Released as Ebooks

It was announced today that Open Road Integrated Media will publish the ten novels Michael Crichton wrote under pseudonyms as ebooks. Release date is July 23rd, 2013 (the day before my birthday). This will include the eight books Crichton wrote under the name “John Lange”, plus the one he wrote under the names of “Jeffery Hudson” and the one he co-authored with his brother Douglas Crichton under the name “Michael Douglas”. Here is a list of the titles:

The eight novels published 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)

I've long suspected that the pseudonym novels might be released as ebooks. It’s a very cost efficient way to do it.

Two of the John Lange novels were recently republished. Hard Case Crime republished Grave Descend as a paperback in 2006, and Zero Cool in 2008. They were published under the name “John Lange” with no indication that they were written by Michael Crichton. But 2008 edition of Zero Cool had a fascinating addition. Crichton wrote a prologue and epilogue in which the main character’s grandson is interviewing him and recording it on a camcorder. It’s as though Crichton was reflecting back on his early writing.

Those sections of Zero Cool are the last publication of new material by Crichton before his death.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts about what Michael Crichton has said about these earlier works.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Documentary - The Real Jurassic Park (1993)

This documentary, narrated by Jeff Goldblum, contains some video clips of Michael Crichton.

Thank you, Derrick for bringing this to my attention!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Article Alert – Michael Crichton’s Westworld

A New Yorker article examines How Michael Crichton’s "Westworld" Pioneered Modern Special Effects

Not surprising considering how far ahead of his time Crichton usually was.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gene Patents and the Supreme Court – Round 2

It’s Spring and gene patents are before the US Supreme Court once again.

On March 26, 2012, 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.

In short, the Supreme Court told the Circuit Court to try again, taking into account the Prometheus decision.

The Circuit Court decided that they got it right the first time.

Now we see if the Supreme Court agrees. Oral arguments were heard today. A decision is expected this summer.

Check back for a more detailed summary and analysis.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Now Showing: Jurassic Park 3D and IMAX

Jurassic Park in 3D is in theaters now! It will also be shown in IMAX 3D for the first week only!

Here’s a nice review:

Jurassic Park 3D Review: An Improvement on Perfection

Please share your reactions!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Video - The Making of Westworld

Here is a short video "The Making of Westworld". This was the first film that Michael Crichton wrote and directed.

Many thanks to the "Anonymous" fan who alerted me to this!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

1983 Michael Crichton Interview - The Coming Computer Revolution

Michael Crichton discussing his book Electronic Life on the Merv Griffin Show in 1983:

Many thanks to the reader who brought this to my attention!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Michael Crichton – Harvard Crimson Articles

From Michael Crichton’s autobiography Travels:

“…in college I wrote for the Harvard Crimson, where I was a book-review editor (free books) and sometimes movie reviewer (free theater passes).” (p. 72)
Here, in chronological order, are links to 31 articles that Crichton wrote for the Harvard Crimson:

May 15, 1961
54% of 1964 Receive First House Choice

October 14, 1961
Movie Review
The Guns of Navarone

October 16, 1961
Purcell Says Science Laws Are Misused

November 10, 1961
Book Review
Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Book of Essays Describes State Of Negro Race

November 14, 1961
Movie Review
The Devil's Eye

November 18, 1961
Strong Ivy Opposition Challenges 'Balanced' Crimson Swim Team

February 24, 1962
Book Review
African Genesis by Robert Ardrey
Ardrey Would Give Social Darwinism A Basis In Fact

March 23, 1962
Book Review
Science in the Cause of Man by Gerard Piel
Science Can't Accommodate Cold War Demands

March 29, 1962
Vellucci Scores Harvard's MTA Bid; Suggests 'Million Dollar Gift' to City

April 16, 1962
City Planners Stress Change at Conference

April 27, 1962
Book Review
Pigeon Feathers by John Updike
Updike Writes About Unhappy People

May 9, 1962
Chemistry Department Will Enlarge Tutorial

May 10, 1962
Doubts of Chem Department Delay New Science Center

May 25, 1962 Purcell Raps Promotion Of Leet's Testing Theory

October 13, 1962
New Accelerator Probes Structure of Proton

October 22, 1962
Movie Review
Lady Chatterly's Lover

December 5, 1962
Clive T. Miller

February 14, 1963
Book Review
Origin of Races by Carleton S. Coon
Controversial Scientist Claims Racial Differences Arose Early

March 4, 1963
Yale Swim Squad Sinks Varsity; Elis' Set Six IAB Pool Records

March 14, 1963
Book Review
The People Look at Television: A Study of Audience Attitudes by Gary A. Steiner
Views on the Idiot Box

March 26, 1963
Smith College: The Middle Way

March 28, 1963
Book Review
Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons in the Stone Age by Peter Matthiessen
Life in the Stone Age

April 11, 1963
Book Review
Profiles of the Future: An inquiry into the Limits of the Possible by Arthur C. Clarke
The Shape of the Future

May 8, 1963
Varsity Dumps Judges 25-3; 14 Scored in Seventh

May 14, 1963
Nine Trounces BC 5-0 Take GBL Title

October 10, 1963 Book Review
Science and Literature by Aldous Huxley
Further Views On The 'Two Cultures'

November 21, 1963
Book Review
The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford
The American Way of Life and Death

January 8, 1964
Movie Review
Tom Jones

February 20, 1964
Analysis of Meyer Levin's 'Fanatic': A 'Basic Problem' Badly Presented

February 26, 1964
Dr. Spock

May 6, 1964
Book Review
God and Golem, Inc. by Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener On Man and His Machine

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Alert! NPR Discussion of The Andromeda Strain on Jan 25

NPR’s Science Friday SciFri Book Club will be having a discussion of Michael Crichton’s novel The Andromeda Strain on Friday, January 25. Richard Preston will be interviewed.

From Preston’s Facebook page:

I'll be doing a live radio interview on NPR's "Science Friday" tomorrow (Jan. 25) 3:30-4:00 pm EST on Michael Crichton's THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN--"one of the great science fiction novels of all time." We'll talk about the writing of Micro, and discuss The Andromeda Strain and Michael Crichton’s cultural and literary influence.

(Thank you, Laura, for alerting me about this! And shame on you, Google Alerts, for dropping the ball.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jurassic Park: 3D and 4

Mark your calendars!

The original Jurassic Park film will be released in 3D on April 5. For the first week only, we can see it in IMAX.

(And you thought it was scary the first time…)

Jurassic Park 4 is scheduled for release on June 13, 2014. Spielberg is producing the film. What’s interesting is that while there’s a release date, there’s no director named yet. (Forbes speculates that it might be J.J. Abrams.)

Imagine directing a Jurassic Park sequel due to be released in 17 months…talk about pressure.

Related posts:

Spielberg Brainstorms New Jurassic Park Film