Most everyone has heard by now that one of our favorite writers, Michael Crichton, passed away on November 4th. His passing was sudden and, apparently, unexpected. Crichton was an author who could take science and blend it, bend it and mend it until something altogether unbelievable became believable.
I’m not a big reader of biographies, but Michael Crichton’s book entitled TRAVELS (1988), has always held a special fascination for me. After reading the hardcover edition, I quickly sought (and bought) the Signed First Edition, bound in leather by the Easton Press to add to my personal collection. He includes several auto-biographical episodes sporadically throughout the text, one of which involved an especially vivid evening, in the company of many vivid people, spent attempting to bend spoons with his mind (he succeeded with one and kept it in his office). Of course, this book was written at an earlier time in his life (he was 66 at the time of his death) and I’m certain that many, many interesting events have occurred since then that would keep me up reading late into the night.
We have several of Michael’s book on our shelves and collectors have already begun to snatch them up over the last week. To take at look at our current stock, click here .
Many authors use psuedonyms, and Michael Crichton had two he used early in his writing career. His book A CASE OF NEED was written originally in 1968 under the pen name JEFFREY HUDSON, and was eventually issued again in 1993 using his own name. He also wrote at least eight books under the pen name JOHN LANGE. Both of these names were created as tongue-in-cheek attempts to refer to his unusual height (he was six feet 9 inches tall!). Lange is a surname in German meaning tall-one, and Sir Jeffrey Hudson was a famous dwarf back in the 17th century.
He won many awards, among them the Edgar Allen Poe Award for best novel, an Emmy, and a Peabody. A dinosaur was named after him (in honor of Jurassic Park) and he had the rare distinction of being an author who was named to the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine in 1992. He was indeed a handsome man, but his brilliance outshone even those fine looks.
Over the last several years, Michael began talking about global warming. It worried me that someone whose opinions I respected could be skeptical about the causes of the environmental mess we are in right now. I can point out that his stance on environmentalism often seemed to be more about the people (we environmentalists), than about global warming itself. Michael believed profoundly in science — in scientific proofs and protocols. It seemed to worry him greatly when scientists became caught up in what he considered theories (faith), rather than in proofs (science). Faith often breeds extremists or fanatics whom usually operate outside the rules of reason and are often unable to process information that may legitimately contradict their own passionately held beliefs. In this way, he likened many aspects of environmentalism to faith, rather than to science. Michael and I differed greatly in our views about the environment and global warming but I can relate to his concerns regarding fanatics of any belief system.
For all of the Michael Crichton fans out there who yearn for his peculiarly readable tales of “science gone awry”, stay tuned for the release of the book he was working on at the time of his death. It was scheduled to be released this December, but had been pushed back. It remains untitled and currently is scheduled for release in May, 2009.
Michael, you’ll be sorely missed.