"It's not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw." -- Michael Crichton
John Michael Crichton (rhymes with frighten; October 23, 1942 — November 4, 2008), best known as Michael Crichton, was an American author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994, Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at #1 in television, film, and book sales (with ER, Jurassic Park, and Disclosure, respectively).
His literary works are usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomise the techno-thriller genre of literature, often exploring technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes with biotechnology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. Among others, he was the author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Travels, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey, State of Fear, Next (the final book published before his death), Pirate Latitudes (published November 24, 2009), and a final unfinished techno-thriller yet to be released. Forbes listed Crichton in tenth place in its list of "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities" of 2009.
"Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.""Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.""I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.""I tended to faint when I saw accident victims in the emergency ward, during surgery, or while drawing blood.""In the information society, nobody thinks. We expect to banish paper, but we actually banish thought.""Readers probably haven't heard much about it yet, but they will. Quantum technology turns ordinary reality upside down.""The belief that there are other life forms in the universe is a matter of faith. There is not a single shred of evidence for any other life forms, and in forty years of searching, none has been discovered. There is absolutely no evidentiary reason to maintain this belief.""They are focused on whether they can do something. They never think whether they should do something.""We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.""Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had."
John Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, to John Henderson Crichton, a journalist, and Zula Miller Crichton, on October 23, 1942. He was raised on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York, and had three siblings: two sisters, Kimberly and Catherine, and a younger brother, Douglas. Crichton showed a keen interest in writing from a young age and at the age of just 14 had a column related to travel published in The New York Times.
Crichton had always planned on becoming a writer and began his studies at [[Harvard College]] in 1960. During his undergraduate study in literature, he conducted an experiment to catch out a professor who he believed was giving him abnormally low marks and criticizing his literary style. Informing another professor of his suspicions, Crichton [[plagiarism|plagiarized]] a work by [[George Orwell]] and submitted it as his own. The paper was returned by his unwitting professor with a mark of "B?". His issues with the English Department led Crichton to switch his course to [[biological anthropology]] as an [[Undergraduate education|undergraduate]], obtaining his bachelor's degree ''[[wiktionary:summa cum laude|summa cum laude]]'' in 1964. He was also initiated into the [[Phi Beta Kappa Society]]. He went on to become the Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellow from 1964 to 1965 and Visiting Lecturer in [[Anthropology]] at the [[University of Cambridge]] in the United Kingdom in 1965.
Crichton later enrolled at Harvard Medical School when he began publishing work. By this time he had become unusually tall. By his own account, he was approximately 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 meters) tall in 1997. In reference to his height, while in medical school, he began writing novels under the pen names "John Lange" and "Jeffery Hudson" ("Lange" is a surname in Germany, meaning "long", and Sir Jeffrey Hudson was a famous 17th-century dwarf in the court of Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of England). In "Travels", he recalls overhearing doctors discussing the flaws in his book "The Andromeda Strain", unaware that he was its author. "A Case of Need", written under the Hudson pseudonym, won him his first Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1969. He also co-authored "Dealing" with his younger brother Douglas under the shared pen name "Michael Douglas". The back cover of that book carried a picture, taken by their mother, of Michael and Douglas when very young.
Crichton graduated from Harvard, obtaining an M.D. in 1969, and undertook a post-doctoral fellowship study at the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970.
At Harvard he developed the belief that all diseases, including heart attacks, are direct effects of a patient's state of mind. He later wrote: "We cause our diseases. We are directly responsible for any illness that happens to us." Eventually he came to believe in aura, spoon bending, and clairvoyance.
In 1988, Crichton was a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Odds On was Michael Crichton's first published novel. It was published in 1966 under the pseudonym of John Lange. It is a 215-page paperback novel which describes an attempt of robbery in an isolated hotel on Costa Brava. The robbery is planned scientifically with the help of a Critical Path Analysis computer program, but unforeseen events get in the way. The following year he published Scratch One. The novel relates the story of Roger Carr, a handsome, charming and privileged man who practices law, more as a means to support his playboy lifestyle than a career. Carr is sent to Nice, France where he has notable political connections, but is mistaken for an assassin and finds his life in jeopardy, implicated in the world of terrorism. In 1968 he published two novels, Easy Go and A Case of Need, the second of which was re-published in 1993 under his real name. Easy Go relates the story of Harold Barnaby, a brilliant Egyptologist who discovers a concealed message while translating hieroglyphics, informing him of an unnamed Pharaoh whose tomb is yet to be discovered. A Case of Need, on the other hand was a medical thriller in which a Boston pathologist, Dr. John Berry, investigates an apparent illegal abortion conducted by an obstretrician friend which caused the early demise of a young woman. The novel would prove a turning point in Crichton's future novels, in which technology is important in the subject matter, although this novel was as much about medical practice. The novel earned him an Edgar Award in 1969.
In 1969 Crichton published three novels. The first, Zero Cool, dealt with an American radiologist on vacation in Spain who becomes caught in a murderous crossfire between rival gangs seeking a precious artifact. The second, The Andromeda Strain, would prove to be the important novel in his career that established him as a best selling author. The novel documented the efforts of a team of scientists investigating a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism that fatally clots human blood, infecting the sufferer and causing death within two minutes. The microbe, code named "Andromeda", mutates with each growth cycle, changing its biologic properties. The novel became an instant success, and it was only two years before the novel was sought after by film producers and turned into the eponymous 1971 film under the direction of Robert Wise and featuring Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid as Leavitt, and David Wayne. In September 2004, the Sci Fi Channel would announce a production of a miniseries, executive-produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and Frank Darabont, premiering on May 26, 2008. Crichton's third novel of 1969, The Venom Business relates the story of a smuggler who uses his exceptional skill as a snake handler to his advantage by importing snakes to be used by drug companies and universities for medical research. The snakes are simply a ruse to hide the presence of rare Mexican artifacts. In 1969 Crichton also wrote a review for the New Republic (as J. Michael Crichton), critiquing Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
In 1970 Crichton again published three novels: Drug of Choice, Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues and Grave Descend. Grave Descend earned him an Edgar Award nomination the following year.
In 1972 Crichton published two novels. The first, Binary, relates the story of a villainous middle-class businessman who attempts to assassinate the President of the United States by stealing an army shipment of the two precursor chemicals that form a deadly nerve agent. The second, The Terminal Man is about a psychomotor epileptic sufferer, Harry Benson, who in regularly suffering seizures followed by blackouts, conducts himself inappropriately during seizures, waking up hours later with no knowledge of what he has done. Believed to be psychotic, he is investigated, electrodes are implanted in his brain, continuing the trend in Crichton's novels with machine-human interaction and technology. The novel was adapted into a film directed by Mike Hodges and starring George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard A. Dysart and Donald Moffat, released in June 1974. However neither the novel nor the film were well received by critics.
In 1975, Crichton ventured into the nineteenth century with his historical novel The Great Train Robbery, which would become a bestseller. The novel is a recreation of the Great Gold Robbery of 1855, a massive gold heist, which takes place on a train traveling through Victorian era England. A considerable proportion of the book was set in London. The novel was later made into a 1979 film directed by Crichton himself, starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. The film would go on to be nominated for Best Cinematography Award by the British Society of Cinematographers, also garnering an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture by the Mystery Writers Association of America.
In 1976, Crichton published Eaters of the Dead, a novel about a 10th century Muslim who travels with a group of Vikings to their settlement. Eaters of the Dead is narrated as a scientific commentary on an old manuscript and was inspired by two sources. The first three chapters retelling Ahmad ibn Fadlan's personal account of his journey north and his experiences in encountering the Rus', the early Russian peoples, whilst the remainder is based upon the story of Beowulf, culminating in battles with the 'mist-monsters', or 'wendol', a relict group of Neanderthals. The novel was adapted into film as The 13th Warrior, initially directed by John McTiernan, who was later fired with Crichton himself taking over direction.
In 1980, Crichton published the novel Congo, which centers on an expedition searching for diamonds in the tropical rain forest of Congo. They discover the legendary lost city of Zinj and an unusual race of barbarous gorillas. The novel was loosely adapted into a 1995 film, starring Laura Linney, Tim Curry, and Ernie Hudson. Seven years later, Crichton published Sphere, a novel which relates the story of psychologist Norman Johnson, who is required by the U.S. Navy to join a team of scientists assembled by the U.S. Government to examine an enormous alien spacecraft discovered on the bed of the Pacific Ocean, believed to have been there for over 300 years. The novel begins as a science fiction story, but rapidly transforms into a psychological thriller, ultimately exploring the nature of the human imagination. The novel was adapted into the film Sphere in 1998, directed by Barry Levinson, with a cast including Dustin Hoffman as Norman Johnson, (renamed Norman Goodman), Samuel L. Jackson, Liev Schreiber and Sharon Stone.
In 1990, Crichton published the novel Jurassic Park. Crichton utilized the presentation of "fiction as fact", used in his previous novels, Eaters of the Dead and The Andromeda Strain. In addition, chaos theory and its philosophical implications are used to explain the collapse of an amusement park in a "biological preserve" on Isla Nublar, an island west of Costa Rica. Paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student, Ellie Sattler, are brought in by billionaire John Hammond to investigate. The park is revealed to contain genetically recreated dinosaur species, including Dilophosaurus, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex. They have been recreated using damaged dinosaur DNA, found in mosquitoes that sucked Saurian blood and were then trapped and preserved in amber.
Crichton had originally conceived a screenplay about a graduate student who recreates a dinosaur, but decided to explore his fascination with dinosaurs and cloning until he began writing the novel. Spielberg learned of the novel in October 1989 while he and Crichton were discussing a screenplay that would become the television series ER. Before the book was published, Crichton demanded a non-negotiable fee of $1.5 million as well as a substantial percentage of the gross. Warner Bros. and Tim Burton, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Richard Donner, and 20th Century Fox and Joe Dante bid for the rights, but Universal eventually acquired them in May 1990 for Spielberg. Universal paid Crichton a further $500,000 to adapt his own novel, which he had completed by the time Spielberg was filming Hook. Crichton noted that because the book was "fairly long", his script only had about 10—20 percent of the novel's content. The film, directed by Spielberg, was eventually released in 1993, starring Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm (the chaos theorist) and Richard Attenborough as the billionaire CEO of InGen. The film would become extremely successful.
In 1992, Crichton published the novel Rising Sun, an international best-selling crime thriller about a murder in the Los Angeles headquarters of Nakamoto, a fictional Japanese corporation. The book was instantly adapted into a film, released the same year of the movie adaption of Jurassic Park in 1993 and starring Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Tia Carrere and Harvey Keitel. His next novel, Disclosure, published in 1994, addresses the theme of sexual harassment previously explored in his 1972 Binary. Unlike that novel however, Crichton centers on sexual politics in the workplace, emphasising an array of paradoxes in traditional gender functions, by featuring a male protagonist who is being sexually harassed by a female executive. As a result, the book has been harshly criticized by feminist commentators and accused of anti-feminism. Crichton, anticipating this response, offered a rebuttal at the close of the novel which states that a "role-reversal" story uncovers aspects of the subject that would not be as easily seen with a female protagonist. The novel was made into a film the same year under the helm of Barry Levinson, and starring Michael Douglas, Demi Moore and Donald Sutherland.
Crichton then published The Lost World in 1995 as the sequel to Jurassic Park. It was made into a film sequel two years later in 1997, again directed by Spielberg and starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn and Pete Postlethwaite. Then, in 1996, Crichton published Airframe, an aero-techno-thriller which relates the story of a quality assurance vice-president at the fictional aerospace manufacturer Norton Aircraft, as she investigates an in-flight accident aboard a Norton-manufactured airliner that leaves three passengers dead and fifty-six injured. Again, Crichton uses the false document literary device, presenting numerous technical documents to create a sense of authenticity. In the novel, Crichton draws from real life accidents to increase its sensation of realism, including American Airlines Flight 191 and Aeroflot Flight 593; the latter flew from Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) and crashed on its way to Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport in 1994. Crichton challenges the public perception of air safety and the consequences of exaggerated media reports to sell the story. The book also continues Crichton's overall theme of the failure of humans in human-machine interaction, given that the plane itself worked perfectly and the accident would not have occurred had the pilot reacted properly.
In 1999, Crichton published Timeline, a science fiction novel which tells the story of a team of historians and archaeologists studying a site in the Dordogne region of France where the medieval towns of Castelgard and La Roque stood. They time-travel back to 1357 to uncover some startling truths. The novel, which continues Crichton's long history of combining technical details and action in his books, addresses quantum physics and time travel directly. The novel quickly spawned Timeline Computer Entertainment, a computer game developer that created the Timeline PC game published by Eidos Interactive in 2000. A film based on the book was released in 2003 by Paramount Pictures, with a screen adaptation by Jeff Maguire and George Nolfi, under the direction of Richard Donner. The film stars Paul Walker, Gerard Butler and Frances O'Connor.
In 2002, Crichton published Prey, a cautionary tale about developments in science and technology; specifically nanotechnology. The novel explores relatively recent phenomena engendered by the work of the scientific community, such as artificial life, emergence (and by extension, complexity), genetic algorithms, and agent-based computing. Reiterating components in many of his other novels, Crichton once again devises fictional companies, this time Xymos, a nanorobotics company which is claimed to be on the verge of perfecting a revolutionary new medical imaging technology based on nanotechnology and a rival company, MediaTronics.Elements of the novel were utilized in the 2008 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which a swarm of nanobots escape from a secure military facility.
In 2004, Crichton published State of Fear, a novel concerning eco-terrorists who attempt mass murder to support their views. Global warming and climate change serve as a central theme to the novel, and in Appendix I of the book, Crichton warns both sides of the global warming debate against the politicization of science. He provides two examples of the disastrous combination of pseudo-science and politics, the early 20th-century idea of eugenics, which allowed for the Holocaust, and Lysenkoism. The novel had an initial print run of 1.5 million copies and reached the #1 bestseller position at Amazon.com and #2 on the New York Times Best Seller list for one week in January 2005.
The last novel published while he was still living was Next, printed in 2006. The novel follows many characters, including transgenic animals, in the quest to survive in a world dominated by genetic research, corporate greed, and legal interventions where government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research.
His last novel, Pirate Latitudes, was originally scheduled for a release date of December 2, 2008. However, it was postponed until November 24, 2009. Additionally, an unfinished untitled novel is tentatively scheduled for publication in late 2010.
Aside from fiction, Crichton wrote several other books based on medical or scientific themes, often based upon his own observations in his field of expertise. In 1970 he published Five Patients, a book which recounts his experiences of hospital practices in the late 1960s at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. The book follows each of five patients through their hospital experience and the context of their treatment, revealing inadequacies in the hospital institution at the time. The book relates the experiences of Ralph Orlando, a construction worker seriously injured in a scaffold collapse, John O'Connor, a middle aged dispatcher suffering from fever that has reduced him to a delirious wreck, Peter Luchesi, a young man who severs his hand in an accident, Sylvia Thompson, an airline passenger who suffers chest pains, and Edith Murphy, a mother of three who is diagnosed with a life threatening disease. In Five Patients, Crichton examines a brief history of medicine up to 1969 to help place hospital culture and practice into context, and addresses the costs and politics of the national healthcare service. As a personal friend to the artist Jasper Johns, Crichton compiled many of his works in a coffee table book, published as Jasper Johns. It was originally published in 1970 by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in association with the Whitney Museum of American Art and again in January 1977, with a second revised edition published in 1994.
In 1983, Crichton authored Electronic Life, a book that introduces BASIC programming to its readers. The book, written like a glossary, with entries such as "Afraid of Computers (everybody is)," "Buying a Computer," and "Computer Crime", was intended to introduce the idea of personal computers to a reader who might be faced with the hardship of using them at work or at home for the first time. It defined basic computer jargon and assured readers that they could master the machine when it inevitably arrived. In his words, being able to program a computer is liberation; "In my experience, you assert control over a computer...show it who's the boss...by making it do something unique. That means programming it....If you devote a couple of hours to programming a new machine, you'll feel better about it ever afterwards". In the book, Crichton predicts a number of events in the history of computer development, that computer networks would increase in importance as a matter of convenience, including the sharing of information and pictures that we see online today which the telephone never could. He also makes predictions for computer games, dismissing them as "the hula hoops of the '80s", and saying "already there are indications that the mania for twitch games may be fading." In a section of the book called "Microprocessors, or how I flunked biostatistics at Harvard," Crichton again seeks his revenge on the medical school teacher who had given him abnormally low grades in college. Within the book, Crichton included many self-written demonstrative Applesoft (for Apple II) and BASICA (for IBM PC compatibles) programs. He once considered updating it, but the project was canceled.
Then, in 1988, he published Travels, which also contains autobiographical episodes covered in a similar fashion to his 1970 book Five Patients.
Crichton's novels, including Jurassic Park, have been described by The Guardian as "harking back to the fantasy adventure fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Wallace, but with a contemporary spin, assisted by cutting-edge technology references made accessible for the general reader". According to The Guardian, "Michael Crichton wasn't really interested in characters, but his innate talent for storytelling enabled him to breathe new life into the science fiction thriller". Like The Guardian, The New York Times has also noted the boys adventure quality to his novels interfused with modern technology and science. According to The New York Times,
All the Crichton books depend to a certain extent on a little frisson of fear and suspense: that’s what kept you turning the pages. But a deeper source of their appeal was the author’s extravagant care in working out the clockwork mechanics of his experiments ... the DNA replication in Jurassic Park, the time travel in Timeline, the submarine technology in Sphere. The novels have embedded in them little lectures or mini-seminars on, say, the Bernoulli principle, voice-recognition software or medieval jousting etiquette ...
The best of the Crichton novels have about them a boys’ adventure quality. They owe something to the Saturday-afternoon movie serials that Mr. Crichton watched as a boy and to the adventure novels of Arthur Conan Doyle (from whom Mr. Crichton borrowed the title The Lost World and whose example showed that a novel could never have too many dinosaurs). These books thrive on yarn spinning, but they also take immense delight in the inner workings of things (as opposed to people, women especially), and they make the world ... or the made-up world, anyway ... seem boundlessly interesting. Readers come away entertained and also with the belief, not entirely illusory, that they have actually learned something"
—The New York Times on the works of Michael Crichton
Crichton's works were frequently cautionary; his plot often portrayed scientific advancements going awry, commonly resulting in worst-case scenarios. A notable recurring theme in Crichton's plots is the pathological failure of complex systems and their safeguards, whether biological (Jurassic Park), military/organizational (The Andromeda Strain), technical (Airframe) or cybernetic (Westworld). This theme of the inevitable breakdown of "perfect" systems and the failure of "fail-safe measures" can be seen strongly in the poster for Westworld (slogan: "Where nothing can possibly go worng ..." (sic) ) and in the discussion of chaos theory in Jurassic Park.
The use of author surrogate was a feature of Crichton's writings from the beginning of his career. In A Case of Need, one of his pseudonymous whodunit stories, Crichton used first-person narrative to portray the hero, a Bostonian pathologist, who is running against the clock to clear a friend's name from medical malpractice in a girl's death from a hack-job abortion.
Some of Crichton's fiction used a literary technique called false document. For example, Eaters of the Dead is a fabricated recreation of the Old English epic Beowulf in the form of a scholarly translation of Ahmad ibn Fadlan's 10th century manuscript. Other novels, such as The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, incorporated fictionalized scientific documents in the form of diagrams, computer output, DNA sequence, footnotes and bibliography. Some of his novels included authentic published scientific works to illustrate his point, such as in The Terminal Man and State of Fear.
At the prose level, one of Crichton's trademarks was the single word paragraph: a dramatic question answered by a single word on its own as a paragraph.
Crichton wrote or directed several motion pictures and episodes of TV series. In the 1970s in particular he was intent on being a successful filmmaker. His first film, Pursuit (1972), was a TV movie both written and directed by Crichton that is based on his novel Binary.
Westworld was the first feature film that used 2D computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the first use of 3D CGI was in its sequel, Futureworld (1976), which featured a computer-generated hand and face created by then University of Utah graduate students Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke.
Crichton directed the film Coma, adapted from a Robin Cook novel. There are other similarities in terms of genre and the fact that both Cook and Crichton had medical degrees, were of similar age, and wrote about similar subjects.
Other major releases directed by Crichton include The Great Train Robbery (1979), Looker (1981), Runaway (1985), and Physical Evidence (1989). The middle two films were science fiction, set in the very near future at the time, and included particularly flashy styles of filmmaking, for their time.
He wrote the screenplay for the movies Extreme Close Up (1973) and Twister (1996), the latter co-written with Anne-Marie Martin, his wife at the time. Although Jurassic Park and The Lost World were both based on Crichton's novels, Jurassic Park III was not.
Crichton was also the creator and executive producer of the television drama ER. ER was originally slated to be a movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. However, during the early stages of pre-production, Spielberg asked Michael Crichton what his current project was. Crichton said he was working on a novel about dinosaurs and DNA. Spielberg subsequently dropped what he was doing to film this project. Afterwards, he returned to ER and helped develop the show, serving as a producer on season one and offering advice (he insisted on Julianna Margulies becoming a regular, for example). It was also through Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment that John Wells was contacted to be the show's executive producer. In 1994, he achieved the unique distinction of having a #1 movie, Jurassic Park, a #1 TV show, ER, and a #1 book, Disclosure, atop the paperback list.
Amazon is a graphical text adventure game created by Michael Crichton and produced by John Wells under Trillium Corp. Amazon was released in the United States in 1984 and it runs on Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and the DOS systems. It sold more than 100,000 copies, making it a significant commercial success at the time. It featured plot elements similar to those later used in Congo.
In 1999, Crichton founded Timeline Computer Entertainment with David Smith. Despite signing a multi-title publishing deal with Eidos Interactive, only one game was ever published, Timeline. Released on December 8, 2000 for the PC, the game received poor reviews and sold poorly.
Crichton delivered a number of notable speeches in his lifetime.
Intelligence Squared "Global Warming is Not a Crisis" debate
On March 14, 2007, Intelligence Squared held a debate entitled Global Warming is Not a Crisis. Crichton was on the for the motion side along with Richard Lindzen and Philip Stott against Gavin Schmidt, Richard Somerville, and Brenda Ekwurzel. Before the debate, the audience were largely on the Against the motion side at 57% vs 30% in favor of the against side, with a 12% undecided. At the end of the debate, there was a notable shift in the audience vote at 46% vs 42% in favor of the for the motion side leaving the debate with the conclusion that Crichton's group won.
In the debate, although he admitted that man must have at some point contributed to Global Warming but not necessarily caused it, Crichton argued that most of the media and attention of the general public are being dedicated to the uncertain Anthropogenic Global Warming scares instead of the more urgent issues like poverty. He also suggested that Private Jets be banned as they add more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for the benefit of the few who could afford them.
Global Warming is Not a Crisis Intelligence Squared debatesMarch 14, 2007
Genetic research and legislative needs
While writing Next, Crichton concluded that laws covering genetic research desperately needed to be revised, and spoke to Congressional staff members about problems ahead.A Talk to Legislative StaffersWashington, D.C.September 14, 2006
Complexity theory and environmental management
In previous speeches, Crichton criticized environmental groups for failing to incorporate complexity theory. Here he explains in detail why complexity theory is essential to environmental management, using the history of Yellowstone Park as an example of what not to do.Washington Center for Complexity and Public PolicyWashington, D.C.November 6, 2005
Testimony before the United States Senate
Crichton argued for independent verification of research used for public policy, and criticized the so-called "hockeystick" study, for reasons that were the subject of intense debate by U.S. LegislatorsCommittee on Environment and Public WorksWashington, D.C.
Caltech Michelin Lecture
"Aliens Cause Global Warming" January 17, 2003. In the spirit of his science fiction writing Crichton details the fallacy of Carl Sagan's nuclear winter and SETI Drake equations relative to Global Warming alarmism.
The Case for Skepticism on Global Warming
Crichton's detailed explanation of why he criticizes global warming scenarios. Using published UN data, he reviews why claims for catastrophic warming arouse doubt; why reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than we are being told; and why we are morally unjustified to spend vast sums on this speculative issue when around the world people are dying of starvation and disease.National Press ClubWashington, D.CJanuary 25, 2005
Science Policy in the 21st Century
We need better mechanisms to determine science policy. Crichton outlined several issues before a joint meeting of liberal and conservative think tanks.Joint Session AEI-Brookings InstitutionWashington, D.C.January 25, 2005
Environmentalism as Religion
This was not the first discussion of environmentalism as a religion, but it caught on and was widely quoted. Crichton explains why religious approaches to the environment are inappropriate and cause damage to the natural world they intend to protect.Commonwealth ClubSan Francisco, CaliforniaSeptember 15, 2003
In recent years, media has increasingly turned away from reporting what has happened to focus on speculation about what may happen in the future. Paying attention to modern media is thus a waste of time.International Leadership ForumLa Jolla, CaliforniaApril 26, 2002
Ritual Abuse, Hot Air, and Missed Opportunities: Science Views Media
The AAAS invited Crichton to address scientists' concerns about how they are portrayed in the media.American Association for the Advancement of ScienceAnaheim, CaliforniaJanuary 25, 1999
Mediasaurus: The Decline of Conventional Media
A 1993 speech which predicted the decline of mainstream media.National Press ClubWashington, D.C.April 7, 1993
Many of Crichton's publicly expressed views, particularly on subjects like the global warming controversy, have been contested by a number of scientists and commentators. An example is meteorologist Jeffrey Masters' review of State of Fear:
Peter Doran, author of the paper in the January 2002 issue of Nature which reported the finding referred to above that some areas of Antarctica had cooled between 1986 and 2000, wrote an opinion piece in the July 27, 2006 New York Times in which he stated "Our results have been misused as 'evidence' against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel State of Fear."Al Gore said on March 21, 2007 before a U.S. House committee: "The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor [...] if your doctor tells you you need to intervene here, you don't say 'Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem'." This has been recognized by several commentators as a reference to State of Fear.
In his 2006 novel Next (released November 28 of that year), Crichton introduced a character named "Mick Crowley" who is a Yale graduate and a Washington D.C.-based political columnist. "Crowley" was portrayed by Crichton as a child molester with a small penis. From page 227 as quoted in the New York Times: “Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers.” The character is a minor one who does not appear elsewhere in the book.
A real person named Michael Crowley is also a Yale graduate, and a senior editor of The New Republic, a liberal Washington D.C.-based political magazine. In March 2006, the real Crowley had written an article strongly critical of Crichton for his stance on global warming in State of Fear. Crowley responded by saying that he was “strangely flattered” by his reference in Crichton’s novel. “To explain why, let me propose a corollary to the small penis rule,” he wrote. “Call it the small man rule: If someone offers substantive criticism of an author and the author responds by hitting below the belt, as it were, then he’s conceding that the critic has won.”
Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award, Best Novel, 1969 ... A Case of Need
Association of American Medical Writers Award, 1970
Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award, Best Motion Picture, 1980 ... The Great Train Robbery
Named to the list of the "Fifty Most Beautiful People" by People magazine, 1992
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Technical Achievement Award, 1995
Writers Guild of America Award, Best Long Form Television Script of 1995
George Foster Peabody Award, 1994 ... ER
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, 1996 ... ER
Ankylosaur named Crichtonsaurus bohlini, 2002
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Journalism Award, 2006
Phi Beta Kappa
Writers Guild of America
P.E.N. America Center
Directors Guild of America
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
Member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Board of Directors, International Design Conference at Aspen, 1985—91
Board of Trustees, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, La Jolla, 1986—91
Board of Overseers, Harvard University, 1990—96
Board of Directors, Drug Strategies, 1994—2008
Author's Guild Council, 1995—2008
Board of Directors, Gorilla Foundation, 2002—2008
Board of Trustees, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2006—2008
As an adolescent Crichton felt isolated because of his height (at 6'9"). As an adult he was acutely aware of his intellect which often left him feeling alienated from the people around him. During the 1970s and 1980s he consulted psychics and enlightenment gurus to make him feel more socially acceptable and to improve his karma. As a result of these experiences, Crichton practiced meditation throughout much of his life. Crichton was a workaholic. When drafting a novel which would typically take him six or seven weeks, Crichton withdrew completely to follow what he called "a structured approach" of ritualistic self-denial. As he neared writing the end of each book, he would rise increasingly earlier each day, meaning that he would sleep for less than 4 hours by going to bed at 10pm and waking at 2am.
In 1992 Crichton was ranked among People magazine's 50 most beautiful people. Crichton married five times, four of the marriages ending in divorce. He was married to Suzanna Childs, Joan Radam (1965—1970), Kathy St. Johns (1978—1980), and actress Anne-Marie Martin (1987—2003), the mother of his daughter Taylor Anne (born 1989). At the time of his death, Crichton was married to Sherri Alexander, who was six months pregnant with their son. John Michael Todd Crichton was born on February 12, 2009.
Crichton had an impressive collection of 20th Century American Art, which was auctioned by Christie's in May 2010.
In Nov 2006 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Crichton jokingly considered himself an expert in intellectual property law. He had been involved in several lawsuits with others claiming credit for his work. In 1985, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard Berkic v. Crichton, 761 F.2d 1289 (1985). Plaintiff Ted Berkic wrote a screenplay called "Reincarnation Inc.," which he claims Crichton plagiarized for the movie Coma. The court ruled in Crichton's favor stating the works were not substantially similar. In 1996, Williams v. Crichton, 84 F.3d 581 (2d Cir. 1996), Geoffrey Williams claimed that Jurassic Park violated his copyright covering his dinosaur themed children's stories published in the late 1980s. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Crichton. In 1998, A United States District Court in Missouri heard the case of Kessler v. Crichton that actually went all the way to a jury trial, unlike the other cases. Plaintiff Stephen Kessler claimed the movie Twister was based on his work "Catch the Wind." It took the jury about 45 minutes to reach a verdict in favor of Crichton. After the verdict, Crichton refused to shake Kessler's hand. At the Press Club in 2006, Crichton summarized his intellectual property legal problems by stating, "I always win."
Given the private way in which Crichton lived his life, his battle with throat cancer was not made public until his death. According to Crichton's brother Douglas, Michael was diagnosed with lymphoma in early 2008. He was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time of his death. Crichton's physicians and family members had been expecting him to make a recovery. He unexpectedly died of the disease on November 4, 2008.
Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park.' He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the earth. In the early days, Michael had just sold 'The Andromeda Strain' to Robert Wise at Universal and I had recently signed on as a contract TV director there. My first assignment was to show Michael Crichton around the Universal lot. We became friends and professionally 'Jurassic Park,' 'ER,' and 'Twister' followed. Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.