Sunday, April 19, 2009

Writers rise from the dead, too

Crichton during one of his talks at the Harvard Medical School

I'm not talking about writers reappearing as zombies, elegantly dressed vampires, or divine apparitions. I'm talking about their works. It appears that Michael Crichton, the author known for incorporating cutting-edge technology in his fictional works, has kept manuscripts of two novels (one of them unfinished) when he died at age 66. Unless there's a vault of unfinished manuscripts hidden in Crichton's estate, this will be the last time Crichton fans will get their fix.

I'm not big on Crichton, but I've read Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Timeline, and, more recently, State of Fear. Jurassic Park and The Lost World really set the standard for techno-thrillers. They're perfect reads while on the train or soaking in the bath tub. Ironically, Crichton's novels, despite being based on science (supposedly), don't require as many brain cells to fully appreciate them as compared with, say, the novels of Murakami or Palahniuk. Much as I'd enjoyed his dinosaurs-coming-back-to-life-as-top-of-the-foodchain tall tales, I think Crichton doesn't merit re-reading. If you do, you'd be surprised that you didn't immediately catch the pretentious writing and his superfluous treatment of characters. Still, one can't say that Crichton's novels aren't entertaining; each chapter practically ends in a cliffhanger, urging the reader to go on.

I remember one time when I was hungry for a quick read so I bought State of Fear. No self-respecting rational individual would believe Crichton's claims in the novel that, contrary to public perception, the global warming phenomenon is totally made up. Yes, that's correct. Crichton, who gained his following with his technology-based novels, is saying that surface temperatures are actually stable and, perhaps, even getting cooler. He even included several footnotes throughout the novel just to support his thesis. Unless you think there really is a huge ball of alien matter found in the ocean or that crazy monkeys can murder scientists in the Congo, this novel is a gas. It merely adds to the confusion regarding this sensitive issue. If Crichton really believed that there's no such thing as global warming, he should've simply contributed article to scientific journals such as Nature. That would probably have a bigger impact.

I have no doubt that Crichton's last two works would be bestsellers. His publisher's probably counting the potential earnings from these novels. Critics, on the other hand, would be sharpening their knives. Hmmmm... I did write something about reader's block here, and if you do get reader's block, then you're probably better off reading a Crichton novel which can be engaging in some parts. Just read the novel as fast as you can, lest you realize how totally improbable the plot is.

Crichton's uneven oeuvre
A good rule to follow is if the book involves dinosaurs,
then you'd probably enjoy it.


fantaghiro23 said...

I read that they're actually getting someone to finish the unfinished novel. It's a new thing they're doing with authors these days.

Yep, Crichton doesn't merit rereading. To me, he reads like a masters thesis, but with plot and very little characterization.:)

Peter Michael C. Sandico said...

Hi Honey! Thanks for the comment! I'll be watching the TV show tomorrow you mentioned in Facebook.

I Heart Monster said...

Oh I loved Crichton! Good to know there might be more of him to come. My favorite was NEXT.

Mike said...

Peter try reading "The Andromeda Strain". The biochem is pretty darn accurate and is my fave Crichton of all time. It was one of the books I read as a highschool kid that inspired me to be a microbiologist.

-Mike Bahrami

Thomas said...

I agree with Mike about The Andromeda Strain!

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