John Michael Crichton (/ˈkraɪtən/; October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008) was an American author, screenwriter, and film director and producer best known for his work in the science fiction, thriller, and medical fiction genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and over a dozen have been adapted into films.
His literary works are usually within the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomize 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 novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and scientific background. He wrote, among other works, The Andromeda Strain (1969), The Great Train Robbery (1975), Congo (1980), Sphere (1987), Jurassic Park (1990), Rising Sun (1992), Disclosure (1994), The Lost World (1995), Airframe (1996), Timeline (1999), Prey (2002), State of Fear (2004), and Next (2006). Films he wrote and directed included Westworld (1973), Coma (1978), The Great Train Robbery (1979), Looker (1981), and Runaway (1984).
Crichton at Harvard University in 2002
|Born||John Michael Crichton|
October 23, 1942
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||November 4, 2008 (aged 66)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Pen name||John Lange|
|Occupation||Author, screenwriter, film director, film producer, television producer|
|Education||Harvard College (A.B.) |
Harvard Medical School (M.D.)
|Genre||Action, adventure, science fiction, techno-thriller|
|Notable awards||1969 Edgar Award|
|Spouse||Joan Radam (1965–1970)|
Kathy St. Johns (1978–1980)
Suzanne Childs (1981–1983)
Anne-Marie Martin (1987–2003)
Sherri Alexander (2005–2008; his death)
John Michael Crichton was born on October 23, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to John Henderson Crichton, a journalist, and Zula Miller Crichton. He was raised on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York, and showed a keen interest in writing from a young age; at 14, he had an article about a trip he took to Sunset Crater published in The New York Times.
Crichton later recalled, "Roslyn was another world. Looking back, it's remarkable what wasn't going on. There was no terror. No fear of children being abused. No fear of random murder. No drug use we knew about. I walked to school. I rode my bike for miles and miles, to the movie on Main Street and piano lessons and the like. Kids had freedom. It wasn't such a dangerous world... We studied our butts off, and we got a tremendously good education there."
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 expose a professor who he believed was giving him abnormally low marks and criticizing his literary style.:4 Informing another professor of his suspicions, Crichton submitted an essay by George Orwell under his own name. The paper was returned by his unwitting professor with a mark of "B−".
He later said, "Now Orwell was a wonderful writer, and if a B-minus was all he could get, I thought I'd better drop English as my major."
His issues with the English department led Crichton to switch his undergraduate concentration; he obtained his bachelor's degree in biological anthropology summa cum laude in 1964 and was initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He received a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship from 1964 to 1965 and was a visiting lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965.
Crichton later said "about two weeks into medical school I realised I hated it. This isn't unusual since everyone hates medical school - even happy, practising physicians."
In 1965 while at medical school he wrote a novel Odds On. "I wrote for furniture and groceries," he said later. Odds On is a 215-page paperback novel which describes an attempted 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.
Crichton submitted it to Doubleday where a reader liked it but did not feel it was for that company; they passed it on to New American Library who published it in 1966. Crichton used the name John Lange because at this stage he planned to be a doctor and did not want his patients worried he would use them for his plots. The name came from a fairy tale writer called Andrew Lang; Crichton added an "e" and substituted his own real first name, John, for Andrew. The novel was successful enough to lead to a series of John Lange novels. (Film rights were sold in 1969 but no movie resulted.)
The second Lange novel was Scratch One (1967). 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. Crichton wrote the book while travelling through Europe on a travel fellowship. He visited the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix and then decided "any idiot should be able to write a potboiler set in Cannes and Monaco" and wrote it in eleven days. He later described the book as "no good".
His third John Lange novel was Easy Go (1968), 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. He later said the book earned him $1,500.
Crichton later said "My feeling about the Lange books is that my competition is in-flight movies. One can read the books in an hour and a half, and be more satisfactorily amused than watching Doris Day. I write them fast and the reader reads them fast and I get things off my back."
Crichton's fourth novel was A Case of Need (1968), a medical thriller in which a Boston pathologist, Dr. John Berry, investigates an apparent illegal abortion conducted by an obstetrician friend, which caused the early demise of a young woman. The novel had a different tone to the Lange books; accordingly, Crichton used the pen name "Jeffrey Hudson", based on Sir Jeffrey Hudson, a famous 17th-century dwarf in the court of Queen consort Henrietta Maria of England). 
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. He intended to use the "Jeffrey Hudson" for other medical novels but ended up using it only once. He sold the film rights (it would be turned into The Carey Treatment.)
Crichton says after he finished his third year of medical school "I stopped believing that one day I'd love it and realised that what I loved was writing".
He continued to write Lange novels: Zero Cool (1969), dealt with an American radiologist on vacation in Spain who is caught in a murderous crossfire between rival gangs seeking a precious artifact. 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.
The first novel that was published under Crichton's name was The Andromeda Strain (1969), which would prove to be the most important novel of his career and establish 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, causing death within two minutes.
Crichton was inspired to write it after reading The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton while studying in England. Crichton says he was "terrifically impressed" by the book - "a lot of Andromeda is traceable to Ipcress in terms of trying to create an imaginary world using recogniseable techniques and real people." He wrote the novel over three years.
During his clinical rotations at the Boston City Hospital, Crichton grew disenchanted with the culture there, which appeared to emphasize the interests and reputations of doctors over the interests of patients. He graduated from Harvard, obtaining an MD in 1969, and undertook a post-doctoral fellowship study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, from 1969 to 1970. He never obtained a license to practice medicine, devoting himself to his writing career instead.
Reflecting on his career in medicine years later, Crichton concluded that patients too often shunned responsibility for their own health, relying on doctors as miracle workers rather than advisors. He experimented with astral projection, aura viewing, and clairvoyance, coming to believe that these included real phenomena that scientists had too eagerly dismissed as paranormal.
1970 saw the publication of three more Crichton books under pseudonyms. Two were Lange novels,Drug of Choice and Grave Descend. Grave Descend earned him an Edgar Award nomination the following year.
There was also Dealing: or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues written with his younger brother Douglas Crichton. Dealing was written under the pen name 'Michael Douglas', using their first names. Crichton wrote it "completely from beginning to end". Then his brother rewrote it from beginning to end, and then Crichton rewrote it again.
This novel was adapted to the big screen in 1972.
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 American healthcare.
As a personal friend of 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 1972, Crichton published his last novel as John Lange: 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 Terminal Man (1972), 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 preoccupation in Crichton's novels with machine-human interaction and technology.
ABC TV wanted to buy the film rights to Crichton's novel Binary. The author agreed on the proviso that he could direct the film. ABC agreed provided someone other than Crichton wrote the script. The result, Pursuit (1972) was a ratings success.
Crichton then wrote and directed the 1973 science fiction western-thriller film Westworld, which was his feature film directorial debut. It was the first feature film using 2D computer-generated imagery (CGI).
Crichton was hired to adapt his novel The Terminal Man into a script by Warner Bros. The studio felt he had departed from the source material too much and had another writer adapt it for the 1974 film.
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 portion of the book was set in London.
Crichton had become aware of the story when lecturing at Cambridge University. He later read the transcripts of the court trial and started researching the historical period. The book was a best seller.
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 retell 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.
He wrote and directed the suspense film Coma, adapted from a novel by Robin Cook, a friend of Crichton's. 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. The film was a popular success.
Crichton then wrote and directed an adaptation of his own book, The First Great Train Robbery (1978) 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.
Crichton pitched the idea of a modern day King Solomon's Mines to 20th Century Fox who paid him $1.5 million for the film rights to the novel, a screenplay and directorial fee for the movie, before a word had been written. He had never worked that way before, usually writing the book then selling it. He eventually managed to finish the book and it became a best seller.
During the 1980s Crichton came close to directing a film of Congo with Sean Connery but the film did not happen. Eventually a film version was made in 1995 by another director.
In 1984 Telarium released a graphic adventure based on Congo. Because Crichton had sold all adaptation rights to the novel, he set the game—named Amazon—in South America, and Amy the gorilla became Paco the parrot.
In 1983, Crichton wrote 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 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.
Crichton started a company selling a computer program he had originally written to help him create budgets for his movies.
Crichton wrote and directed Runaway (1984), a police thriller set in the near future which was a box office disappointment.
Crichton began writing Sphere in 1967 as a companion piece to The Andromeda Strain. His initial storyline began with American scientists discovering a 300-year-old spaceship underwater with stenciled markings in English. However, Crichton later realized that he "didn't know where to go with it" and put off completing the book until a later date. The novel was published in 1987.
It 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, and believed to have been there for over 300 years. The novel begins as a science fiction story, but rapidly changes into a psychological thriller, ultimately exploring the nature of the human imagination. The novel was adapted into the 1998 film directed by Barry Levinson and starring Dustin Hoffman.
In 1987 Crichton was still hoping to make a film of Congo with Connery and Crichton himself directing but this did not eventuate.
A book of autobiographical writings, Travels was published in 1988.
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, a fictional island to the west of Costa Rica. Paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student, Ellie Sattler, are brought 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 had sucked their blood and then became trapped and preserved in amber.
Crichton originally had 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.
Steven 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 the rights 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% to 20% of the novel's content. The film, directed by Spielberg, was released in 1993. The film became 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 adapted into the 1993 film directed by Philip Kaufman and starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes, released the same year as the adaption of Jurassic Park.
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, emphasizing 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 criticized harshly 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 seen as easily with a female protagonist. The novel was made into a film the same year, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.
Crichton was the creator and an executive producer of the television drama ER based on his 1974 pilot script 24 Hours. Steven Spielberg helped develop the show, serving as an executive 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, Crichton achieved the unique distinction of having a No. 1 movie, Jurassic Park, a No. 1 TV show, ER, and a No. 1 book, Disclosure.
Crichton then published The Lost World in 1995 as the sequel to Jurassic Park. It was made into the 1997 film two years later, again directed by Spielberg." In March 1994, Crichton said there would probably be a sequel novel as well as a film adaptation, stating that he had an idea for the novel's story.
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 56 injured. The book continues Crichton's overall theme of the failure of humans in human-machine interaction, given that the plane 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 and received a warm welcome from medieval scholars, who praised his depiction of the challenges in studying the Middle Ages.
The novel quickly spawned Timeline Computer Entertainment, a computer game developer that created the Timeline PC game published by Eidos Interactive in 2000. A 2003 film based on the book was directed by Richard Donner and starring Paul Walker, Gerard Butler and Frances O'Connor.
In 2002, Crichton published Prey, 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.
In 2004, Crichton published State of Fear, a novel concerning eco-terrorists who attempt mass murder to support their views. Global warming serves as a central theme to the novel, although a review in Nature found it "likely to mislead the unwary". The novel had an initial print run of 1.5 million copies and reached the No. 1 bestseller position at Amazon.com and No. 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 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, wherein government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research.
Pirate Latitudes was found as a manuscript on one of his computers after his death and was published in November 2009. Additionally, Crichton had completed the outline for and was roughly a third of the way through a novel titled Micro. Micro was completed by Richard Preston and was published in November 2011.
On February 26, 2019, Crichton's website and HarperCollins announced the publication of The Andromeda Strain Evolution the sequel to Andromeda Strain, a collaboration with CrichtonSun LLC. and author Daniel H. Wilson. It will be released on November 12, 2019.
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 plots 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), militaristic/organizational (The Andromeda Strain), technological (Airframe), or cybernetic (Westworld). This theme of the inevitable breakdown of "perfect" systems and the failure of "fail-safe measures" strongly can be seen in the poster for Westworld, whose slogan was, "Where nothing can possibly go worng [sic]", and in the discussion of chaos theory in Jurassic Park. His 1973 movie Westworld contains one of the earlier references to a computer virus and the first mention of the concept of a computer virus in a movie. Crichton believed, however, that his view of technology had been misunderstood as
being out there, doing bad things to us people, like we're inside the circle of covered wagons and technology is out there firing arrows at us. We're making the technology and it is a manifestation of how we think. To the extent that we think egotistically and irrationally and paranoically and foolishly, then we have technology that will give us nuclear winters or cars that won't brake. But that's because people didn't design them right.
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.
Crichton's has used the literary technique known as the false document. Eaters of the Dead is a "recreation" of the Old English epic Beowulf presented as a scholarly translation of Ahmad ibn Fadlan's 10th century manuscript. The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park incorporate fictionalized scientific documents in the form of diagrams, computer output, DNA sequences, footnotes and bibliography. The Terminal Man and State of Fear include authentic published scientific works which illustrate the premise point.
Crichton often employs the premise of diverse experts or specialists assembled to tackle a unique problem requiring their individual talents and knowledge. The premise was used for The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, Jurassic Park, and to a lesser extent, Timeline. Sometimes the individual characters in this dynamic work in the private sector and are suddenly called upon by the government to form an immediate response team once some incident or discovery triggers their mobilization. This premise or plot device has been imitated and used by other authors and screenwriters in several books, movies and television shows since.
At the prose level, a Crichton's trademark is the single-word paragraph. A dramatic question is answered by a single word on its own.
Amazon is a graphical adventure game created by Crichton and produced by John Wells. Trillium released it in the United States in 1984, and the game runs on Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and DOS. Amazon sold more than 100,000 copies, making it a significant commercial success at the time. It featured plot elements similar to those previously 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 November 10, 2000, for the PC, the game received negative reviews.
|1966||Odds On||as John Lange|||
|1967||Scratch One||as John Lange|||
|1968||Easy Go||as John Lange (also titled as The Last Tomb)|||
|1968||A Case of Need||as Jeffery Hudson (re-released as Crichton in 1993)|||
|1969||Zero Cool||as John Lange|||
|1969||The Andromeda Strain|||
|1969||The Venom Business||as John Lange|||
|1970||Drug of Choice||as John Lange (also titled Overkill)|||
|1970||Dealing||as Michael Douglas (with brother Douglas Crichton)|||
|1970||Grave Descend||as John Lange|||
|1972||Binary||as John Lange (re-released as by Crichton in 1993)|||
|1972||The Terminal Man|||
|1975||The Great Train Robbery|||
|1976||Eaters of the Dead||also titled The 13th Warrior|||
|1995||The Lost World|||
|2004||State of Fear|||
|2009||Pirate Latitudes||posthumous publication|||
|2011||Micro||posthumous publication (completed by Richard Preston)|||
|2017||Dragon Teeth||posthumous publication|||
|1957||"Johnny at 8:30"||First Words (1993)||poem|
|1960||"[Untitled]"||First Words (1993)||fan titled Well, Nothing.|
|1961||"Life Goes to a Party"||First Words (1993)|
|1961||"The Most Important Part of the Lab"||First Words (1993)|
|1968||"Villa of Assassins"||Stag Annual (1968)||as John Lange; excerpted from Scratch One (1967)|
|1968||"How Does That Make You Feel?"||Playboy (November 1968)||as Jeffrey Hudson|
|1970||"The Death Divers"||Man's World (December 1970)||as John Lange; excerpted from Grave Descend (1970)|
|1971||"The Most Powerful Tailor in the World"||Playboy (September 1971)|
|1984||"Mousetrap: A Tale of Computer Crime"||Life (January 1984)|
|2003||"Blood Doesn't Come Out"||McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (2003)|
|1972||Pursuit (TV film)||Novel and director|
|1973||Extreme Close-Up (a.k.a. Sex Through A Window)||Screenwriter|
|1979||The Great Train Robbery||Novel, screenwriter-director|
|1993||Jurassic Park||Novel author and co-screenwriter|
|Rising Sun||Novel author and co-screenwriter|
|1994||Disclosure||Novel author and producer|
|1996||Twister||Co-writer and producer|
|1999||The 13th Warrior||Novel author, producer and director of reshoots|
|1994–2009||ER||Creator, writer and executive producer|
|1971||The Andromeda Strain||Robert Wise|
|1972||Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues||Paul Williams|
|The Carey Treatment (A Case of Need)||Blake Edwards|
|1974||The Terminal Man||Mike Hodges|
|1979||The Great Train Robbery||Michael Crichton|
|1993||Jurassic Park||Steven Spielberg|
|Rising Sun||Philip Kaufman|
|1997||The Lost World: Jurassic Park||Steven Spielberg|
|1999||The 13th Warrior (Eaters of the Dead)||John McTiernan|
|2001||Jurassic Park III (based on characters created by Crichton)||Joe Johnston|
|2015||Jurassic World (based on characters created by Crichton)||Colin Trevorrow|
|2018||Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (based on characters created by Crichton)||J. A. Bayona|
|1976||Futureworld (sequel to Westworld)||Richard T. Heffron|
|1980||Beyond Westworld||CBS||Lou Shaw|
|2016–present||Westworld||HBO||J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy|
|2008||The Andromeda Strain||A&E Network||Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Mikael Salomon|
|TBA||Dragon Teeth||National Geographic||TBA|
Crichton delivered a number of notable speeches in his lifetime.
On March 14, 2007, Intelligence Squared held a debate in New York City titled Global Warming Is Not a Crisis, moderated by Brian Lehrer. Crichton was on the for the motion side with Richard Lindzen and Philip Stott against Gavin Schmidt, Richard Somerville, and Brenda Ekwurzel. Before the debate, the audience was largely on the 'against the motion' side (57% vs. 30%, with 13% undecided). At the end of the debate, there was a notable shift in the audience vote to prefer 'for the motion' side (46% vs. 42%, with 12% undecided), leaving the debate with the conclusion that Crichton's group won. Schmidt later described the debate in a RealClimate blog posting, "Crichton went with the crowd-pleasing condemnation of private jet-flying liberals (very popular, even among the private jet-flying Eastsiders present) and the apparent hypocrisy of people who think that global warming is a problem using any energy at all." While those against the motion had presented the agreed scientific consensus of IPCC reports, the audience was "apparently more convinced by the entertaining narratives from Crichton and Stott (not so sure about Lindzen) than they were by our drier fare. Entertainment-wise it's hard to blame them. Crichton is extremely polished and Stott has a touch of the revivalist preacher about him. Comparatively, we were pretty dull." Even though Crichton inspired a lot of blog responses and it was considered one of his best rhetorical performances, reception to his message was mixed.
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.
The AAAS invited Crichton to address scientists' concerns about how they are portrayed in the media, delivered to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim, California on January 25, 1999.
This was not the first discussion of environmentalism as a religion, but it caught on and was widely quoted. Crichton explains his view that religious approaches to the environment are inappropriate and cause damage to the natural world they intend to protect. The speech was delivered to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, California on September 15, 2003.
On January 25, 2005 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Crichton delivered a detailed explanation of why he criticized the consensus view on global warming. Using published UN data, he argued that claims for catastrophic warming arouse doubt; that reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than is commonly presumed; and why societies are morally unjustified in spending vast sums on a speculative issue when people around the world are dying of starvation and disease.
"Aliens Cause Global Warming" January 17, 2003. In the spirit of his science fiction writing Crichton details research on nuclear winter and SETI Drake equations relative to global warming science.
Together with climate scientists, Crichton was invited to testify before the Senate in September 2005, as an expert witness on global warming. The speech was delivered to the Committee on Environment and Public Works in Washington, D.C.
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. The speech was delivered to the Washington Center for Complexity and Public Policy in Washington, D.C. on November 6, 2005.
While writing Next, Crichton concluded that laws covering genetic research desperately needed to be revised, and spoke to congressional staff members about problems ahead. The speech was delivered to a group of legislative staffers in Washington, D.C. on September 14, 2006.
Most of Crichton's novels address issues emerging in scientific research fields. In quite a few of his novels (Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Next, Congo), genomics plays an important role. Usually, the drama revolves around the sudden eruption of a scientific crisis, revealing the disruptive impacts new forms of knowledge and technology may have, as is stated in The Andromeda Strain, Crichton's first science novel: "This book recounts the five-day history of a major American scientific crisis" (1969, p. 3).
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's review of State of Fear:
Flawed or misleading presentations of global warming science exist in the book, including those on Arctic sea ice thinning, correction of land-based temperature measurements for the urban heat island effect, and satellite vs. ground-based measurements of Earth's warming. I will spare the reader additional details. On the positive side, Crichton does emphasize the little-appreciated fact that while most of the world has been warming the past few decades, most of Antarctica has seen a cooling trend. The Antarctic ice sheet is actually expected to increase in mass over the next 100 years due to increased precipitation, according to the IPCC."
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, The 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 interpreted by several commentators as a reference to State of Fear.
In 2006, Crichton clashed with journalist Michael Crowley, a senior editor of the magazine The New Republic. In March 2006, Crowley wrote a strongly critical review of State of Fear, focusing on Crichton's stance on global warming. In the same year, Crichton published the novel Next, which contains a minor character named "Mick Crowley", who is a Yale graduate and a Washington, D.C.-based political columnist. The character was portrayed as a child molester with a small penis. The character does not appear elsewhere in the book. The real Crowley, also a Yale graduate, alleged that by including a similarly named character Crichton had libeled him.
As an adolescent Crichton felt isolated because of his height (6 ft 9 in, or 206 cm). 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. He was a deist.
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 early each day, meaning that he would sleep for less than four hours by going to bed at 10 pm and waking at 2 am.
He married five times. Four of the marriages ended in divorce: with Joan Radam (1965–1970), Kathleen St. Johns (1978–1980), Suzanna Childs (1981–1983), 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 (2005–2008), who was six months pregnant with their son; John Michael Todd Crichton was born on February 12, 2009.
In November 2006, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Crichton joked that he 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 the 1996 case, 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 (1996) 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 National Press Club in 2006, Crichton summarized his intellectual property legal problems by stating, "I always win."
According to Crichton's brother Douglas, Crichton was diagnosed with lymphoma in early 2008. In accordance with the private way in which Crichton lived, his cancer was not made public until his death. He was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time of his death, and Crichton's physicians and relatives had been expecting him to recover. He died at age 66 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 walking the earth again. 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.— Steven Spielberg on Michael Crichton's death
As a pop novelist, he was divine. A Crichton book was a headlong experience driven by a man who was both a natural storyteller and fiendishly clever when it came to verisimilitude; he made you believe that cloning dinosaurs wasn't just over the horizon but possible tomorrow. Maybe today.— Stephen King on Crichton, 2008
On April 6, 2009, Crichton's publisher, HarperCollins, announced the posthumous publication of two of his novels. The first was Pirate Latitudes (published posthumously on November 26, 2009), found completed on his computer by his assistant after he died. This was the second of a two-novel deal that started with Next.
The other novel, titled Micro (published posthumously in 2011), is a techno-thriller that explores the outer edges of new science and technology. The novel is based on Crichton's notes and files, and was roughly a third of the way finished when he died. HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham and Crichton's agent Lynn Nesbit looked for a co-writer to finish the novel; ultimately, Richard Preston was chosen to complete the book.
On July 28, 2016, Crichton's website and HarperCollins announced the publication of a third novel, Dragon Teeth, which was written in 1974 and published in 2017. It is an historical novel set during the Bone Wars.
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On Page 227 Mr. Crichton writes: '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.' Mick Crowley is described as a 'wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate' with a small penis that nonetheless 'caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.'
Beyond Westworld was a 1980 American television series based on the film Westworld, which was written and directed by Michael Crichton. It ignored the 1976 motion picture sequel Futureworld.Coma (1978 film)
Coma is a 1978 Metrocolor American suspense film in Panavision based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Robin Cook. The film rights were acquired by director Michael Crichton, and the movie was produced by Martin Erlichmann for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The cast includes Geneviève Bujold, Michael Douglas, Elizabeth Ashley, Richard Widmark, and Rip Torn. Among the actors in smaller roles are Tom Selleck, Lois Chiles, and Ed Harris.
The story was adapted again into a two-part television miniseries broadcast September 2012 on A&E television network.Eaters of the Dead
Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in AD 922 (later republished as The 13th Warrior to correspond with the film adaptation of the novel) is a 1976 novel by Michael Crichton. The story is about a 10th-century Muslim Arab who travels with a group of Vikings to their settlement.
Crichton explains in an appendix that the book was based on two sources. The first three chapters are a retelling of Ahmad ibn Fadlan's personal account of his actual journey north and his experiences with and observations of Vikings (probably from Sweden). The remainder is based upon the story of Beowulf.Jasper Johns (book)
Jasper Johns is a non-fiction coffee table book written by Michael Crichton about the artist Jasper Johns. It was originally published in 1977 by Harry N. Abrams Inc in association with the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a second revised edition (ISBN 0810935155) was published in 1994.
The psychiatrist Janet Ross owned a copy of the painting Numbers by Jasper Johns in The Terminal Man, another book by Crichton. The technophobic antagonist of the story found it odd that a person would paint numbers as they were inorganic.Michael Crichton himself had a superb art collection, including several important works by Jasper Johns. Most of them were sold at an auction Christie’s in 2010.Jurassic Park (film)
Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen. The first installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton and a screenplay written by Crichton and David Koepp. The film is set on the fictional island of Isla Nublar, located off Central America's Pacific Coast near Costa Rica. There billionaire philanthropist John Hammond and a small team of genetic scientists have created a wildlife park of de-extinct dinosaurs. When industrial sabotage leads to a catastrophic shutdown of the park's power facilities and security precautions, a small group of visitors, and Hammond's grandchildren, struggle to survive and escape the perilous island.
Before Crichton's novel was published, four studios put in bids for its film rights. With the backing of Universal Studios, Spielberg acquired the rights for $1.5 million before its publication in 1990; Crichton was hired for an additional $500,000 to adapt the novel for the screen. Koepp wrote the final draft, which left out much of the novel's exposition and violence and made numerous changes to the characters. Filming took place in California and Hawaii between August and November 1992, and post-production rolled until May 1993, supervised by Spielberg in Poland as he filmed Schindler's List.
The dinosaurs were created with groundbreaking computer-generated imagery by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston's team. To showcase the film's sound design, which included a mixture of various animal noises for the dinosaur roars, Spielberg invested in the creation of DTS, a company specializing in digital surround sound formats. Following an extensive $65 million marketing campaign, which included licensing deals with 100 companies, Jurassic Park premiered on June 9, 1993, at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C., and was released on June 11 in the United States. It went on to gross over $914 million worldwide in its original theatrical run becoming the highest-grossing film of 1993 and the highest-grossing film ever at the time, a record held until the release of Titanic in 1997. It was well received by critics, who praised its special effects, John Williams' musical score, and Spielberg's direction. Following its 3D re-release in 2013 to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Jurassic Park became the seventeenth film in history to surpass $1 billion in ticket sales.
The film won more than twenty awards, including three Academy Awards for its technical achievements in visual effects and sound design. Jurassic Park is considered a landmark in the development of computer-generated imagery and animatronic visual effects and was followed by four commercially successful sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Jurassic Park III (2001), Jurassic World (2015) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), with a fifth sequel, currently titled Jurassic World 3, scheduled for a 2021 release.
In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".Jurassic Park (novel)
Jurassic Park is a 1990 science fiction novel written by Michael Crichton, divided into seven sections (iterations). A cautionary tale about genetic engineering, it presents the collapse of an amusement park showcasing genetically recreated dinosaurs to illustrate the mathematical concept of chaos theory and its real world implications. A sequel titled The Lost World, also written by Crichton, was published in 1995. In 1997, both novels were re-published as a single book titled Michael Crichton's Jurassic World, unrelated to the film of the same name.In 1993, Steven Spielberg adapted the book into the blockbuster film Jurassic Park. The book's sequel, The Lost World, was also adapted by Spielberg into a film in 1997. A third film, directed by Joe Johnston and released in 2001, drew several elements, themes, and scenes from both books that were ultimately not utilized in either of the previous films, such as the aviary and boat scenes. A fourth entry, directed by Colin Trevorrow was released in 2015, and a fifth, was released in 2018, directed by J. A. Bayona.
The novel began as a screenplay Crichton wrote in 1983, about a graduate student who recreates a dinosaur. Eventually, given his reasoning that genetic research is expensive and "there is no pressing need to create a dinosaur", Crichton concluded that it would emerge from a "desire to entertain", leading to a wildlife park of extinct animals. Originally, the story was told from the point of view of a child, but Crichton changed it as everyone who read the draft felt it would be better if told by an adult.Looker
Looker is a 1981 American science-fiction film written and directed by Michael Crichton and starring Albert Finney, Susan Dey, and James Coburn. The film is a suspense/science-fiction piece that comments upon and satirizes media, advertising, TV's effects on the populace, and a ridiculous standard of beauty.
Though spare in visual effects, the film is notable for being the first commercial film to attempt to make a realistic computer-generated character, for the model named Cindy. It was also the first film to create three-dimensional (3D) shading with a computer, months before the release of the better-known Tron.Pirate Latitudes
Pirate Latitudes is an action adventure novel by Michael Crichton, concerning 17th century piracy in the Caribbean. HarperCollins published the book posthumously on November 26, 2009. The story stars the fictional privateer Captain Charles Hunter who, hired by Jamaica's governor Sir James Almont, plots to raid a Spanish galleon for its treasure.Rising Sun (film)
Rising Sun is a 1993 American crime film written and directed by Philip Kaufman, starring Sean Connery (who was also an executive producer), Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Michael Crichton and Michael Backes wrote the screenplay, based on Crichton's novel of the same name.Runaway (1984 American film)
Runaway is a 1984 American science fiction action film written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, Cynthia Rhodes and Kirstie Alley. Selleck portrays a police officer assigned to track down dangerous robots, while Simmons is a scientist who hopes to profit from his malevolent manipulation of robots. The film was a box office disappointment and received mixed reviews.Sphere (1998 film)
Sphere is a 1998 American science fiction psychological thriller film directed and produced by Barry Levinson and starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson. Sphere was based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. The film was released in the United States on February 13, 1998.The Andromeda Strain
The Andromeda Strain is a 1969 techno-thriller novel by Michael Crichton documenting the efforts of a team of scientists investigating the outbreak of a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism in Arizona. The Andromeda Strain appeared in the New York Times Best Seller list, establishing Michael Crichton as a genre writer.The Andromeda Strain (miniseries)
The Andromeda Strain is a 2008 science fiction miniseries, based on the 1969 novel of the same name written by Michael Crichton about a team of scientists who investigate a deadly disease of extraterrestrial origin. The miniseries is a "reimagining" of the original novel rather than an adaptation. In addition to updating the setting to the early 21st century, the miniseries makes a great many plot and character changes from its source. The mini-series has two episodes for a total of 169 minutes.The Carey Treatment
The Carey Treatment is a 1972 film by Blake Edwards based on the novel A Case of Need credited to Jeffery Hudson, a pseudonym for Michael Crichton. Like Darling Lili and Wild Rovers before this, The Carey Treatment was heavily edited without help from Edwards by the studio into a running time of one hour and 41 minutes; these edits were later satirized in his 1981 comedy S.O.B..The First Great Train Robbery
The First Great Train Robbery, released in the United States as The Great Train Robbery, is a 1978 British crime film directed by Michael Crichton, who also wrote the screenplay based on his novel The Great Train Robbery.
The film stars Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, and Lesley-Anne Down.The Lost World (Crichton novel)
The Lost World is a techno thriller novel written by Michael Crichton and published in 1995 by Knopf. A paperback edition (ISBN 0-345-40288-X) followed in 1996. It is a sequel to his earlier novel Jurassic Park. In 1997, both novels were re-published as a single book titled Michael Crichton's Jurassic World, unrelated to the 2015 film of the same name.The Terminal Man (film)
The Terminal Man is a 1974 film directed by Mike Hodges, based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It stars George Segal. The story centers on the immediate dangers of mind control and the power of computers.Westworld
Westworld is an American science fiction-thriller media franchise which began in 1973 with the release of the film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton. The film depicts a technologically advanced, Western-themed amusement park populated by androids that malfunction and begin killing the human visitors; it was followed by the sequel film Futureworld (1976).
In 1980, there was a short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld. A television series called Westworld, produced by HBO and based on the original film, debuted on October 2, 2016. A second season aired in April 2018, with a third season ordered the following month.Westworld (film)
Westworld is a 1973 American science fiction Western thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. Its plot concerns amusement park androids that malfunction and begin killing visitors. It stars Yul Brynner as an android in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.
The film served as Crichton's feature directorial debut. It was also the first feature film to use digital image processing to pixellate photography to simulate an android point of view. The film was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Saturn awards.
Westworld was followed by a sequel, Futureworld (1976), and a short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld (1980). A new television series based on the film debuted in 2016 on HBO.