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Editor eBook Pick of the Week: Remembering Michael Crichton

Fri Nov 7, 2008 - 4:29 AM EST - By Jennifer Chappell

Remembering Michael Crichton

I was very sad to hear this week that one of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton, has died at the age of 66 of cancer. My prayers go out to Crichton's family and friends. He will surely be missed.

Note: Photo via Michael Crichton's Official website.

Michael Crichton co-created and produced NBC's medical drama "E.R.", one of my favorite television shows. The first work of Crichton's that I was ever aware of was his book "Andromeda Strain". I saw the movie many years ago, and then read the book just recently. Another movie that I can remember and loved was "Westworld", which Crichton wrote and directed. And I loved "Coma", both the book and the movie! Especially the book.

Some of our younger readers might best remember Crichton's "Jurassic Park", "The Lost World", and "Twister", all of which he wrote and directed. I had no idea that Crichton had anything to do with "Twister" until this very moment. Very interesting.

Michael Crichton was such a talented man! Not only was he a wonderful writer, he was also a medical doctor, film producer, film director, and television producer. I don't know how the guy had any time for writing, but thank goodness that he did.

Wikipedia has some interesting information on Crichton. When Crichton was in medical school, he wrote under the two pen names of John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. Both pen names were created as a play on his above-average height of 6 feet, 9 inches tall. Wow, that is tall! I thought my husband was tall at 6' 6". Anyway, Lange is a surname in Germany, meaning "tall one", and Sir Jeffery Hudson was a famous 17th century dwarf in the court of Queen Consort Henrietta Maria of England.

Another interesting and humorous thing about Crichton is that he admitted to having once plagiarized a work of George Orwell and submitted it as his own during his undergraduate study.

From Wikipedia:

According to Crichton, the paper was received by his professor with a mark of "B-". Crichton claimed that the plagiarism was not intended to defraud the school, but rather as an experiment. Crichton believed that the professor in question had been intentionally giving him abnormally low marks, and so as an experiment Crichton informed another professor of his idea and submitted Orwell's paper as his own work.

*snicker*, that was a good one! Crichton sure had a great sense of humor.

I've read just about all of Michael Crichton's books but don't have any eBooks by him. Fictionwise has a few available, so let's take a look at some of them:


The author of Jurassic Park doesn't just write blockbusters, he ignites entertainment phenomena. In this, his first novel since 1996's Airframe, he delivers another high-tech thriller destined for big-budget moviedom. Crichton's tale--about scientists who are deconstructed and reassembled in medieval times--features all of his proven ingredients: a mad genius, soulless technocrats, a rugged, slightly befuddled protagonist, all sent hurtling through a breathless series of twists and turns. That Crichton's latest scenario seems even less plausible than the DNA-derived velociraptors in Jurassic Park--and is bereft of convincing characters or lively dialogue--hardly diminishes Timeline's joyride appeal.
"Compulsive reading ... Brilliantly imagined."--Los Angeles Times
"The present and the long-ago past collide ... [As] three young historians whisk themselves back to fourteenth-century feudal france to rescue a friend--and engulf themselves in all manner of mind-blowing intrigue."--Chicago Sun-Times
"[A] big rollicking book."--The Wall Street Journal
"Exciting ... classic adventure ... [A] swashbuckling novel ... Crichton delivers."--USA Today

"Timeline" has to be one of my favorites because it's about time travel. I LOVE anything to do with time travel! I read this book a few years ago and was very excited when I heard that there was going to be a movie made from the book. I bought the movie on DVD as soon as it was available. Of course as usual, the book is always better than the movie. That's just a given.

You get get "Timeline" here for $7.99.

State of Fear

The undisputed master of the techno-thriller has written his most riveting--and entertaining--book yet. Once again Michael Crichton gives us his trademark combination of page-turning suspense, cutting-edge technology, and extraordinary research. State of Fear is a superb blend of edge-of-your-seat suspense and thought-provoking commentary on how information is manipulated in the modern world. From the streets of Paris, to the glaciers of Antarctica to the exotic and dangerous Solomon Islands, State of Fear takes the reader on a rollercoaster thrill ride, all the while keeping the brain in high gear. [eBook Extras: ONE: Why Speculate?: A speech to the International Leadership Forum; TWO: The Greatest Challenge Facing Mankind: Remarks to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco; THREE: Aliens Cause Global Warming: The 2003 Michelin Lecture at the California Institute of Technology.]

I enjoyed this book, but it didn't stick in my mind as much as "Timeline" or some of Crichton's other books.

You can get "State of Fear" here for $7.99.


Tom Sanders is an up-and-coming executive at the computer firm DigiCom. When his new boss turns out to be a woman who is both his former lover and a business rival, Sanders determines to be professional. But after a closed-door meeting, the woman accuses him of sexual harassment. It's her word against his, and suddenly Sanders finds himself caught in a nightmarish web of deceit in which he is branded as the villian. As he scrambles to save his career and his reputation, Sanders uncovers an electronic trail into DigiCom's secrets ... and the cynical scheme devised to bring him down.

Ahhh, remember the movie made from this book which starred Michael Douglas and Demi Moore? Now that was a good one! I think I'll get this eBook because this is one of Crichton's that I haven't read yet. As much as I liked the movie, I can just imagine how great the book will be.

You can get "Disclosure" here for $7.99.


eBook extras: Exclusive Crichton interview. Also: "As Explained by M.C.": Highlights from Michael Crichton's 30-plus years of making complex concepts understandable and entertaining. Plus: "The Crichton Canon," an introduction to his 12 prior novels and 4 works of nonfiction. In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles--micro-robots--has escaped from the laboratory. This cloud is self-sustaining and self-reproducing. It is intelligent and learns from experience. For all practical purposes, it is alive. It has been programmed as a predator. It is evolving swiftly, becoming more deadly with each passing hour. Every attempt to destroy it has failed. And we are the prey. As fresh as today's headlines, Michael Crichton's most compelling novel yet tells the story of a mechanical plague and the desperate efforts of a handful of scientists to stop it. Drawing on up-to-the-minute scientific fact, Prey takes us into the emerging realms of nanotechnology and artificial distributed intelligence--in a story of breathtaking suspense. Prey is a novel you can't put down. Because time is running out.

As I recall, "Prey" was a real page turner. I love how Crichton puts so much cool scientific stuff in his books. When I had first read the summary back when I got the book, I saw that it was about nanoparticles, and thought, "Ho hum". But the book is really good. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.You can get "Prey" here for $7.99.

You can check out a few more of Crichton's books in eBook format at Fictionwise. And you can learn more about this extremely talented man at the Michael Crichton Official website.

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