Michael Crichton was the finest science-fiction writer of his era, but he was substantially more than that. Regarded mostly as a mega-selling hack with few literary skills, Crichton was, in fact, an incisive and intelligent social observer. His novels, plotted heavily though they were, were novels of ideas and concepts, but also novels which spoke to wide and growing concerns with how our lives intersected with our technologies.
Jurassic Park is, on the surface, a thrill-ride of the classic beast-eats-man variety, but beneath that is Crichton’s strong social commentary on the arrogance and ignorance of modern science. “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should,” says Ian Malcom in the film version of Crichton’s masterpiece, which thoroughly sums up the point. Over and over again Crichton, harking back to his heroes Jules Verne and HG Wells, was writing social allegories with subtle, insightful morals.
Crichton’s other great skill was his ability to uniquely blend genres. He combined the science-fiction of Jules Verne, the horror of Stephen King, and the epic adventure of H. Rider Haggard, forming a hybrid with which he found his finest successes. He was a master storyteller, able to synthesize vast quantities of information and complex concepts into powerful, moving tales which never flagged and never let down the reader.
Crichton’s insight and his remarkable voice are sorely missed.
Michael Crichton Books to Read:
Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere, The Great Train Robbery, Prey, Airframe, The Andromeda Strain, Travels, Rising Sun, Timeline, Next, Pirate Latitudes, The Lost World.
Michael Crichton Links: