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He Was Crichton - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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November 5th, 2008


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11:13 am - He Was Crichton
Michael Crichton died.

Jurassic Park came out when I was twelve years old. For as long as I can remember, I loved the hell out of dinosaurs—I wrote a book called The Disastrous Dino War in elementary school—so you can imagine how much I loved that movie. I saw it with my family in a San Francisco movie theater, having smuggled in Burger King chicken sandwiches to eat for lunch. Some memories stick with you. Surely, Spielberg was responsible for a lot of the magic of the movie and its impact on popular culture.

But it was Crichton's idea. My uncle from Mississippi bought me the book before I left San Francisco.

I finished it in two days. I read it all the way on the plane home, and, since the next day we were driving around D/FW social visiting, I read it all day in the car or van. It was the fastest I'd ever read a book before, I think, especially one that long. I was twelve, you know? It was one of those Reading Memories, where the experience of reading the book makes you even more fond of the book itself. I know I've re-read the book at least once, but that first read is still memorable.

I became a huge Crichton fan. I loved Sphere, Congo, Disclosure, The Andromeda Strain, and The Lost World. I didn't read him after high school, but he was one of my favorite authors.

And he inspired me. At the time, my family was pushing me to be a doctor and informing me that my writing could be a nice hobby but I shouldn't "waste my mind" with it. Michael Crichton went to medical school and was all science-y and still became a famous author. He gave me hope that I, too, could follow a medical or science path, do my medical or science thing, but still be a writer.

His books are still out there. His stories, and his story. I hope twelve-year-olds pick them up and fall even more in love with dinosaurs and dream of becoming famous writers for generations to come.
Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: The Prodigy - Mindfields

(29 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:sdwolfpup
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
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Oh my god. I didn't even know he was ill. I read all of his stories, too. This is shocking.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
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I know. They kept it pretty quiet, it seems. Fucking cancer.
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From:daynr
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
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I loved some of his books when I was young (and would still read them as braincandy), and can remember similar reading book stories from my youth. It's amazing when a book just grabs you and takes you somewhere.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Share some book stories!

And, yeah, it's great when you can get completely absorbed in a book. As much as I love TV, it can't give you the same experience. It gives you so much! With a book, it's just you and the words, baby.
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From:daynr
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
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ooooh, I'll have to think on it. A lot of them are just from when I finally learned to read and was AMAZED at the world. I love being in people's thoughts. I graduated pretty quickly from basics to age-appropriate books, but probably my first absorption story might be being my new stepfather's friends' house (and thus uncomfortable) and being given a Louisa May Alcott book. I've always like other times/places and female protagonist, so I was sold. Fortunately my strict was so damn happy that I was finally reading that she bought me the whole series (Little House, not Little Women) and I got to spend a week reading them. A week in the car, travelling up to Seattle.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm not scientific in ANY way, shape, or form but Crichton made it interesting! And though a lot of it probably DID go over my head I was still able to get the gist of what was going on.
That's what was so great about him! He was able to show off his research in an accessible way.

Ack, what the fuck, past tense.

I liked the movie too, but the book was better - naturally. I actually found myself scoffing that Malcolm lived. (Although, according to Crichton he DID live so... I guess Spielberg knew something I didn't.)
Hee, I thought that was totally lame of him, but, hey, it was fun to have Malcolm in the second book, which, hilariously, bore no resemblance to the movie at all.

Like you, I kind of fell out of reading his books later in my life.
Isn't that weird? I mean, he's writing for adults, and...we stopped reading his books when we became adults. Hee.

I saw the movie Timeline and enjoyed it.
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From:sneaker328
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
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I was shocked when I saw the news. He was so talented. And tall! Very tall.

This was a nice post, thanks for sharing.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome. There have been so many high-profile deaths this year, but I think this is the first one that's really affected me personally, the first person who had a specific effect on my life. And what's a journal for if not sharing personal experiences and emotions?

Trivia: I discovered the news from Felicia Day's Facebook status. The Internet is weird.
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From:pandora_17
Date:November 5th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
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---:(

I think I was seven when Jurassic Park came out and it scared the hell out of me. To this day I feel a wave of panic at the sight of a T-rex. Even cartoons.

I believe I have already told the story of going to the St. Louis Science Center with my dad right after the Jurassic Park fever and being hunted by the animatronic T-rex.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps. Tell it again!
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From:allthelivesofme
Date:November 5th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Aw damn. :-(
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
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Seriously. It's not like I...needed him to be alive to write more books or something, but this has eliminated the possibility of my ever seeing him and telling him how much I admired him and loved his books. Slim though it was. It's just nice to have people...alive and out there, you know?
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From:maka2000
Date:November 5th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
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It is sad Michael Crichton died so suddenly. But it's wonderful you got such joy from his books, that's his legacy.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
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I want a legacy.
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From:vanessagalore
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
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I just heard! He was definitely one of my major inspirations, along with John D. MacDonald (I know, I'm all about the low-brow), P.D. James, and Lee Child. I loved that Crichton made research and science sexy. I thought "Timeline" (the novel, not the film) was amazing for its ability to make history come alive with an intriguing modern plot. We're not talking literature here, but such an enjoyable read.

Did you ever read his autobiographical book, "Travels"? He was pretty out there, got into astral projection, as I recall. That book talks about his medical education and travels all over the world. He was a fascinating person as well as a great author.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
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I loved that Crichton made research and science sexy.
Chaos theory! Virology! Sexual harassment laws! Virtual reality avatars! Underwater alien consciousnesses! Gorillas! DINOSAURS!

I thought "Timeline" (the novel, not the film) was amazing for its ability to make history come alive with an intriguing modern plot.
I enjoyed the movie! I'd like to read the book.

We're not talking literature here, but such an enjoyable read.
Right. His characters weren't terribly memorable (although I think Jurassic Park benefited greatly from the movie...I do have a sort of fondness for those characters), but the books were exciting and intriguing and fun.

Did you ever read his autobiographical book, "Travels"? He was pretty out there, got into astral projection, as I recall. That book talks about his medical education and travels all over the world.
I haven't. The books I listed are the only ones I've read. I bought The Great Train Robbery but never got around to reading it before it disappeared along with dozens of other books.
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From:harper47
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
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That's a great eulogy for a writer - to inspire someone. I'm sure somewhere he's thrilled with that comment. And I have no doubt that future generations will read and be challenged over and over and over again. He left a great legacy.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
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I'm really glad you feel that way. I was unsure whether it was "cool" to love Michael Crichton since he was a bestselling author. And if you're popular with the masses, you can't be any good, right?

But he showed me that there was a path to becoming a writer that I could possibly follow. I also got into Robin Cook in high school, but he wasn't as good or creative. He was also a doctor-turned-writer, though, and I appreciated that.
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From:punzerel
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
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What a weird shock. I wouldn't say I loved Michael Chrichton's books, but I definitely enjoyed all the ones that I read, which I think is enough.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
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It's the bare minimum one would hope for, at least!

Well, I guess the bare minimum would be finishing the book at all.
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From:punzerel
Date:November 5th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
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Well, kinda. I mean, some books you sort of enjoy, you know? Crichton's books are all very fun to read - I never got that feeling of UGH CAN WE MOVE ON NOW PLEASE, you know?
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From:missquita
Date:November 5th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
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Oh. Wow. No.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
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No one saw this coming.
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From:miniglik
Date:November 5th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
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Aw. :( I read a bunch of his books as a 'tween.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 5th, 2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
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We all did!
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From:sterope
Date:November 6th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
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I read that he died today and it was really sad. Jurassic Park is my favorite movie. RIP!
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From:soundingsea
Date:November 6th, 2008 02:57 am (UTC)
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Aw, man. He was a good one. I'm so glad that he inspired you!
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From:ethanvahlere
Date:November 6th, 2008 05:42 am (UTC)
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I liked his science novels, because they were entertaining, and able to make science understandable even to someone like me, who didn't do well in science. I did have problems with his novels like Rising Sun (which I found horribly racist) and Disclosure (which I would have found offensive if it hadn't been so silly), and his calling global warming a myth also didn't sit too well. Having said that, 66 is too young, and it's always sad to have another person die of, as my friends put it, fucking cancer. I'm glad he was able to inspire you.

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