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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Crichton Has Died

Sad news. The major popular, controversial novelist and entertainment writer Michael Crichton has died - at the young age of 66. He was astonishingly prolific and succesful in tapping in to the zeitgeist, creating the TV series ER, and the Jurassic Park franchise. This alone would make him a key cultural figure of the 90s.

His greatest novels were The Andromeda Strain and The Terminal Man - icily-procedural and strangely prescient thrillers about the collision between humanity and science, or the unknown aspects connected to science (bacteria, brain surgery). I still think the original The Andromeda Strain one of the most disturbing films ever made, and can still recall the underground labs, monkey autopsies and the epileptic fit as if it was yesterday.

Crichton lost many fans (including me) when he became a sort of Dawkins of the anti-global warming set, though. His finger usually on the pulse, this pro-Bush perspective was oddly out of step with the times, and his death, timed at the moment of maximum goodwill after the election of the greatest potential president since Kennedy, 48 years ago (that is, half a century ago), is equally unfortunate. What should not be lost sight of, though, is that Crichton had a kind of genius, for combining fact, fear and entertainment, in a way that updated Poe's hyper-rational terrors.
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