For my generation Michael Crichton was a genius who made science and its latest developments accessible. (Sorry couldn’t get Asimov – plus his books were not easily available).
Crichton’s genius was making Science easily understood as well as marketing this suitably.
I cant remember which book I read first – perhaps it was Congo, but it left an impression – how everything from satellite imagery to chips inside chimpanzees could be used for tracking (this was more than three decades – long before the internet or even the first mobile phone). Some of the devices used during their camping were possibly new technologies discovered by the NASA and other American institutions.
His best sellers Jurassic Park was pure genius, and he also commented on both academic malpractices like contamination of sites as well as provoke truth vs. fiction vs. futurist scenario debates. Practically all the books he wrote till then were scintillating – the only disappointment being MICRO and one about man-eaters possibly his last works, both insufferable.
I liked the range he covered from historical pieces (the great train robbery – simply spectacular) to corporate dynamics and of course latest developments in science, most listed above.
His personal life was equally interesting and fodder for a lot of trivia questions. Michael Douglas owes his discovery and launch as both producer and actor to the book Coma. Apparently the movie led to a big drop in organ donations. It also led to enquiries within large hospitals and a complete review of the control procedures.
I didn’t read his auto/biography which is frank and talks about how he was indulgent in the liberated atmosphere of Hollywood and was quite experimentative – well, I didn’t read this but my brother found this interesting and encouraged me to read it. Well, someday.
Sadly not all Movies based on his books would become hits, but when they did – it would be among the few cases where the movie was as good as the book. The Jurassic Park series were superhits – with a little help of steven Spielberg of course. I personally didn’t like them as much. Once you had seen a horror flick, all of them felt the same. Others like Congo, Micro were formulaic and barely made the cut. The one he directed himself – the Great Train Robbery was a huge success, partly also because of Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland doing some great work in the movie – I quite enjoyed both the book n the movie.
My favourite movie however was DISCLOSURE - starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore, on the corporate sexual harassment case that also highlighted the challenges by global hi-tech multinationals, and he seemed to get the dynamics bang on. In this case I loved the movie better than the book.
The movie was one of the best directed movies that moved speedily and narrated the story fast and furious. (later copied by Bollywood in Aitraaz which had perhaps Priyanka Chopra’s best performance as a femme fatale). I think the strength in addition to the fast direction was the fabulous talents of not just the hugely under-rated Michael Douglas and Demi moore but the entire supporting cast from Sutherland to the lawyers, his wife, friends and colleagues etc. The background movie captured the tension, and suspense and the new age technology of virtual reality and navigating the information highway was splendidly portrayed. I think a lot of folks who worked in a fast growing company and the tech sectors could identify the dynamics both of the organization as well as the interplay between the boss and his favourites.
Michael Crichton who was over 6ft tall, with a medical degree and fairly healthy – died prematurely (well, surprisingly young for his credentials) – and that put an end to such prolific producer of some amazing works, and it’s a pity.
But the works he produced continue to both fascinate as well as entertain – do grab some of his books for your next holiday or a spare weekend, and rent his movies for a highly diverse yet immersive experience.