I'm shocked to learn that Michael Crichton has died at the age of 66. According to the AP story, he had been "privately battling cancer." I was just wondering the other day when we might see a new novel from him -- I assumed we'd have the chance to read many more. And now this news...Very sad.
Over a decade ago, Michael and I were email correspondents, discussing topics like writing and filmmaking and depression. He got a kick out of a draft of the Jurassic Park screenplay that I sent him, an online discovery back in the early days of the web. (He hadn't written it and had never even seen it. He later mentioned it in an interview with EW as an example of how you need to be careful about what you read online.) We gradually lost touch after a few years, but he was a smart and funny guy, and always kind.
Michael Crichton was an occasionally controversial figure, using his books to put forward theories like skepticism about global warming or unfettered scientific research or the dominance of the Japanese economic model. More importantly, though, he knew how to tell a good story, packing his books with action, adventure and lots of fun. He wasn't a great prose stylist, but he knew how to entertain. I always looked forward to his books with a sense of anticipation, knowing I'd be in for a good time.
It's been a tough time for the literary world these past few months. My sympathies to Michael's family.