This 'n' That

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton: 23 October 1942-4 November 2008

"...As in all his other science-based novels he is pessimistic about the ability of scientists to control what they create..." This is a small portion of a review of Michael Crichton's "Prey". It is taken from 15 December 2002's edition of The Observer. This writer once had the privilege of meeting Mr. Crichton.

Our brief meeting occurred at a book signing for his latest novel of the time, "Prey". As I stood in line, waiting to have my copy of his book signed, I was already intimidated by how tall Mr. Crichton was. He stood 6'9" tall when on his feet. But it seemed to me that he towered over my 6'0" frame even as he sat and I stood, offering my purchase, his book, for him to sign. Speechless at first, I had to be prompted by him: "What would you like me to write?" He asked politely. Earlier, I had seen him posing with a few of his readers for photographs. I had failed to bring my camera and regret it to this day. He was genuinely a nice guy, though the look he gave one with his intense laser-like blue eyes gave one the initial impression that he was a cold, no nonsense type of individual. Untrue. Although, as I watched him write "To, my name", and then sign his, I somehow gathered that Mr. Crichton was extremely hard working and focused. Driven was probably the word the came to me first. I could feel his mind churning and him reigning himself in so that he could tend to the business at hand without seeming too detached. It all began at Harvard, where he earned a degree in medicine while writing and publishing one of his first novels, "A Case Of Need" under the pseudonym, Jeffrey Hudson.

Supremely accomplished, Michael Crichton also studied under Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio vaccine, at Stanford University in California. At 27 he was lecturing at Cambridge University in England. Later in life Mr. Crichton wrote and directed films, "The Great Train Robbery" and "Westworld" are two of them. "Er", the long running television medical drama, is also his creation. If one wishes to learn more about the psyche, the engine that propelled, compelled Michael Crichton, his book, "Travels" is the one to seek out.

As there was probably not enough time and/or paper for Michael Crichton to put all the ideas down that crowded his active mind, there is not enough space here for this writer to describe how fortunate I feel for having once met the hardworking man who has given us so much of himself in so many creative ways.