On the books of Michael Crichton

Introduction: The Science of Michael Crichton

By Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D.

Perhaps it is unbecoming to gush, but I have to admit up front that I am a huge fan of Michael Crichton’s writing and have been for most of my life. I’ve never met the man but, then again, they say you should never meet your heroes. Like many of his readers I have been thrilled, terrified, stimulated, and certainly entertained by his novels. When a new Michael Crichton novel is released, i’m the first in line. Although movie adaptations rarely do his novels justice, Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park still rank among my all-time favorites. Further, I would highly recommend any/all of the candid essays and speech transcripts on his Web site (www.michaelCrichton.com) to anybody interested in the state of science today. Many of his postings are true eye-openers, particularly for the non-scientist. On the other hand, having, in fact, read all the content posted on his Web site, I know that he and I would vehemently disagree on several topics—whether one of the courses I teach at UCLA, the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, is even worthy of being classified as a science class, for example. I expect he would argue that my class belongs in the “pseudo-Scientific philosophy courses” section of the university catalog. Okay then, so maybe “hero” was a slight overstatement. Still, not only have I thoroughly enjoyed Crichton’s works, they’ve spoken to me in very different ways over the span of both my life and career—often in pertinent and timely fashions.

In the mid-1970s, when  …

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