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Michael Crichton, R.I.P.

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Michael Crichton has died at age 66. Not a great writer by any means, obviously, but a very clever man and his books were usually intelligent entertainment. “The Great Train Robbery” is very enjoyable. Also liked "Jurassic Park," which doesn't have the anti-science subtext of the movie. “Westworld” is one of my favorite sci-fi pix. “E.R.” was a fine show, too. Rest in peace.

The son of a journalist, Crichton was born in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, but grew up in New York state. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University before tutoring at Cambridge University in anthropology and later registering at Harvard Medical School.

During his medical training, he began to secretly write novels, writing under a pseudonym, but was eventually outed after A Case of Need, which he wrote using the alias Jeffery Hudson, won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award, in 1968.

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I remember reading 'the Andromeda Strain' long ago, and barely remember it. What I did really like was 1993's 'Rising Sun'. I think this is an excellent novel. I also liked 'Disclosure' pretty well (and never saw the film version), which was about the time when virtual reality became faddish in a lot of fiction and movies, as in the Oliver Stone/Bruce Wagner miniseries 'Wild Palms' for another example. I recall John Updike making a barb about him in one of his 90s novels. and this has become one of the things Updike does, making moral and esthetic judgment on colleagues or just on celebrities he thinks should be upbraided (although he's no match for Paul Theroux in that way.) I just bring this up because I am annoyed that Updike's barb would make me forget that I thought 'Rising Sun' was a truly good piece of page-turner fiction, and probably as good as Updike's 'Brazil' even.

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I liked 'Rising Sun,' too. Never saw the film.

Updike would condescend to him, of course, but Crichton was my go-to guy for page-turners that wouldn't turn my brain to mush, although on a bad day his books could sound as if they had been written by a computer. Also he had a woman problem (not referring to his private life, which I know little about), but that didn't bug me too much.

You might like the movie of 'Disclosure.' I preferred it to the book. Michael Douglas is Michael Douglas, take him or leave him, although it was in this movie that his age really began to show. (Demi has to say 'You've kept in great shape,' all evidence to the contrary.) There's a good supporting cast, with a great turn by Roma Maffia as Sanders' defense attorney and Donald Sutherland is a lot of fun, too. I also liked the set for the office, and some of the less believable elements of the story are eliminated.

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