Remembering Crichton

November 5th, 2008 • Kate

It’s late, I know, but I only just heard the news that Michael Crichton passed away Tuesday of cancer. You can read more about his life, his works, and other details here, here, or here, but I wanted to share my own memories of the man.
I had the pleasure of working on his foreign rights for almost ten years at my previous agency, and though his email messages were always short and to the point, the man himself was a towering wordsmith. I remember sitting at my cubicle one day when he came by the office, and realized that he was leaning down on the top of the cubicle wall, resting his elbows at the height of my eyeballs. The man was tall, people.
And so talented — say what you will about the movies made from some of his books, but the books themselves are the kind of smart pageturners James Patterson wishes he were writing. Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Sphere, Eaters of the Dead, Congo, State of Fear — I defy you to pick up any one of them and put them down without finishing them.
I have a special memory about Timeline. At the time it came out, I was studying stage combat pretty ambitiously, and in hearing that there was a character named Kate in Crichton’s new book, AND she got to fight with a sword, I remember saying something about it to Crichton’s assistant, who I was in frequent contact with about foreign deals with my boss. The next time Crichton came to the office, I got a signed first edition of the newly released book, with a personal note: “To Kate, the only sword fighter I know.”
I’ve worked on a lot of books in my more than a dozen years in the business, but that copy of that book has always been a treasured possession. Today, it feels a little more so.
Thank you, Michael Crichton, for countless thrills.

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5 Responses to “Remembering Crichton”

  1. Julia Says:

    The marvelous thing about books is that the author lives on through them. So we can revisit as often as we'd like.
    The sad part is – when there will be no new ones.
    RIP, Michael Crichton

  2. Carrie Harris Says:

    Oh how COOL that you have a specialized swordfighter Crighton.

  3. KN Says:

    A disabled, Japanese family friend of ours stayed with Michael Crichton’s family as an exchange student, many decade ago. Though Michael wasn’t living there at the time, a character based on her likeness makes a major appearance in one of his books: Rising Sun. Inspiration everywhere.

  4. *** Dave Says:

    I’ve been a fan of Crichton since seeing the original _Andromeda Strain_ in the movie theater many years ago. Though I gave away many of the books of his I read, that one is still on my shelf. As much as he had a better movie record than, say, King, the cinema rarely did full credit to his work (thinking both _Sphere_ and especially _Congo_ here).
    I didn’t keep up with some of his more recent works, and he got into political hot water with his naysaying about global warming claimants, but I still found his books (esp. his first, _Five Patients_) well worth reading.

  5. yellowbrick08 Says:

    What a wonderful story, Kate. Michael Crichton will definitely be missed, but also remembered fondly. And, like Julia noted, it's wonderful that we still have his books.
    On a side note, I took stage combat in college and loved it. Also took circus class (did a double major with theater one of them) and became quite good at the tightrope. Don't know if I could do that know, but I still remember how to swing a broad sword. 🙂