One of my favorite authors, Michael Crichton passed away on Tuesday, November 4, after losing his battle against cancer, at the age of 66. No details have been given about his medical condition and we should respect his family’s wishes to keep things private.
Whenever my friends asked me why I decided to become a biologist, I always said it’s Michael Crichton’s fault. But it’s not “Jurassic Park” that inspired me to go into science, it’s a less known thin paperback volume with the title “The Andromeda Strain“, one of Crichton’s oldest works, published in 1969. In fact, it is so old that I can’t even find a picture of the cover of the book – as a stand-alone novel and not as part of a combi-volume -at amazon.
I can’t count how many times I have read that book. But I will always remember 3 of those times. The first time was when I was in high school. Although most of the scientific stuff was lost on me, his description of the little town in the desert, the lab facility, the bug from space made a lasting impression. At a time when “aliens” took the face of Mr. Spock and ET, somehow the idea of microscopic aliens was more real and frightening to me.
I read “Andromeda” again when I was in college, when microbiology was one of favorite subjects. I got to understand more about the science in the book and saw bugs in real life under the microscope. I loved the book even more and I was inspired by it to pursue a career in medicine. Unfortunately, money matters prevented me from achieving that dream.
The last time I read it I was a full-fledged scientist with a PhD in Biology. And at a time when the science buzzwords were “genomics” and “proteomics” and therefore making “Andromeda” an obsolete read, I still loved the book and appreciated even more the science and the medical knowledge behind it.
Michael Crichton has written many other interesting books. Jurassic Park is probably the most popular and successful and as most of us know – is about genetics. So is his book “Next.” Crichton always keeps up with the latest in science and technology and weaves very convincing stories around it. “Disclosure” is about virtual reality. “Prey” is about nanotechnology. Coincidentally I am currently reading another Crichton – “State of Fear” – which is on global warming and other environmental issues.
Crichton has also been involved in films and TV and was behind the highly successful hospital series “E.R.” which made George Clooney into a star.
Of course, some of his works are controversial, especially “Rising Sun” considered to be racist and anti-Japanese.
The reason I am writing this is because without his inspiration, I wouldn’t probably be here writing for this blog. Thank you, Michael Crichton.