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Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton(1942-2008)
Michael Crichton was a best-selling author known for his innovative techno-thrillers. You can find excerpts from his work as well as his non-fiction at Michael Crichton’s website.

The Andromeda Strain: A mediocre novel about extra-terrestrial bacteria

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

When Michael Crichton wrote The Andromeda Strain, he was not just writing a mediocre novel about extra-terrestrial bacteria. He was founding a (sub) genre of SFF that found a massive mainstream audience.

The techno-thriller has all of the pacing and suspense that we might expect of a John Grisham novel, but it also contains the encyclopedic detail that readers expect to find in “hard science fiction.”

To be honest, I’ve always been skeptical of the “techno-thrille... Read More

Congo: On the Edge

Congo by Michael Crichton

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]


Michael Crichton’s Congo (1980) is an adventure story that should recall Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1912) and Henry Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885).

However, although the formula has been used so many times as to become almost archetypal, the little details have been updated for a contemporary audience. In place of dinosau... Read More

Sphere: Crichton elevates his use of character

Sphere by Michael Crichton

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]

In Sphere, the follow up to Congo, Michael Crichton asks the question: how do you top a techno-thriller that pits a team of parachuting scientists against extremely intelligent apes that protect a remote area of jungle in Congo?

Impossible, right?

Perhaps not. Sphere begins with a premise that, by now, most Crichton fans will recognize very easily. Norman Johnson is a scientist, this time a psychologist, who has done a bit of work for a major organization in... Read More

Travels: A journey abroad, within, and on the astral plane

Travels by Michael Crichton

When Travelsbegins, Crichton is a student at Harvard Medical School, sawing into cadavers with his peers. He nearly faints at the sight of blood, but he is a talented and diligent student. Crichton shares the objections and concerns that would ultimately drive him from medicine, a decision perhaps made easier by the fact that he had already begun to experience success as a writer of spy novels. However, more than anything, it seems that Crichton began to doubt that doctors are capable of helping people. Instead, he believes that people should always assume personal responsibility for their illnesses.

So, Crichton leaves medicine, moves to Los Angeles, and begins writing novels and working in film. However, Travels is not the book about how Michael Crichton developed a passion for writing or found his big break. In fact, asi... Read More

Jurassic Park: Crichton has improved his formula

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

In our Edge of the Universe column we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.

It’s difficult to talk about Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, though not because the novel’s plot and characters are especially complex. They aren’t.

Alan Grant is a paleontologist who is asked to vet a new theme park that has brought dinosaurs back to life. The dinosaurs escape, and Grant, human resourcefulness, and state of the art technology are pitted against the raw power of Jurassic era biology. It’s a simple premise, though it is also undeniably compelling.

Instead, Jurassic... Read More

Micro: The “micro-world” is an exciting place to visit

Micro by Michael Crichton

In our Edge of the Universe column we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.

In his introduction to Micro, Michael Crichton explains that children today are “cut off from the experience of nature, and from play in the natural world.” Crichton’s purpose, it would seem, is to take the seemingly mundane world and reveal the wonderful details that don’t make it onto Wikipedia and computer models. Crichton had reportedly finished one third of Micro when he passed away, and the novel has since been finished by Richard Preston.

Peter Jansen and his f... Read More

Dragon Teeth: Palaeontologist wars

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

As anyone who reads the dust jacket will realize, Michael Crichton’s Dragon Teeth (2017) is about dinosaur fossils and the obsessed palaeontologists who traveled into the American frontier during the Gilded Age to gently dig them up. Sadly, it’s not about dinosaurs eating people.

William Johnson is a student at Yale. The son of a wealthy Philadelphia family, Johnson goes west to win a bet against his rival. He joins Professor Marsh, an eccentric and paranoid man who specializes in the bizarre new science, palaeontology. It turns out that Johnson has entered the “Bone Wars” between Marsh and his nemesis, Edward Cope. Although I spent most of the novel expecting Johnson and his company to end in a gunfight against Sitting Bull and the Sioux, it instead turned into... Read More