Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Michael Crichton Passes

Well, this teaches me to never step away from my computer for even a nanosecond. I took myself out to breakfast this morning, in celebration of Barack Obama’s historic election yesterday as the 44th president of the United States, and when I returned, I found a note from Rap Sheet correspondent Ali Karim, telling me that author Michael Crichton has died. From The Hollywood Reporter:
Michael Crichton -- whose books were made into films including “Jurassic Park” and “The Andromeda Strain” -- died Tuesday. He was 66.

The author died “after a courageous and private battle against cancer,” according to his Web site. A statement on said Crichton died “unexpectedly” in Los Angeles.

Crichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of “Andromeda” or dinosaurs running amok in “Jurassic Park,” one of his many books that spawned major Hollywood movies.

Crichton also was a screenwriter and filmmaker, earning producing and writing credits for the film versions of many of his titles. He also created the NBC hospital drama “ER” in 1994.
In addition to his best-known novels, Crichton penned several works of crime fiction under the pseudonym “John Lange.” Two of those books have been republished within the last couple of years by Hard Case Crime -- Zero Cool (1969) and Grave Descend (1970) -- but his first Lange novel was in fact Odds On (1966).

Still, I remember Crichton best for his historical thriller, The Great Train Robbery (1975), which fictionalized -- with style, wit, and humor -- England’s notorious Great Gold Robbery of 1855. I read that book when it came out in paperback, and was entirely consumed by its story and characters. I’ve re-read it once since, and still find it a marvel of plot development, tension, and historical re-creation. A film was made from the book in 1979, starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, but the novel far outshines its cinematic adaptation. Go find a copy. Right now.

READ MORE:Michael Crichton Dies at 66,” by Hillel Italie (AP); “The Admirable Mr. Crichton,” by Ali Karim (The Rap Sheet).



Blogger Sun Singer said...

Like you, I glanced away from my PC for a moment, and almost missed the news. I've been reading his books and/or viewing his works on the screen for a lifetime. He will be missed.

Er, since I see it in your pages often, what's the intent of using the word "Passes" these days when the word is "Dies"?


Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 7:49:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason the book "The Great Train Robbery" far surpasses the movie is that, as a condition of the sale of the movie rights, Crichton accepted a lower price but insisted that he be allowed to direct. It may have been to the detriment of the movie (who knows?) but I've always admired that he used his leverage with the book to try something new that he wanted to do.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 8:47:00 AM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Malcom: you're right. So sad to say good-bye to so many authors of late. But you question "passes." Are you suggesting you didn't understand what was meant?

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 8:58:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Malcolm. Death is not made easier by using euphemisms. What is wrong with saying that someone "dies"? And Malcolm made it clear in his query that he did indeed understand that "passes" replaced "dies".

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 4:26:00 PM PST  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Now pass is a euphemism for "die"? Hardly. At least, Malcolm asked about the intent, and that wasn't it. Nor was the intent to make the reality easier. Why would we be interested in doing that? We're reporting said passage, not easing anyone's way anywhere. If there was an intent (and I must admit, not enough thought was given to the word that "intent" could be used to describe it) it was just because I personally think the word "dies" looks sore and awkward in a headline. As though someone hasn't bothered to find a different word. "Joe Died" To my mind, headlines should evoke and that one does not.

Now you used the word "euphemism," but I wonder how carefully. There are plenty of euphemisms for die but, in my book, "pass" isn't one of them. It's a genuine synonym.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 5:21:00 PM PST  

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