Michael Crichton died last Tuesday and I have been dallying publishing a post about his book till now. The reason why is that I have ambivalent feelings about his books. Most of them do have the true (techno-) thriller quality that does not let you put them down till you have reached the last page, even if it’s two in the morning! (Of course, this does not necessarily mean a very high quality literature, as shown by some Dan Brown’s novels…) Unsurprisingly, given their condensed and multi-climactic scenarii and their almost caricatural characters, most of Crichton’s books were almost bound to get turned into movies that I sometimes saw but always after reading the novel. (I liked most the Andromeda Strain adaptation, maybe because Crichton was involved. Disclosure and Rising Sun were enjoyable nonetheless. Although, in my opinion, Jurassic Park [the movie] was quite bad, it appealed to my kids who watched it repeatedly for quite a while!) Most of them also had some scientific or at least technie background that made them sound like sort of modern Jules Vernes, minus the style… (Of course, I much prefer William Gibson on this theme,) So I remember with pleasure reading (in this order) Rising Sun, Congo, The Andromeda Strain (my favourite!), Disclosure, Sphere, Jurassic Park, Airframe and Prey.

Maybe this is due to the large number of fantasy books I read, but I found Timeline rather disappointing at the time (and still remember the disappointment!), the notion of 20th century scholars adapting to medieval France lacking a minimal level of realism. And then came State of Fear that made me stop being a Crichton’s reader, because of the extremely conservative views of the book: Radical ecologists were the villeins, global warming was but a theory, and this at a time when (soon ex-) President Bush (and his goverment) was refusing to sign the Kyoto agreements and even to acknowledge this very issue… In retrospect, the earlier novels also have this conservative strain, even though The Andromeda Strain was praised (and translated) in the former Soviet Union as anti-imperialist!, and both Rising Sun, and Congo have been perceived as involving some racist elements, while Disclosure was criticised by feminists for obious reasons. I have thus not read Next so far, but may still end up doing so if I am stuck in an airport with nothing else to read!

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