The Real Michael Crichton: Uncovering the Writer’s Early Works

With new ebook releases of out-of-print work, we remember the legacy of the “father of the techno thriller.”

Years before he brought dinosaurs back to life in the best-selling novel Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was writing medical malpractice dramas and sexy crime capers. Released under the pseudonyms “Jeffrey Hudson” and “John Lange,” the books not only helped pay for medical school, they showcase Crichton’s early experiments with style. During this period, Grave Descend was nominated for an Edgar Award and the medical thriller A Case of Need won the Edgar Award. In 1972, A Case of Need became the James Coburn vehicle, The Carey Treatment, and Crichton adapted his own John Lange novel, Binary, into the TV film Pursuit. Tomorrow (July 23), these and eight of his other early and out-of-print works will be republished as ebooks by Open Roads Media.

Crichton was already exploring the dark side of technology, science, medical ethics, and business politics, and the imminent collapse of complex systems. These and others would become framework for his later works like Prey and Rising Sun. Crichton, who eventually became a successful film director, screenwriter, and producer (Westworld, Twister) is also the only person to simultaneously have the number one bestselling novel (Disclosure), movie (Jurassic Park), and television series (ER). He even had a dinosaur named after him: CrichtonsaurusBut Crichton wasn’t only a bestselling novelist or the “father of the techno thriller.” He was also compassionate, amiable, and socially and scientifically aware. He was also a prescient observer of society. In 1993, Crichton delivered a speech called Mediasaurus: The Decline of Conventional Media on the imminent death of American media. Two decades later, his ideas about the disappearance of print media have become a reality. On a lighter note, Crichton also focused on the complicated issue of human happiness.

What truly set Crichton apart was his incredible talent as a storyteller. In the vein of Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he possessed an imagination that sometimes stretches the limits of belief. Whether his stories were meant to be quick reads full of suspense and cinematic imagery or cautionary tales about science and medicine spinning out of control, Crichton’s work has inspired filmmakers, scientists, and countless budding writers. Like the dinosaurs he brought back to life, Michael Crichton’s legacy will live on.