When one thinks of Michael Crichton one thinks of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Rising Sun, or maybe Sphere. He created them all and many other bestsellers besides, but few know that he scripted and directed the original Westworld, starring Yul Brynner, decades before the HBO hit series continued its themes. Fewer still know that he was a doctor, who wrote his way through medical school under an assumed name, because he felt it would adversely affect his career in medicine. He was the creator of the TV show, ER, and unless you met him in person, you wouldn’t know that he stood three inches short of seven feet tall. He cast a very long shadow by any measure.
My personal favorite along with the small volume, Eaters of the Dead, is his autobiography, Travels.
Travels is likely his least known work, and it shouldn’t be. It is not only a unique revelation of the man behind the image, but mind-expanding for the reader in unexpected ways. Crichton was a force in the film and literary world and should have been comfortable with his own success. He wasn’t. He had just as many self-doubts as the rest of us. His ideas about himself are not always comfortable to read, but what comes across is his honest search for truth, regardless of where it took him. Each chapter is its own separate journey, and Travels includes both the many expeditions he went on, and those he took internally. His personal journeys include areas most authors avoid, and he does so with a detachment and thoroughness of the true scientist that he was. What I admire most is Crichton’s unflagging willingness to push boundaries and to explore areas considered taboo by modern science, such as astral projection, the I-Ching, and clairvoyance. What shines through consistently is the clarity and precision of the mind that wrote it. We should all have such a gift. This little gem will repay the reader many times in unexpected ways, not only for the recollections of the many adventures he had, but for the extraordinary insights he gleaned along the way.
[*Photo © Smith-Obolensky Media]