Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Happy News (I'm Back) and Sad News (Michael Crichton has Died)

The good news is that I will be able to post, if infrequently for the next few weeks, on a regular basis. I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off for a couple of weeks helping schools prepare for simulation elections. I was able to coordinate and facilitate 26 simultaneous simulation elections for this Presidential Election. It was the most schools we have done at one time and I had a great time organizing the events.

Now to compile the results...which should take a little while as I don't have the same equipment as County Registrar Recorders and have to hand count ballots for schools that have participating populations ranging from 30 to 1500. Whew!

On a sad note, Michael Crichton has passed away. Crichton has always been one of my favorite science fiction writers. I know there are some who wouldn't give him that label, as he was of the "best seller" and thriller genre, but he was one of the modern giants for me. Maybe not as high up there as Iain M. Banks and Tim Powers, but up there none the less.

Crichton was responsible for my favorite science fiction film as a kid, WESTWORLD, a film which holds up surprisingly well and which likely inspired the very fun Dream Park series of novels by Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes.

He was also responsible for one of the most realistic science fiction films ever made, and another favorite of mine, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN.

His novel TIMELINE was a wonderful argument against our almost knee jerk dismissal of the Middle Ages as primitive. Sadly, the movie didn't live up to the promise of the book -- though it did make me a Gerard Butler fan years before 300. Butler's portrayal of Marek seemed as if it had stepped right out of the pages of the book. Too bad the depictions of towns during the 100 Years War couldn't have followed suit.

I was also deeply entertained by his book EATERS OF THE DEAD and the movie THE 13th WARRIOR inspired by the book. I enjoyed the book's and the film's portrayal of the Beowulf myth "as real occurrence." It gave greater depth to my appreciation for the original poem.

JURASSIC PARK, both book and film, were excellent. The second JURASSIC PARK was better than the remake of Conan Doyle's LOST WORLD that Spielberg brought to the big screen.

Crichton's work was often "high concept," in that it could be reduced to the Hollywood tagline very easily. But his work also tended to be well researched, from the position of the argument it was making, and engaging. My future reading list just got one author smaller, and I am saddened by the news.

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