Author Michael Crichton, Dead at 66

crichton110508 Author Michael Crichton, Dead at 66CBS News is reporting that author Michael Crichton has died at age 66. According to the report, Mr. Crichton, whose books include The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Prey, and others, fought "a courageous and private battle against cancer, according to a statement released by his family." (Gawker brought this story to our attention.)

Mr. Crichton was also influential in television (he co-created and produced E.R., NBC’s long-running medical drama), and a number of his books were made into popular films. An updated version of Westworld, based on a 1973 movie created by Mr. Crichton, is in the works. On September 25, 1995, Mr. Crichton appeared on the cover of Time Magazine beside the cover line "The Hit Man."

Mr. Crichton was also something of a media critic. In a speech Mr. Crichton delivered to the National Press Club in 1993 (printed in Wired under the headline Mediasaurus), Mr. Crichton looked at the media business and said:

I am the author of a novel about dinosaurs, a novel about US-Japanese trade relations, and a forthcoming novel about sexual harassment – what some people have called my dinosaur trilogy. But I want to focus on another dinosaur, one that may be on the road to extinction. I am referring to the American media. And I use the term extinction literally. To my mind, it is likely that what we now understand as the mass media will be gone within ten years. Vanished, without a trace.

There has been evidence of impending extinction for a long time. We all know statistics about the decline in newspaper readers and network television viewers. The polls show increasingly negative public attitudes toward the press—and with good reason. A generation ago, Paddy Chayevsky’s Network looked like an outrageous farce. Today, when Geraldo Rivera bares his buttocks, when the New York Times misquotes Barbie (the doll), and NBC fakes news footage of exploding trucks, Network looks like a documentary.

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