R.I.P., Michael Crichton

The bestsellling author is dead at the age of 66 following a long and private battle with cancer. Wow.

UPDATE: Obits from HarperCollins Canada, Wired News, Phoenix New Times, AP, NYT, National Post, TIME, and io9.

Tributes from David Montgomery, John Scalzi, Frank Wilson, Marjorie Kehe, Chip McGrath, and a statement from Steven Spielberg. Here’s Crichton spending an entire hour on Charlie Rose. Jaime Weinman also sums up what made Crichton work well in TV:

You can fault him for a lot of things…but he had a real gift for imaginative concepts that people would respond to. Not just premises, but concepts; ER and Jurassic Park and Westworld

don’t necessarily have the most original premises in the world, but

they’re thought out conceptually in ways that makes them feel new. ER

in particular showed how the stale concept of the medical drama could

become fresh if fleshed out with more specific details and a greater

sense of intensity than previous, more leisurely-paced (and less

jargon-filled) doctor shows.

UPDATE TWO: Before Crichton broke out with THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN and while still a medical student, he wrote several pulp novels under the pseudonyms John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. Two of the Lange novels, GRAVE DESCEND and ZERO COOL, were reissued by Hard Case Crime in the last couple of years, and HCC publisher Charles Ardai had this to say by email earlier this afternoon:

I did hear earlier today about John Lange’s death (perversely on the

very same day Michael Crichton passed away — a double tragedy for fans

of great genre fiction).  Lange was a very generous man and deeply

involved with every step of the process on both of the books we did

together, even to the point of writing new bookend chapters for our

edition of ZERO COOL.  He worked with us on the cover art, the cover

text, revising the books line by line to polish old imperfections…he

was a consummate pro and a real joy to work with.  He even signed our

50-copy limited edition of FIFTY-TO-ONE just a few weeks ago, along

with nearly all our other living authors.  And we were talking with him

about possibly bringing out a third of his books.  Who knows whether

we’ll do it now…but even if we do, it won’t be the same.  I miss him

already.  (Michael, too.  I miss them both.)