Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Book is Always Better

My sister and I read a lot growing up, and sometimes those books got made into movies, or sometimes we read the books after we saw the movies. Things like Neverending Story. Princess Bride. Dune. No matter the order in which we encountered a story, though, we had an axiom that never seemed to fail.

The book is always better.

Even if the movie adaptation has Robin Wright or Sting. Even if it's directed by Steven Spielberg, as was the case for Jurassic Park, one of those movies that gets watched almost every time I stumble across it. And yet I remember, after seeing the movie in theaters, my sister and I finishing the book by Michael Crichton, fascinated by the fractal designs at the start of each chapter and the story's discussion of the science of chaos. Our conclusion was, as always, that the book was better.

Michael Crichton died Tuesday at the age of 66. He wrote many sorts of books: historical adventures, like The Great Train Robbery or Eaters of the Dead, international thrillers, like Rising Sun, and of course, many science-y type novels in which the science inevitably seems to go awry. Books like Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, or Sphere (talk about a book being better than the movie). Sometimes people wondered a bit at the accuracy of the science in his fiction. He wrote a book in 2004, for example, called State of Fear, in which a group of eco-terrorists attempt to create a state of fear in order to advance their agenda regarding global warming. Scientists took offense at this for some reason.

Many of Crichton's novels very often got adapted into movies, sometimes with Crichton himself directing, such as on The Great Train Robbery, and many more where he didn't. Occasionally, he directed movies he didn't write, things like Coma or Runaway, or wrote movies he didn't direct, like Twister. During Jurassic Park, on which he was a producer, he dreamed up ER with Steven Spielberg, so if you're a fan of George Clooney being awesome, you owe Mr. Crichton a thank you.

I'll start. Thank you Michael Crichton, and I promise if I ever discover the secret to reanimating the dead or cloning myself into ever-more cool iterations, I'll stop and wonder about whether maybe sometimes just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should.

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