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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Goodbye Michael...

First thing in the morning I do after getting up from the bed is turn on my computer. And check my e-mails. I did so this morning as well, and there was a mail from my good old Russian friend Oleg. I was thrilled for it was some time since we had a chat and it was always a pleasure getting an e-mail from him.

But not this time.

I was shocked, to say the least. I was like, "wait a minute, that can't be right". But then, I knew that whatever jokes he cracked, this cannot be one.

The mail said Michael Crichton had died.

I read it again, and again, and again. I was still in disbelief. How could it be? So I turned to my trusted friend Google, and there it was. Bang!

It was true.

A sudden overwhelming sorrow filled me, like if the Sun went out right in the middle of the day. How could it be? It said a cancer. But nobody knew. Seems that he didn't want anybody's sympathy but rather decided to fight it alone and go about his business as usual. Typical Michael.

My mind raise back some fourteen years to 1994. I was coming out of a cinema theatre, filled with thrill, amazement, joy and what not. Yes, I was coming back home after watching Jurassic Park. That was the first time I enjoyed the pure genius of the man. To be honest, I didn't even know who Michael Crichton was, back then. When you say Jurassic Park, the name that comes to your mind is Steven Spielberg - not MC. It's a shame that even today not many people know Jurassic Park is based on a novel - let alone who wrote it. But still, that was when I first encountered one of his works.

Fast forward six or seven years.

I had this habit of going to a bookshop at least once a month, not necessarily to buy them for I did not always had the money, but I just loved - I still do - being among books. I would spend two, three hours at a time in them just going through racks, enjoying that amazing smell of new books...
So there I was, in 'International' section and came across a book called Sphere, written by Michael Crichton. I remembered that this is the same guy who wrote Jurassic Park, so I thought 'what the heck, I'd give it a try'. Paid the Rs. 700/= odd with the money my mom gave me a couple of days ago to buy a new shirt and went home.

And things were never the same again.

I fell in LOVE with Sphere. It was such a fantastic read. And then I bought Jurassic Park. The Lost World. And I was crazy... I was so fascinated by his work that I wanted to read them all. Now, today, I have read all his novels plus his own unique sort of autobiography Travels - actually, I have all of them with me!

He is such a great writer that you can hardly not fall in love with his work. 'Thought provoking' and 'controversial' are the two best words to describe him, and his work. There was never a boring book - rather, they usually guarantee you a few sleepless nights. He was the modern day master of suspense when it comes to storytelling. I believe almost all of you have at least once experienced the raise of heartbeat while watching a movie. But how many times has that happened to you while reading a book? Michael managed that with almost all his novels.

He always blended fact with fiction so seamlessly that many people took his work to be so offensive. That in itself is a tribute to his amazing ability as a writer. And his books were always a recipe for controversy.

In an age where women were screaming for their rights, he wrote about sexual harassment - but only to make the man the victim. Imagine that!

When American-Japanese trade relations were in a highly tense situation, he wasn't afraid to express his views freely. Many labeled him a racist, but most of them hadn't even read the book!

In Airframe, he took a dig at the media - the ugly side of it.

And he saved his best for the last. Well, one before the last.

In State of Fear, he boldly questioned the motives of environmentalists at a time when global warming was considered a religion - not just a theory that is unproven. Them environmentalists, media and a few others went hysteric to say the least. But to his credit, all his claims were based on solid fact - not just assumptions or speculation which is just about all when it comes to 'global warming worshippers'. He argued that spending billions of dollars on a theory that isn't even proven is foolishness beyond imagination. Specially in a world where millions of people die in hunger, thirst and other deceases that are easily curable. Why don't we address those more pressing matters was his question...

Personally, my life was enriched, enlightened and influenced a lot by his work. Not to mention the friends I made because of him. Yeah, that is another interesting story. After reading a few of his books, I just searched on the net for more information about this guy, and stumbled upon his official website. There, among many things was a message board. Reluctantly, I posted a couple of posts.

To this day, I'm glad I did.

Though I wasn't sure what the responses would be, I was welcome warmly. And I became a regular member and found out that there was a small but very special, diverse and intellectual community. The discussions? Oh, they were the best! We could talk about thousand topics, agreeing or disagreeing with each other without really slinging mud at each other. It was food for thought - that message board was!
And I made a lot of friends there, from all over the world - including Oleg, who sent me this sad news today. They are all pretty normal people just like me, sharing the common things that we all loved books - and MC, for that matter. Yes, that's what we used to call him on the board : MC. They are a bunch of truly amazing and interesting people whom I will never forget.

Also it is pleasing to know that he knew me - at least by my screen name. Just after he released his last novel, NEXT, the good old admin of the board told us that MC talked about us while they were on a plane. He read most of the things we posted, and he knew about most of us by our screen names! I certainly am honored to know that and I am proud about that.

But he isn't there anymore. There will be no more waiting for a new book by MC to come out. All that is gone. I have a hollow feeling wrapping me. Something is lost. It will never be the same again, like there will never be another one like MC...

It is also saddening for me in another way. It was one of my biggest dreams to meet him one day. But now that's a dream that will never come true. Life is not fair sometimes...

But it is of no use to dwell over things we cannot control. Rather, it's best to remember who he was, what he did and enjoy the great works of him. And pass them to the generations to come. I certainly will...

Though he is gone, the legacy he leaves behind will live forever!

Thank you Michael.
May your soul rest in peace.


  1. Thanks, Sach... that was a beautiful tribute. Sniff... I still think I'm dreaming, anxious and fearful without knowing why; that I will wake up, the sun will be shining and the morning news will say that Michael is scheduled to speak today at a symposium or will meet the media and scientists armed with facts and graphs and pose questions to them they cannot answer. Or I'll wake and know that the world is a safer place with a very unique man taking aim at the insanity of this world with a rare presence of mind that questions stale consensus. But there is no waking to this wishful thinking. MC is gone and with him a great positive influence on science and social systems. He is already sorely missed, a very personal loss for me. Yet filling the pages on my bookshelf remain the thoughts and soul of the man who dared me to question our world of inconsistencies and emotional hype, of dangerous pseudoscience and behind-the-scenes nefarious liasons.

    May the force be with you, Michael, wherever you are; a breath, a presence to carry you to your next goal of service to humanity. I will always cherish your works and be changed by them, and for this I'm grateful. God speed...

  2. I loved the SPHERE. What an awesome read.
    What an awesome writer.

  3. Goodbye Michael,
    You are my favorite author off all time.
    No one could top you. I will miss you and your great stories. Rest in peace.

  4. Nancy, WOW you touched my heart with that! Well yeah, I don't have enought words to say, to express my feelings either. So I will not be saying anything else... it's just that hollow feeling.. something big is missing from you life... it's not coming back... gone.. forever...

    BE, ain't that a wonderful read? To this day that is the book I recommend to anyone who wants to get started with MC's books. It so gripps you that you can hardly not like his stuff anymore...
    Respect indeed!

    Anonymous, he will surely be missed in the years to come.
    What a loss...