Michael Crichton, RIP

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He died yesterday, and like C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley - both of whom entered the next life on November 22, 1963 - his passing was overshadowed by larger events. Not that he was in Lewis's or Huxley's league, obviously: Peter Suderman's observation that most of his novels "were blockbuster scripts written in choppy prose" is pretty much on the mark. (Not coincidentally, Crichton was a prolific screenwriter and producer as well.) But one of them - I mean Jurassic Park, of course -  transcended its wooden characters and workmanlike prose to achieve something like a platonic ideal of a certain kind of thriller. It's almost impossible to imagine a better marriage of sci-fi and page-turning potboiler than what Crichton came up with in that novel - and while the Spielberg adaptation obviously adds a certain amount of, ah, visual stimulus to the equation, I still think the book is better. Read it, if you haven't, and may its author rest in peace.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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