Michael Crichton and the Doppleganger (plus exclusive excerpt from early Crichton crime novel)


At the risk of being a hater, I’ve always found Crichton’s novels pretty disappointing. For example, (spoiler alert) Timeline’s denouement that the evil industrialist’s secret plot for time travel is to use it for research in order to create really realistic theme parks. Uh, what?


Hard Case Crime paperback reprints of 8 books Michael Crichton wrote under a pseudonym (John Lange) between 1966 and 1972.

Binary: http://www.amazon.com/Binary-Hard-Crime-Michael-Crichton/dp/1783291257/

Easy Go: http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Go-Hard-Case-Crime/dp/1783291206/

Grave Descend: http://www.amazon.com/Grave-Descend-Michael-Crichton/dp/1783291249/

Scratch One: http://www.amazon.com/Scratch-One-Hard-Case-Crime/dp/1783291192/

Drug of Choice: http://www.amazon.com/Drug-Choice-Hard-Case-Crime/dp/1783291230/

Odds On: http://www.amazon.com/Odds-On-Michael-Crichton/dp/1783291184/

The Venom Business: http://www.amazon.com/Venom-Business-Hard-Case-Crime/dp/1783291222/

Zero Cool: http://www.amazon.com/Zero-Cool-Hard-Case-Crime/dp/1783291214/

Crichton had a really weird obsession with history-themed amusement parks. It worked for Westworld and Jurassic Park, but it was such a ridiculous plot device for Timeline that it made me want to throw the book into a bonfire.

Evil Industrialist: Gentlemen: though our company is facing major financial shortfalls, I am pleased to announce that we have secretly perfected a number of exclusive next-generation technologies including miniaturized language translators, quantum computing, teleportation and even time travel. Now it’s time to finally cash in!

Board Member: You mean sell the translators to revolutionize international business and tourism? Dominate the computing and transportation industries? Use our knowledge of the future to make trillions on the stock market?

Evil Industrialist: No! We will use our knowledge of the past to build historically accurate theme parks! Tourists love history-themed amusement parks!

Board Member: But we’re a tech company with no experience building theme parks. Did we even do any market research on this? I think Disney lost a ton of money on a failed attempt to build a history-themed amusement park back in the '90s.

Evil Industrialist: [Presses button to teleport board member into cretaceous-era volcano.]


I love his books (or at least I did when I was reading them in middle/high school–haven’t picked one up in a long time). But while Crichton was a master of amazing concepts and exciting story-lines, he really sucked at endings.

In far too many of his books, after some world-altering force has spun out of control (alien disease poised to wipe out humanity, alien sphere makes nightmares reality, velociraptors run amok), it just goes away (or gets wished away or bombed away or whatever).

Michael Crichton - using his own name this time - also produced an excellent work on the artist Jasper Johns.

Always enjoyed his novels but after a while I started to feel like I was reading screen plays. I’m sure that as soon as he hit the first keystroke he was thinking about how the book would play as a movie.

But Looker (1981) is perfect.


Or they all agree to forget about it.


As soon as I finished reading Jurassic Park I thought “This would make a great movie.” A couple of days later the news reported that Hollywood was making a Jurassic Park movie. I can’t tell you what year that was exactly, but I know it was a summer announcement because I was at the beach with a bad case of food poisoning from a hotel seafood dish and had plenty of time to blow through the book.

I used to like Crichton until I found out that he’s a climate change denialist. Fuck him.


Never saw a pic of him but intrigued, I Googled. I wouldn’t kick him out of bed!

He probably doesn’t look much like that these days.

1 Like

What I always hated about his novels is that everything always goes back to the status quo at the end of novels – the alien artifact is destroyed, the time travel technology is lost, and so on – and nobody in general society learns about the great breakthroughs. I understand this conceit in television shows like “The X-Files” – you can’t really have a series about secret investigations of aliens and monsters if everybody knows about them, but in a novel, why not?

He’s not as cute as “that salad dressing guy” (Paul Newman - my daughter’s description) was in his heyday, but,certainly acceptable. He’s gotta be kinda old now though.

1 Like

Kinda dead, actually.

1 Like

Did anyone here ever see The Final Countdown? It is not a Crichton movie, just all the talk of disappointing endings to interesting plot setups make me think of it. The film’s conceit is that the USS Nimitz gets time-traveled back to 1940s Pearl Harbor right before the Japanese attack. And that’s it… right before anything happens, it time travels back to the present. Blah.

1 Like

Actually I think Michael Chrichton and Paul Newman look more alike every day now.


Psshaw, Newman had better bone structure.


Chrichton has his strong suits too. You can just get lost in those eye sockets.