I have previously established that I am not a fan of Michael Crichton, so I did not feel any loss when I heard that he had passed on. I am not happy for I am sure that in his wake he leaves grieving friends and family. I suspect that his books also brought people into bookstores, so that loss will be felt. I will not miss seeing the newest Crichton title poo-pooing the latest trend in technology. But I also cannot help smirking at the way he died: a long battle of cancer. I suspect it was a long and painful and for that I sympathize, but I see a funny coincidence between his subject of choice and the method of his death.
Luddites, while he is not a Luddite he is not too far off, would say his death is a cautionary tale: our technological drive has made the world toxic and we are thus more likely to die long drawn-out and painful deaths. But they are incorrect. Long painful demises happened even among the fictional noble savages the Luddites revere.
Crichton lived to be old enough to be afflicted by cancer because of the very technologies he warns about. His bout with cancer was probably less painful because of those same advances. His death may have even been avoided had he not scared off funding and interest in cutting edge technologies. A close of friend of mine, referred to in previous posts as The Girl, does work in development and nanotechnology and she says the chilling effect of Crichton’s Prey was noticeable.
Many defend Crichton as being pro-management instead of anti-technological and consequently my railings against him are undeserved. I contend that the link does exist: see my earlier post about Crichton for proof and also read Prey, the book is about the impotence of management. Even if the link is not true then one needs to ask if there is a real difference between pro-management and anti-technologist. The difference is so nuanced and subtle as to yield little real difference.
I do not want this post to paint me as a technological apologist, but it is important to know that technology can remedy many ills as well as improve people’s/worker’s quality of life. I enjoyed that his books were easy to read and fast paced and I do feel a loss for the future of books. But I worry that his books were political in a way that appeared apolitical and hence avoided drawing criticisms and examinations of the messages he was conveying. That is a loss I will not miss.