Sci-fi author Michael Crichton dies at age 66: family

LOS ANGELES ~ Michael Crichton, author of bestselling science fiction adventures including Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain, died of cancer in Los Angeles, aged 66, his family said on Wednesday.
“Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, after a courageous and private battle against cancer,” said a statement posted on the author’s website.
Crichton wrote numerous blockbusters, some of which sold over 100 million copies, translated in 30 languages worldwide. He also created the international hit television hospital drama series E.R., screened around the world.
The Andromeda Strain, which catapulted him to Hollywood fame after it was published in 1969, told the story of US scientists battling an alien virus that lands in New Mexico from outer space and drives humans to bizarre and grisly deaths.
In Jurassic Park, made into a blockbuster 1993 movie, Crichton’s human characters were chased around by rampaging dinosaurs created genetically on an island run by an ambitious scientist.
“The world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us – and entertained us all while doing so,” the family statement said.
His “family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes,” it added.
“Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand,” it said.
“He leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world.”
The family appealed for privacy and said no details of the writer’s funeral would be released.
Crichton was born in October 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He studied anthropology at Harvard and taught at Cambridge University in England before spending time in Europe and North Africa.
He then returned to the United States to train as a doctor, writing thrillers to pay his school fees.
In 2005 Crichton’s 600-page bestseller State of Fear sparked controversy by casting doubt on claims of the dangers of global warming.
US film director Steven Spielberg, director of the Jurassic Park movie, paid tribute to Crichton.
“Michael’s talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park,” Spielberg said in a statement. “He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth.
“Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.”

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