Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was the bestselling techno-thriller author of worldwide loved books such as The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, Timeline, Congo, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Prey, and Airframe, to name just a few. He gained notoriety with The Andromeda Strain, published back in 1968. A decade after his death and half a century after the publication of The Andromeda Strain, a second book was published titled The Andromeda Evolution, turning Andromeda into a second series, following his initial one titled Jurassic Park.
Here are the Michael Crichton books in order for the author whom we all love and dearly miss. We also list the books written under his various pseudonyms.
New Michael Crichton Book
Jurassic Park Series
- Odds On, 1966, written as John Lange
- Scratch One, 1967, written as John Lange
- A Case of Need, 1968, written as Jeffery Hudson
- Easy Go, 1968, written as John Lange
- The Venom Business, 1969, written as John Lange
- Zero Cool, 1969, written as John Lange
- Drug of Choice, 1970, written as John Lange
- Grave Descend, 1970, written as John Lange
- Dealing, 1971, written as Michael Douglas
- The Terminal Man, 1972
- Binary, 1972, written as John Lange
- The Great Train Robbery, 1973
- Westworld, 1974
- Eaters of the Dead, 1976 (aka The 13th Warrior)
- Congo, 1980
- Sphere, 1987
- Rising Sun, 1991
- Disclosure, 1994
- Twister, 1996, co-authored with Anne-Marie Martin
- Airframe, 1996
- Timeline, 1998
- Prey, 2002
- State of Fear, 2004
- Next, 2006
- Pirate Latitudes, 2009
- Micro, 2011, co-authored with Richard Preston
- Dragon Teeth, 2017
Non-Fiction Michael Crichton Books
- Five Patients, 1970
- Jasper Johns, 1977
- Electronic Life, 1983
- Travels, 1988
Books Featuring Michael Crichton
- Michael Crichton, 1996 by Elizabeth A Trembley
Michael Crichton Biography
John Michael Crichton was born in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, and he passed away from cancer in 2008, in Los Angeles, California. The oldest son of four children, he grew up on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York. His father, John Henderson Crichton, was a journalist who was drafted to fight in WWII. Michael had an interest in reading and writing from a very young age. When he was 14, The New Your Times published an article Michael wrote about a trip he made to Sunset Crater, cementing his intention of becoming a writer later in life.
In 1960, he enrolled at Harvard College, which is the undergraduate college belonging to Harvard University. There he studied literature, and at one time he had an interesting encounter with one of his professors who would undermine his any attempt at getting good grades in classes. After mentioning this to another teacher, Michael submitted a paper that was written by the famous writer George Orwell, which was also graded a B-. Of course, this was before the internet times.
Because of his problems with the English department, he soon switched majors to biological anthropology, from where he graduated with summa cum laude in 1964. Soon after he also joined the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society, the oldest academic honor society in the U.S. The same year he got a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship for one year, so in 1965 he was found in the U.K. as a visiting lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.
As a next step in his education, he enrolled at Harvard Medical School, but soon he realized he hated studying medicine. During his time at the university, the Michael Crichton debut novel was written. He wrote it in 1965 and got it published the next year, in 1966 under his pseudonym John Lange. Initially he submitted it to Doubleday who was not interested enough in it, so the book was finally published by New American Library.
This initial book was quite successful for its time, so John Lange managed to write quite a few books before Michael Crichton began writing under his own name, long after he no longer wanted to become a doctor.
In 1969, Michael Chricton graduated with an MD from Harvard, and for one year he did a post-doctoral fellowship study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Still he never got a license to practice medicine as he didn’t really want to practice medicine.
The first Michael Crichton book that made an impact both on him and his readers was A Case of Need, which he wrote under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson. This is where the budding techno-thriller we knew and loved started to come out of his shell. The book was a medical thriller where technology would feature prominently. In 1969, the book earned the author an Edgar Award, and it was also made into the movie titled The Carey Treatment, which was released in 1972. He only used the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson for this one book.
While he still continued for a while writing under the name John Lange, at the end of the third year in medical school he knew for a fact that he didn’t want to become doctor, but that writing was what he intended to do during the rest of his life. Soon after, he started publishing his new books under his real name, Michael Crichton. The first to be published as such was The Andromeda Strain, in 1969.
The Andromeda Strain was the book that established Michael Crichton as an internationally bestselling author. It was also the very first book I have read by him. It made such an impact on me that soon I have started to seek out reading techno-thrillers, although back in the 1980s, the genre was not as popular as it is now.
It took Michael Crichton three years to write the book, and he was inspired to write it after reading The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton, during his temporary stay in the U.K.
The book not only became a smashing success all over the world, but the film rights have been soon bought for a staggering $250,000. The movie was released in 1971 with Robert Wise as director. He is the same director who is known for films such as West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Citizen Kane.
Reading the Michael Crichton books in order is really only important for his two short series, since everything else is standalone. However, I do recommend catching up to everything has been created in other media in the Westworld franchise, starting with his book, then the same-titled movie, and the follow-up movie and TV shows. Each is a masterpiece on its own.
In 1970, Michael wrote his first non-fiction book, Five Patients, which featured some of his medical experiences at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In 1971, he co-authored a book with his brother, Douglas Crichton, which got several rewrites both by him and his brother. The book, titled Dealing: or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues, was published in 1971 under the pseudonym Michael Douglas, and the next year, in 1972, it was turned into a same-titled movie.
A short few years later, in 1974, Westworld was published, the book that sparked the creation of not only a science-fiction western movie in 1973 titled Westworld but also several additional movies and TV shows, including the popular Westworld TV HBO series which aired its first season in 2016 featuring Anthony Hopkins as a main actor.
In an inteview, Michael Crichton mentioned that often he gets ideas for his thrillers based on questions he wants answers to himself. For example, in writing Timeline, he was interested in learning more about the real life of medieval knights, and for Prey, he was curious to explore more the topic of self-reproducing technologies. As for actually writing the books, at times it took him one year, three years, or in case of Sphere, which was eventually made into a movie, it took him 20 years to write it.
As an interesting note, State of Fear, is probably one of the most controversial Michael Crichton books. It tackles global warming and climate change; however, the author’s views were that global warming was nothing but a scientific hoax that was used to justify acts of eco-terrorism. Soon after writing the book, people began distancing themselves from the author, and environmentalists were extremely angry with him for his views in his book. In an interview in 2005, he mentioned
People say our grandchildren will loathe us, but they will also loathe us if we waste trillions of dollars tackling a problem that is non-existent.
Sadly, global warming is all too earl and urgent. Even Hillary Clinton mentioned that his views “muddy the issues around sound science.”
Besides being an author, Michael Crichton also worked as a film director at times. When ABC TV approached him for the TV rights for his book Binary, he only agreed under the condition that he would direct the film. He also directed the Westworld 1974 film, following which he wrote the script for Extreme Close-Up, an erotic thriller.
In addition, he wrote and adapted Coma, a movie based on the bestselling medical thriller novel by Robin Cook, and then he adapted The First Great Train Robbery, a book that was published in 1973. Michael Crichton also worked on a video game titled Amazon, which was released in 1984 on several platforms.
Several Michael Crichton books have been over the years adapted to the big screen or the TV, some of which were produced or written the scripts by the author himself. Crichton also wrote scripts for directed movies such as Runaway (1984), and Physical Evidence (1989).
During his writing career, the author had several novels become worldwide bestsellers in other mediums, some of which are popular even today. The whole Jurassic Park franchise is based on his book, and the TV series ER is based on 24 Hours, a script he wrote for the pilot.
The last book published during his lifetime was Next, released in 2006. Michael Crichton died two years later, in 2008. After his death, a script has been found on his computer for Pirate Latitudes, which was published in 2009. While he was alive, Michael worked on a new manuscript which was completed posthumously by Richard Preston and published in 2011 under the title Micro. Dragon Teeth, a book that the author worked on back in 1974, was published in 2017 by HarperCollins. Dragon Teeth was also made into a six-hour mini-series for the National Geographic Channel Also, in 2019, Andromeda Strain became part of a two-book series when Daniel H. Wilson wrote The Andromeda Evolution, published in November 2019.
In 2008, at the age of 66, the author Michael Crichton passed away in Los Angeles while battling lymphoma, a very difficult type of cancer. The disease was discovered in 2008, and he died the very same year. He was cremated, and his ashes have been given to his family. Michael’s legacy carries on with names such as Westworld, Jurassic Park, and ER (a TV show which basically jump-started the acting career of George Clooney).
For his books and works in other media, Michael Crichton won several awards over the years. In 1968 he won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe for Case of Nee. In 1980 he won the Edgar Award for Great Train Robbery. In 1995, he won a Technical Achievement Academy Award for “pioneering computerized motion picture budgeting and scheduling.” In 1994 he won the George Foster Peabody Award for ER. In 1995 he won the Writer’s Guild of America Award, Best Long Form Television Script for ER.
Praise for Michael Crichton
He reduced giant stars and brilliant directors to kids looking up to this gentle giant. (George Clooney)
Michael’s talent outscaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs walking the earth again. In the early days, Michael had just sold The Andromeda Strain to Robert Wise at Universal and I had recently signed on as a contract TV director there. My first assignment was to show Michael Crichton around the Universal lot. We became friends and professionally Jurassic Park, ER, and Twister followed. 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.. (Stephen Spielberg)
The story is dramatic, plausible, well-written and not only medically accurate but medically fascinating. (The Minneapolis Tribune on A Case of Need)
Crichton’s dinosaurs are genuinely frightening (Chicago Sun-Times)
A Crichton book was a headlong experience driven by a man who was both a natural storyteller and fiendishly clever when it came to verisimilitude; he made you believe that cloning dinosaurs wasn’t just over the horizon but possible tomorrow. Maybe today. (Stephen King)
Crichton excells at storytelling. (Newsday)
Crichton/Lange’s ability to pull you into his books is nearly unmatched. Though it applies to all the Lange pulps, you really can’t put this book away. (Trash Mutant on Odds On)
In Binary, [Crichton] displays once again his remarkable talent for writing novels of ingeniously plotted, nonstop suspense. (The Literary Guild Magazine)
After you’ve read the first page, you’ll want to read on to the last. (The Wall Street Journal on Binary)
This is Crichton on top form, preying on our fears about new technology and convincing us that we aren’t half as afraid as we should be. (The Times on State of Fear)
Science fiction, which once frightened me because it seemed so far-out, now frightens me because it seems so near. The Andromeda Strain is as matter-of-fact as the skull-and-crossbones instructions on a bottle of poison – and just as chillingly effective (Life Magazine on The Andromeda Strain)
Mixing cutting-edge science with thrills and spills, this is classic Crichton. (Daily Mirror on Prey)
A lusty, rollicking 17th century adventure…. History as entertainment…. Crichton has done his homework. (USA Today on Pirate Latitudes)
Micro is Anything But Small (James Rollins)
- The official Michael Crichton author website
- Michael Crichton obituary
- Michael Crichton debate on global warming
- The Wall Street Journal on Michael Crichton