Saturday, August 2, 2008

Michael Crichton Doesn't Write His Books

I remember reading Timeline by Michael Crichton
and getting sucked in by the high concept quantum
foam wormholes and by the debunking of various medieval
myths about height and bathing habits. It was a combination
SF novel and history lesson. I started to notice some things.
Some clumsily childish use of words like when a literary speed freak
runs out of pills or powder. It kept happening and then I
realized that behind the concept there was a vacuum.
I knew who wrote it but I couldn't believe any one person
could write something so blatantly bad.
I've heard the guy is a sadistic SOB but what did I ever do to him?

I remember when Crichton did the book tour for Rising Sun.
The theme of the tour was the declining quality of American
goods and manufacturing. At a press conference a reporter
actually had the bad manners to ask Crichton about the
declining quality of his writing and was it reflective
of American writing in general? His answer was something
about leaving it to others, to history and to the ages
to decide his legacy. His intention wasn't writing
masterpieces, after all, because he was writing for his public
and bla, bla bla.

It was like, when he wrote Timeline, he was bored and, after
too many martini's, announced to himself I'm going to try to
write a crap book and we'll see if any reviewer has
the nerve to call me out and say he wouldn't use it for toilet paper.
Better yet, he might have said, I'll write the chapter outlines and I'll give
it to a ten year old to write. Nah, then they'll explain it away by
saying I'm writing a children's book. That will ruin everything.
Wait, I'll give it to Ann Rice and she'll get bored and farm it
out to her editors and that will be my manifesto on how to
write a bad book. Not only won't any reviewer have the nerve
to write a bad review but all my dedicated readers
won't notice the difference even after seeing, what will be,
an even worse, unspeakably crap movie. They'll just have
to keep coming back for more. And they will.

Not this time wormhole.