Michael Crichton

Fiction Prediction: How Crichton Prophesied Our Awful Internet Age

The past two or three years, in my late twenties, I’ve almost exclusively read fiction. Call it escapism, call it the consequences of a creative writing college program, call it what you want — but after years of reading memoirs, business biographies and spiritual poetry, I’ve sunk my brainteeth into something else. I read fiction because I believe that is where the truth lies.

The author, or the voice, or narrator — whatever — through the guise of fiction is freer to speak.

As original hipster Sir Philip Sidney famously wrote:

Now for the poet, he nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth. For, as I take it, to lie is to affirm that to be true which is false; so as the other artists, and especially the historian, affirming many things, can, in the cloudy knowledge of mankind, hardly escape from many lies. The poet, as I said before, never affirmeth… He citeth not authorities of other histories, but even for his entry calleth the sweet Muses to inspire into him a good invention; in troth, not laboring to tell you what is or is not, but what should or should not be. And therefore though he recount things not true, yet because he telleth them not for true he lieth not.”

-The Defense of Poesy (1595)

Kevin, why are you quoting poetry? You don’t even like poetry.

Because I’m about to quote a Jurassic Park book, and I want to seem smart before I do.

What Sidney is saying is that the poet (or the author) has more power to tell the truth than anyone else, because storytelling taps into something that arguments, facts, and heavy rhetoric cannot. It taps into the human experience, which, of course, is truth. The reader is not agreeing or liking characters, but absorbing and experiencing, seeking to understand and further enrich his or her life. We might not agree with Ahab, for instance, on his search for the white whale, and we’re certainly not rooting for Kurtz in the African jungle, but we understand their quests and motives, and it teaches us something about ourselves, even if it’s dark and ugly.  

Whew. Okay, that took too much brain power.

A few months ago I read the sequel to Michael Crichton’s mega-famous novel, Jurassic Park, called The Lost World, and there was a passage in a stretch of dialogue that metaphorically punched me in the proverbial stomach.

Those who have read Crichton’s novels know the man was a genius. Agree or disagree with his logic, the guy had brains. As it turns out, the late science fiction author (that is, science with a sprinkle of fiction) of The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Sphere, and a bunch of other fantastic tales, was also a passive-aggressive Internet prophet.

In Crichton’s 1995 novel, The Lost World, his protagonist — the chaos-theory-mathematician Ian Malcolm (played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum in the movies) — aptly predicts our modern, ultra-aware, internet-addicted, hyper-connected population. His outlook, however, is bleak.


Our Lost World

“I think cyberspace means the end of our species.”

Say what now? (more…)

Modern Mantras in Aged Fiction: Crichton’s Formula for Success

Hidden away in a forty year old (mainstream) fiction novel—a potboiler, a seemingly shallow tale, prime facie—lies the secret formula for life’s success. I almost couldn’t believe it when I read it. It was so simple, so perfect. See, I’ve perused business books and self-help guides, written by CEOs, millionaires and pastors; all these people with too much time on their hands, penning “how to succeed in life.” And I’ve read them, too, because that’s what leaders do. We read books and make mantras and talk about them on our blogs. But the lessons learned in business books often dissipate faster than tweets, and we’re again left with just ourselves, curious and conspiring.

But these two sentences said everything—articulated in a cold, simple language, a language that only Michael Crichton, the master of logical and academic science fiction, could accomplish.

You went out and you hunted, armed with your maps and your instruments, but in the end your preparations did not matter, or even your intuition. You needed your luck, and whatever benefits accrued to the diligent, through sheer, grinding hard work.

Take a second, and read it again. For me? And take it slow, because these are two damn-good, well-constructed sentences. Drink them like you would an overpriced glass of wine, and when you’re done, close your eyes to impress your friends. (more…)

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

Recently, I made a pact with my brain. That over summer I would spend more time reading than Netflixing. Netflix, my best fake friend, is a great tool for relaxing, especially after a 23 credit semester, say, by me. And, oh, I wanted to veg-out on Netflix more than my hipster neighbor wanted rollerblades. But I made a pact, and pacts are serious.

Previous post-semester breaks have included many veg-out TV series marathons (8 seasons of 24 and 9 seasons of How I Met Your Mother come to mind). To be Frank, I’ve still been enjoying Netflix in moderate occasions: a Sherlock episode here, a Comedy Bang-Bang there. But moderate is where I’m trying to keep it.  It’s time to take a break from marathon Netflix summers and, instead, marathon some books.

And the readings have been excellent so far.

If you are looking for some great books to read, then please, read these. We can talk about them together and start a cool kid reading club. Maybe you’ve read a few. Maybe you’ll have a little catching up to do. Maybe you can pick and choose. Either way, join my club. It will be ultra hip and hella sick. We’ll watch The Pagemaster together at the end of summer, and it will be fun.

Kevin’s Ultra Hip (Hella Sick) Summer Book Club

 The_Stand_cover1. The Stand by Stephen King – Completed

I just finished this one the other night, and I had never felt so accomplished. 1200 breathtaking pages. Technically though, it’s sort of cheating. I started the book back in December. The Stand is super long, and I had to wait till my semester was over to read most of it. But it was worth it! Also, Hollywood making a big budget movie. You could be ahead of the curve! (more…)

Versatile Blogger Award!

versatileblogger111Well, well, well. Looksy what eye’s got here. A bloddy blawgah award! (Can you tell I’m in a good mood?)

I was recently nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by Adeline from Dancing in the Storm. She writes a great blog about her faith, her marriage, and her missionary work. She says that writing keeps her “grounded,” reading her posts does the same for me. Thanks Adeline!

Embarrassingly I must admit, a couple months ago I was nominated for this by Tony from his amazing blog, A Way With Words. Tony, thank you. I’m sorry this took me so long! Simply, your blog inspires me to be a better writer.

To accept the award, I have to tell Adeline and Tony seven things about me. Let’s keep this brief.

Seven About Kevin 

1. I started the year in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; the next day moved to San Luis Obispo, California. By Fall, Rochester, New York will be my home.

2. Science fiction is my favorite fiction genre. I grew up watching The X-Files, and reading books about UFOs and conspiracy theories. I’m currently reading Sphere by Michael Crichton and it’s awesome.

3. I never wanted to sing, nor have I ever been good at it. Yet, I’ve fronted a local rock band AND led worship at various churches through the years. The microphone has always had it out for me.

4. Singer/Songwriters that inspire me: Denison Witmer, Ben Folds, The Avett Brothers.

5. Oddly enough, Ecclesiastes is my favorite book in the bible.

6. I’m married to a great girl named Megan. She puts sunscreen on my back. The beach and I have since reunited.

7. Favorite Movies: The Truman Show, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, A Bronx Tale, Empire Strikes Back, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind!

Fifteen I’ve Nominated 

Around the time Tony nominated me, I had just taken up blogging again (at least, on a consistent basis). I wasn’t really sure what a blog award was.

Also, I was a wordpress hermit—there weren’t 15 other bloggers I knew to nominate.

Times have changed; we have microwave ovens now. I read more than I write, and I’m writing better because of it. The best part of this award is that I get to give this gift that was graciously given to me.

Here you go; you all deserve this (in no order):

1. Immortal Nobody

2. ArcSurf

3. Wild Magik II

4. Dream A Lot Louder

5. apprentice2jesus

6. Merely David

7. Gabriel Garfield

8. My Sanguine Life

9. The Misfit Christian

10. Roots Like Oaks

11. Mark Block

12. Steak and a Bible

13. Pastor’s Ponderings

14. Hiking to Healthy

15. Omnia’s World

Thanks again Adeline and Tony. You guys are the best. I’m very, very grateful for this award.

Now on with the show!