John Michael Crichton (rhymes with frighten; October 23, 1942 – November 4, 2008), best known as Michael Crichton, was an American author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted into films. In 1994, Crichton became the only creative artist ever to have works simultaneously charting at #1 in television, film, and book sales (with ER, Jurassic Park, and Disclosure, respectively).
His literary works are usually based on the action genre and heavily feature technology. His novels epitomise the techno-thriller genre of literature, often exploring technology and failures of human interaction with it, especially resulting in catastrophes with biotechnology. Many of his future history novels have medical or scientific underpinnings, reflecting his medical training and science background. Among others, he was the author of Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Travels, Sphere, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey, State of Fear, Next (the final book published before his death), Pirate Latitudes (published November 24, 2009), and a final unfinished techno-thriller yet to be released. Forbes listed Crichton in tenth place in its list of "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities" of 2009.
John Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois, to John Henderson Crichton, a journalist, and Zula Miller Crichton, on October 23, 1942. He was raised on Long Island, in Roslyn, New York, and had three siblings: two sisters, Kimberly and Catherine, and a younger brother, Douglas. Crichton showed a keen interest in writing from a young age and at the age of just 14 had a column related to travel published in The New York Times. Crichton had always planned on becoming a writer and began his studies at Harvard College in 1960. During his undergraduate study in literature, he conducted an experiment to catch out a professor who he believed was giving him abnormally low marks and criticizing his literary style. Informing another professor of his suspicions, Crichton plagiarized a work by George Orwell and submitted it as his own. The paper was returned by his unwitting professor with a mark of "B−". His issues with the English Department led Crichton to switch his course to biological anthropology as an undergraduate, obtaining his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in 1964. He was also initiated into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He went on to become the Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellow from 1964 to 1965 and Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1965.