Brotherton on Crichton

Contributed by
Jul 24, 2008

I have issues with Michael Crichton. When I was a kid I loved The Andromeda Strain, and thought it was a cool movie. It wasn't until much later, after seeing Jurassic Park, I think it was, that I became aware of the clear antiscience -- literally, saying science is bad -- message.

Jurassic Park is full of that sort of thing. There Are Some Things Man Should Not Tamper With. And Crichton's science -- blecch. I laughed and laughed at how chaos theory was portrayed, and it was just as bad in the book. I wasn't sure if Crichton didn't understand chaos theory, or just horribly abused it for his plot.

It wouldn't have bugged me so much, but Crichton makes claims about being a scientist himself. He has a book out on denying global warming, and advised President Bush on it. James Hansen, an actual climate scientist, couldn't see Bush, but a guy who wrote about the work other people did got an audience. It's a crazy world.

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time, but then I was reading io9, and they had a post about Mike Brotherton, a fellow astronomer and blogger, as well as a science fiction writer (and BABloggee). Brotherton puts the hurt on Crichton's writings and attitudes, and wow if it doesn't parallel my thinking eerily.

Brotherton also links to a book dissecting Crichton's science, a collection of essays edited by our mutual friend Kevin Grazier (science advisor for Battlestar Galactica and Eureka). I'd very much like to read that, actually. I'll have to find a copy... and maybe get Kevin to sign it at Comic Con; we're both on a panel there about science in science fiction. It's sponsored by Discover Magazine, and it should be fun.

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