The Washington Times - November 6, 2008, 11:14AM

Somewhat lost in the shuffle of yesterday’s celebrations was the news that Michael Crichton, the author of “Jurassic Park,” “Sphere,” “Congo,” and myriad other books has died after a long (and very private) battle with cancer.

Crichton’s prose was never, shall we say, Pulitzer worthy, but those who criticize/dismiss him on those grounds are missing the point. His books were always infused with a sense of the real that gave them a striking level of immediacy. Bordering on brilliant—in addition to being a best selling novelist, the creator of ER, a film director, and a screenwriter, he also holds a MD from Harvard Medical school and graduated Phi Beta Kappa as an undergrad from Harvard—Crichton studied up on the subjects that interested him, often peppering his novels with footnotes and suggested further readings. Even the most fantastical plots were grounded in basic facts and realistic speculation; it was impossible to read something under his byline and not come away with a new kernel of knowledge.

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His most important contribution to public thought had yet to reach fruition, however; he was one of the few people with a public stage who had the courage to criticize the mania surrounding global warming, both on the lecture circuit and in his novel, “State of Fear.” His critics tried to dismiss him as a conservative crank without actually engaging in the arguments he brought up, but he would not be cowed into silence.