Back from the dead: unknown works by Crichton discovered
Tuesday 07 April 2009
Like the dinosaurs he created in Jurassic Park, or the mutating virus at the centre of The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton is back from the dead. The late author will mount a final assault on the best-seller lists from beyond the grave.
Crichton, who died of cancer in November aged 66, left a treasure trove of work on his personal computer, his estate revealed yesterday. The valuable cache includes a completed historical thriller and roughly a third of a new science-fiction novel. Both will be released over the next 18 months, with the first novel, an adventure story called Pirate Latitudes set in 17th-century Jamaica, hitting stores in time for Christmas.
"Pirate Latitudes is obviously unedited, but the book is complete, and it will all be his own work," said Julia Wisdom, Crichton's UK publisher at HarperCollins. "Like all of his work, he wrote it in secret. He would have these extraordinary ideas, which he'd keep under his hat, before springing them on us when the manuscript was completed."
The new novel features a pirate named Hunter, the governor of Jamaica, and a plan to raid a Spanish treasure galleon. Though it marks a departure from Crichton's trademark science fiction, his US publisher, Jonathan Burnham, said it would be written with his customary eye for factual accuracy. "It's eminently and deeply and thoroughly researched," he told The New York Times, adding that in keeping with its potential blockbuster status, HarperCollins planned an initial print run of one million copies.
"It's packed through with great detail about navigation and how pirates operated, and links between the New World and the Caribbean and Spain."
When Mr Crichton died, he was half way through a two-book deal to write technological thrillers. The second of those novels is a third completed, with the plot outlines in copious notes. His estate plans to select a co-writer to finish the project. "We want a high-level thriller writer, somebody who understands Michael's work," Mr Burnham said. "From what I gather, there are notes and indications of which direction the novel was going, so the writer has material to work from apart from the actual material that was finished."
The discovery of fresh work by Crichton represents a shot in the arm for his publishers, and will be watched closely by Hollywood. In addition to selling more than 150 million books worldwide, he was also an Emmy-winning screenwriter and producer who created the hit TV series ER.
In 1993, Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of his novel Jurassic Park, about a scientist who manages to clone dinosaurs using DNA frozen in amber, and attempts to create a theme park, won three Oscars.
Although fans will be pleasantly surprised by news that he had several "secret" works in the pipeline, close colleagues say they were not surprised that Crichton had kept details of the project to himself. Lynn Nesbit, his agent for 40 years, said he was "the most private of all authors that I have ever met in my life." He never showed her any material before he had a complete draft. Aside from knowing that it was in the general category of "technological thriller," she had no idea what the incomplete novel was about.
She added that Crichton left "many, many electronic files", and said she was in the early stages of combing through them with his widow, Sherri. "We haven't begun to really go through it all," she said.
The publishing industry has recently made considerable sums by releasing new work inspired by deceased authors such as Robert Ludlum, author of the books that inspired the Bourne films, or Ian Fleming, whose James Bond franchise was recently revived in the hands of Sebastian Faulks. But HarperCollins said they are not planning to use Mr Crichton's name to create a franchise using ghost-writers. "We're not taking a name brand and spinning books out of it," said a spokesman.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Kurt Cobain's life and death: Montage of Heck film uses unseen footage to tell Nirvana frontman's story
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Drugs Live: Twitter responds to Jon Snow and Jennie Bond smoking cannabis
Jimmy McGovern's new TV series 'Banished': Why Australia's past has such resonance today
The Walking Dead, Remember, review: The discovery of a new community leads Rick to a dark decision
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'