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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mark Steyn on Michael Crichton ...

Steyn assesses the legacy of just-deceased Crichton, who often wrote aboout just-over-the-cutting-edge science,
I like the way Crichton’s thriller brings us the usual low characters with the usual low motives – sleazy men with the hots for unfeasibly breasted babes. But, in doing so, he reminds you how easily we accept what would once have seemed downright creepy: cities full of women with concrete embonpoints that bear no relation to the rest of their bodies. As one character says, he knows they’re fake and they don’t feel right but it turns him on anyway. If you can accept, in effect, a technological transformation of something as central as sexual arousal, why would you have any scruples about what technology can do for the human body in far more peripheral areas? By the time an accused pederast is advised by his lawyers to claim his need for transgressive sexual encounters is due to his having the “novelty gene”, you begin to appreciate the horrors that lie ahead: for tactical advantage here and there, we’re likely to wind up surrendering strategically the essence of humanity. It is, in Crichton’s telling, both a thriller and a comedy of errors, a big grab-bag of ideas wrapped up in one kaleidoscopic whole. I wish more novelists meandering through fey limpid literary inconsequentialities would try books like this, but who knows? Maybe they lack the blockbuster gene.
Of course, when you get there, they're not horrors, they are just the latest development.

See also:

Novelist Michael Crichton: Science has nothing to do with consensus


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