The Late Michael Crichton’s Next, Though Politically Charged, Is Not His Best

I think that Michael Crichton is a spectacular writer. Not only are his stories compelling, his plots engaging and his writing enjoyable, but his ability to incite something entirely different in his reader is remarkable. Why? Because he often writes about topics that are (or should be) important issues of public discourse.

Crichton does not merely pick some outrageous sci-fi notion and run with it to the ends of the earth. He writes science fiction that is well-researched and of practical public interest. He then crafts a story that pushes the boundaries of “what if” while demonstrating the numerous issues that surround the topic at hand, whether nanotechnology, biological experimentation or global warming – one of the largest thorns in his side.

He was an outspoken public critic of complacency and constantly sought to shake up the status-quo. When unethical or damaging tactics were allowed to plague an institute of government, a scientific research facility, or the media, he seized upon them and exposed them in the best way he knew how – creative science fiction grounded in reality.

Next was Crichton’s jab at genetic technology and gene experimentation. This well-researched book ended with a series of recommendations for how American politics, government and people should proceed in regards to these issues. The book itself was fascinating for the issues it exposed but for some reason this time I just couldn’t grab hold of the slightly over the top sci-fi elements.

I certainly feel more educated about genetic research and the state of affairs of politics and science than I did before – thanks to his grounding these books in facts – but the sci-fi elements themselves were just not for me this time. I won’t stop reading Crichton’s books, though, but sadly we won’t be seeing any more of them (that aren’t published posthumously).

Here’s to you, Mr. Crichton. Thanks!

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Stan and Kyle are Guitar Hero Winners on South Park episode 1113, “Guitar Queer-O”

You know, I never got particularly into Guitar Hero. Actually I never played it at all. Played a little real guitar back in the day, but had barely even heard of Guitar Hero when this episode came out (cut me some slack, I was living out of the country for two years at the time).

But this episode really puts Guitar Hero in its place. We’ve seen videogame episodes before (“Make Love, Not Warcraft,” and “Towelie”), but I think this episode was different because it reminded us of how actually lame Guitar Hero is – and, of course, those other episodes weren’t about Guitar Hero. Take the time spent playing that and learn to play the guitar for real for Christ’s sake! (seriously, it’s what Jesus would want).

Like “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” though, this episode attempts to remind us of what’s going on in the real world by making the videogame so supremely important that we can’t see past it. This was the essence of “Towelie.” The boys were so into their videogame that they didn’t realize their lives were providing them with those sensations for real.

But enough ranting about videogames. We all need mental outlets and like anything done with moderation, videogames can be a great way to spend a little time. Like heroine.

What did you think of this episode? Do you play Guitar Hero? What’s your high score?

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