|Christina Arenas||Crichton, Michael: Timeline|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Crichton, Michael. Timeline. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
Alfred A. Knopf is a division of Random House, Inc. The copyright is also held by Ballantine Books, who published the first paperback edition in 1999 and 2000.
Parallel first editions include:
- New York:Random House Large Print, 1999 [first large print
- New York: Alfred A. Knofp, 1999 [first Book Club edition]
- A signed first edition of Timeline has been
privately printed by the Franklin Library
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first trade edition of Timeline was published by Alfred Knopf hardcover in 1999 followed by a paperback edition by Ballantine Books later that year.
|3. Image of Cover Art||A13191020923102304.jpg|
|4. Pagination||The pagination of Timeline is quite complicated. The even numbered pages, with some exceptions, contain the heading: Timeline, centered, with a rule line underneath. The odd numbered pages, with some exception of the title, introduction, chapter, and section pages contain the page number, centered, with a rule line underneath.
232 leaves, pp. [1-2] [i-iix] ix [x-xii] [1-4] *5-32 ** 34-116  118-160 *** 162-344 [445-448] 449-450
*Only odd pages of the book are numbered with some exceptions. The chapter pages are not numbered and are denoted by page indentation.
**The book consists of three sections: Corazon, Black Rock, Castelgard, which are not numbered
***The last section, Castelgard, contains chapters that are labeled according to a countdown series staring at 37:00:00.
Source: Gaskell's New Introduction to Bibliography, 332
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The book is not edited, however it is introduced by Crichton himself. In the Introduction: Science at the End of the Century, Crichton compares the advances that occured at the end of the 19th century with the current ones faced at the brink of the 21st century, concluding that we have only scratched the surface of understanding our universe. Crichton specifically mentions emerging quantum technologies, describing the possibilities of future phenomena only dreamed about, such as teleportation and quantum computers built from a single molecule. "The ITC in New Mexico was the first company to have a practical working application employing advanced quantum technology." This same technology provides the mechanism of time travel through which a Yale professor finds himself in 14th century France, in the middle of the One Hundred Years War.
After the author's introduction, there is a selection from M.D. Backes's The One Hundred Years War in France (1996), describing the heroism of Sir Oliver de Vannes, and English knight of the fourteenth century.
Source: First Trade Edition
|6. Illustrated?||Timeline is surprisingly very much illustrated, an oddity among contemporary adult novels. The illustrations are inserted into the novel itself (not on separate glossy paper) and some are even found between the text- not placed separately on individual pages.
The illustrations on pages: 199, 266, 286, 304, 328, 360, 406, and map on page 162 are drawings by Catherine Kanner. The Scientific illustrations and graphics appearing on pages: 111, 112, and 113 are created by Precision Graphics.
The mix of drawings and scientific illustrations depict the medley of art forms that existing in the novel that essentially travels between the technologically advanced future and the nostagic yet disconcerting past.
The scientific illustrations and drawings are very helpful to the reader in supplying him/her with visual representations of the sometimes complicated textual descriptons. The map on page 162, the sample illustration, is extremely helpful in giving the reader a sense of orientation in the settings of medieval France.
Sources: First Trade Edition, Berryville Graphics, R.R. Donnelley
|7. Sample Illustration||A17191020919122601.jpg|
|8. General Appearance||The book is 24cm length x 16cm width. The gutters and margins are both approximately 2cm wide, hinting that the book is not cheaply made, for it is not trying to conserve space with "skinny" margins and gutters. Instead, the reader is allowed to wander with ample space without fear of tight, imprisoning margins.
text: 100mm length x 115mm width
page: 235mm length x 155mm width
The text is very attractive with Minon 12pt font, large enough for the reader to read with ease. The print seems to be of high quality, seeing that it is resistant to smudging-even on the book's water damaged pages.
Comparing my personal copy to the one in Clemons, brings to my attention that the books have different printers. My personal copy is printed by Berryville Graphics, while the Librart copy is printed by R.R. Donnelley & Sons. Both printing houses are known for their specialty in printing graphics and drawings. The publisher may had divided the work load between these two printing houses because the first printing (1.5 million copies) may have been too much for one house to handle alone. The number of copies intially printed also show the estimated sucess of the book due to the popularity of the author.
Sources: Gale Info Trac Database, First Edition [personal], First Edition [Library]
|9. Image of Sample Chapter Page||A19191020919122601.jpg|
|10. Description of Paper||The paper seems to be of high quality due to its thickness. The paper is smooth with a sight yellowish tint. The pages are cut smooth along the head and tail of the book, but jagged along the fore edge. The paper seems to intact, without rips or tears, however pages 167 through 231 contain water stains along the top and bottom of the pages, and pages 199 through 216 remained wrinkled due to the apparent water incident. The ink quality is not damaged.
Sources: First Trade Edition, "Parts of a Book."
Gaskell's New Introduction to Bibliography, 238
|11. Description of Binding||Contemporary binding of first edition bestsellers in the late 20th century rocketed on a trend that deviated from cloth binding to a cheaper, though not as sturdy, substitute of hard board, which then could be dressed with a catchy, colorful dust jacket.
Timeline is no oddity among its bestselling peers. Its binding consists of a medium gray board-like material. The spine of the book is made of a black tape-like material that extends onto 2.5 cm (1") on either side of the gray board. The spine is 3.5 cm wide.
Transcription of the spine:
Horizonally in silver lettering:
MICHAEL CRICHTON| -TIMELINE-
Vertically on the bottom in silver lettering-
[Publisher's crest]| Knopf
The book's fly leaves and endpapers consist of smooth very thick paper in a creamy color. The pages are stitched together into several sections [though it is very difficult to tell how many], which are then stitched together and decorated with a black and red checkered muslin lining.
Individual Condition of the Binding:
The board covering seems to be holding up pretty well with minor tears near the fore edge on the front of the book and slightly crushed corners. The spine is not holding up quite as well. The silver lettering is beginning to fade and there are abrasions on the edge of the dark spine exposing the brown cardboard underneath.
Sources: First Trade Edition,
Gaskell's New Introduction to Bibliography, 233
|12. Title Page Transcription||Recto-
MICHAEL | CRICHTON | [rule line] | TIMELINE | [publisher's crest] | ALFRED A. KNOPF NEW YORK 1999
THIS BOOK IS A BORZOI BOOK | PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF| Copyright 1999 by Michael Crichton | All rights reserved underinternational and Pan-American Copyright | Conventions. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, | a division of Random House, Inc., New York. | www.randomhouse.com | Knopf, Borzoi Books and the colophon are registered trademarks | of Random House, Inc. | ISBN 0-679-44481-5 | Manufactured in the United States of America | First Trade Edition | A signed first edition of this book has been privately | printed by the Franklin Library. | This is a work of fiction. Characters, corporations. institutions, and organi- | zations in this novel are either the product of the suthor's imagination or, if | real, used fictitiously without any intent to describe their actual conduct. | Composed by Merri Ann Morrell, Chester, Connecticut | Printed and bound by Berryville Graphics, Berryville, Virginia | Designed by Virginia Tan | Drawings on pages 199, 266, 286, 304, 328, 360 and 406 | and map on page 162 by Catherine Kanner | Scientific illustrations on pages 111, 112, and 113 | by Precision Graphics
Sources: First Trade Edition,
Gaskell's New Introduction to Bibliography, 223-25
|13. Image of Title Page||A113191020919130355.jpg|
|14. Manuscript Holdings||After e-mailing Michael Crichton, I was promptly responded to by his publicist, Joe Marich, who stated, "They [the manuscripts] are in a secure vault." Unfortunately due to safety concerns, that was all the information on the manuscript holdings that could be disclosed.
Source: Crichton Official Site
|15. Other||Dust Jacket
Transcription of the front cover:
*MICHAEL | **CRICHTON | [head portrait of medieval armor] | ***TIMELINE
*Gray; **White; ***Red
See Image of Cover Art for actual picture.
Transcription of Front Sleeve of Dust Jacket:
Michael Crichton's new novel opens on the | threashold of the twenty-first century. It is is world | of exploding advances on the frontiers of technol- | ogy. Information moves instantly between two|points without wires or networks. Computers | are built from single molecules. Any momoent of | the past can be actualized-and a group of histo-rians can enter, literally, life in fourteenth-century | feudal France. | Imagine the risks of such a journey. |Not since Jurassic Park has Michael Crichton | given us a magnificent adventure. Here, he|combines a since of the future- the emerging | field of quantum technology- with the complex | realities of the medieval past. In a heart-stopping|narrative, Timeline carries us into a realm of un- | expected suspense and danger, overturning our|most basic ideas of what is possible. | A MAIN SELECTION OF | THE LITERARY GUILD
Transcription of Back Sleeve of Dust Jacket:
Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, in 1942. | His novels include The Andromeda Strain, The | Great Train Robbery, Congo, Jurassic Park, and | Disclosure. He is also the creator of the television | series ER. | For more information on Timeline and other | books by Michael Crichton, please visit | wwww.crichton-official.com | Also available from Random House AudioBooks | and in a Random House Large Print edition | Jacket design by Chip Kidd | [Publisher's crest] | ALFRED A. KNOPF, PUBLISHER, NEW YORK | www.randomnouse.com | 11/99
There are several quotes on pg.[vi]
"All great empires of the future will be empires of the mind."
-Winston Churchill, 1953
"If you don't know history, you don't know anything."
-Edward Johnston, 1990
"I'm not interested in the future. I'm interested in the future of the future."
-Robert Doniger, 1996
Quote from the Printer [ R.R. Donnelley & Sons]
"As we see it, the game is much bigger than putting ink on paper. Our role is to digitally capture and store our customer's content, convert it to the proper formats, and channel it to the desired forms of output. In doing so, we are a player not only in our traditional world of ink-on-paper but also in electronic media such as Web sites, e-mail, e-books and demand print."
Source: R.R. Donnelley
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, issued Timeline in a large print edition and a bookclub edition. The large print edition contains 16pt font, making the reading more favorable than the regular 10pt. Other than being bookclub and large print editions the basic layout, illustrations, cover art, and binding remain the same An ad advertising the large print edition can be viewed under supplementary materials.
The picture below shows the cover of the Ballantine paperback edition of Timeline. While Random House prints the hardcover trade editions of Michael Crichton, Ballantine is responsible for publishing the mass paperback editions.
PW: The High Concept of Michael Crichton; Worldcat
|2. Image of Cover Art||A22191021002170531.jpg|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||Knopf's first printing of Timeline's first trade edition resulted in 1.5 million copies.
PW: The High Concept of Michael Crichton; PW: Paper Windfalls
|5. Editions from other publishers?||1999, 2000- New York: Ballantine Books (pbk)*
1999- New York: Double Day Direct (large print)
1999- New York: Random House, published in association with
Ballantine Books, distributed by Random House (large
1999, 2000- London: Arrow
1999- London: Century
2000- Oxford: ISIS (large print pbk)
*Ballantine reports more than 2 million copies in print after 3 trips to the press.
|6. Last date in print?||As of October 2002, Timeline is still in print.
|7. Total copies sold?||Information could not be found as to the total number of copies sold as of October 2002. However, Timeline sold 55,000 copies in the first month of publication and 1,351,800 million* in its first 3 months.
* "The numbers generally reflect reports of copies shipped and billed in the calendar year 1999 and publishers were instructed to include returns through February 15, 2000."
|8. Sales by year?||Timeline sold 55,000 copies in the first month of publication and 1,351,800 million in its first 3 months. No other information about sales by year was found.
|9. Advertising copy:||In the November 1, 1999 issue of Publisher's weekly, there were numberous Timeline advertisments.
Transcription of the 2-page ad below:
1969:THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN 1975: THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY 1980: CONGO 1987: SPHERE | 1990: JURASSIC PARK 1992: RISING SUN 1994: DISCLOSURE 1995: THE LOST WORLD 1996: AIRFRAME | and now, on November 16, 1999, Knopf [publisher?s seal] will publish | Michael Crichton?s | Timeline | His greatest adventure novel since | Jurassic Park | 30 years after his memorable dbut with | The Andromeda Strain, he makes use of the ?Crichton effect?- | the unique amalgam of heartstopping ad- | venture and authentic cutting-edge science sci-| ence that has animated so many of his | acclaimed and unforgettable bestsellers. | And, as we watch, a group of histori- | ans sets out to enter, literally, into the | life of feudal France- in a | novel that enacts the human race can ever dream of under- | taking, and overturns our basic ideas | of what is possible. | Also to be published on November 16th | as a Random House AudioBook | and in a Large Print Edition from Random House.
Transcription of the large print ad in supplementary materials:
MICHAEL CRICHTON HAS NEVER BEEN BIIGGER. | [rule line] | TIMELINE | NOW IN LARGE PRINT! | [rule line] | Same great price, same great look | as the regular-sized editions! | [ begin boxed- in letters] | Our Large Print Books are published | in 16-point typeface like this one. | [ end boxed- in letters] | The average book is set in a 10-point type like this one. | Random House | Large Print | Ask your Random House Trade Sales Rep or contact customer service at 1-800-726-0600 | for special launch terms and promotional details.
Transcription of the audiobooks ad in supplementary materials:
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME | WITH MIC HAEL CRICHTON AND | RANDOM HOUSE AUDIOBOOKS. | [far left] | OVER | 1 MILLION | CRICHTON | AUDIOBOOKS | SOLD! | Sphere June 1988 | Jurassic Park November 1990 | Sphere (priceless) 1993 | Disclosure January 1994 | Andromeda Strain (priceless) August 1994 | The Lost World September 1995 | The Lost World (CD) | The Great Train Robbery September 1996 | Terminal Man September 1996 | Airframe November 1996 | Airframe (CD) | Airframe (UAB) | Congo (priceless) April 1998 | Eaters of the Dead March 1998 | Rising Sun (priceless) March 1999 | TIMELINE November 1999 | [far lower right] | A SUCCESSFUL | RELATIONSHIP | FOR ALL | TO HEAR. | RANDOM AUDIO BOOKS |
Timeline advertisments were also placed in the Fall 1999 Knopf catalogue, carrying the teaser: ?Coming in November 1999: MICHAEL CRICHTON?S new novel TIMELINE.?
PW: The High Concept of Micheal Crichton
|10. Image of sample advertisement||A210191021001133726.jpg|
|11. Other promotion?||On Timeline's debut, Micheal Crichton did a week's worth of media and bookstore appearence to publicize his new novel. Such appearences include a national TV satellite tour and the Today show.
Not much Timeline merchandise has been produced but much is expected after the release of Timeline, the movie, in April 2003. A vast amount of merchandise including action figures, clothing, and other collectables was produced after the release of Jurassic Park and the The Lost World, two of Crichton earlier books that were made into movies.
The only merchandise-related item that was found was wallpaper for a computer shown in supplementary materials.
PW: The High Concept of Micheal Crichton; PW: Paper Windfalls; www.dustfrog.com/~mbass/www.timelinemovie.com/index.php
|12. Performances in other media?||Timeline Audio Books & Computer Files-
Lang, Stephen. New York: Random House Audio, 1999 (cassette tape)
Lang, Stephen. New York: Random House Audio, 1999 (CD)
Lang, Stephen. New York: Random House Audio, 1999 (Computer file)
Lloyd, John Bedford. New York: Random House Audio, 1999 (cassette tape)
Lloyd, John Bedford. New York: Random House Audio, 1999 (CD)
Lloyd, John Bedford. New York: Random House Audio, 1999 (Computer file)
Timeline Pocket PC book-
Timeline is the first current bestseller to be offered for microsoft reader on the Pocket PC.
Here are some statement made about the Pocket PC book:
"'Over the years, both Michael Crichton and the creators of Star Trek have challenged us to imagine civilizations far beyond our own, so it is especially appropriate that today they are guiding us toward a futuristic technology,' said Dick Brass, vice president of technology development at Microsoft."
"The Pocket PC is a truly remarkable desvice that offers an unparalleled reading experience. It's fast; it's easy, and with Microsoft Reader software, it makes reading on-screen as pleasurable as reading on paper."
Timeline Microsoft E-book-
Microsoft E-book also uses Microsoft Reader and can be use with a Windows-based PC or laptop. The E-book can be purchased and downloaded through the internet.
Timeline,the computer Game-
Virus Corp. and Michael Crichton have joined forces in creating Timeline Studios with Crichton being the co-owner and chairman. The company designs computer games based on Crichton's books and is looking forward to a considerable profit due to the popularity of Crichton's movies like Jurassic Park, which ranks second in the box office with $920 million.
"You are part of a team of archeologists excavating an historic region of modern day France. Your team leader, Professor Johnston, has mysteriously disappeared leaving behind an unexpected videotape addressed to you with an imperative request. Now you must travel back to fourteenth century France to rescue him. And the adventure begins!"
The game is rated: E- for everyone
* Pentium II 266 MHz
* Direct 3D Hardware Accelerator with 8MB memory
minimum, 16 MB or higher preferred.
* 64 MB RAM required
* Operating System: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME
* CD-ROM: 4x or better
* Sound: DirectX 7 or higher compatible sound card
* Hard Drive: 600 MB required for standard installation
* DirectX 7 or higher required
"Timeline is based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name and was developed by Timeline Computer Entertainment. This cozy relationship doesn't bode well for the game. In fact, it's hard to understand what Timeline is supposed to be. It borrows good ideas from many different action games, but it isn't very fun. It's based on a lengthy page-turner; yet, it manages to include very little story of its own. And it is so short and easy that it seems like little more than a tutorial for a better game."
Timeline, the movie-
After some setbacks Timeline is scheduled to be released on April 11, 2003.
Cast: Paul Walker (Chris Hughes), Gerard Butler (Andre Marek), Billy Connolly (Professor Edward Johnston), Matt Craven (Kramer), Marton Csokas (Robert Dukere), Marie-Josee D'Amours, Ethan Embry (David Stern), Anna Friel (Lady Claire), David LaHaye, Neal McDonough, Frances O'Connor (Kate Erickson), Michael Sheen (Lord Oliver), Rossif Sutherland (Francois), David Thewlis (Robert Donniger), Lambert Wilson (Lord Arnaut)
Director: Richard Donner
Special Effects: Industrial Lights and Magic
Screenwriter: George Nolfi*
*Jeff Maguire had worked on an early draft.
http://www.bookbooters.com/b00793.asp; http://crichton.netfirms.com/games/timeline.html; http://www.upcomingmovies.com/timeline.html;
Strow, David. "Brand New Game for Crichton." The Business Journal. 4-16-1999
|13. Translations?||- Rescate en el Tiempo. Barcelona: Plaza & Janes
Editores, 2000 (Spanish)
- Linia Czasu. Warszawa: Amber, 1999 (Polish)
- Strela Vremeni. Moskva: EKSMO-Press, 2001 (Russian)
- Ai Confini del Tempo. Milano: Garzanti, 2000
- Kav--Zeman. Or Yehudah: hed Artsi, 2000 (Hebrew)
- T'aimnain. Soul T' ukpyolsi: Kimyongsa, 2000
- Linha do Tempo. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2000
- Prinsonniers du Temps. Paris: R.Laffont, 1999
- Eine Reise in die Mitte de Zeit. Munchen: Wilhelm
Goldmann, 2000,2002 (German)
- Shi Jian Xian. Taibeei Shi: Huang Guan Wen Hua,
- (no translation of title available). Bangkok: Namee Books,
* An ad of Garzanti Books is available in supplementary
World Cat; http://www.dcothai.com/books/timeline.htm
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||N/A|
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
Mike, Michael and the Popular
?A master of popular culture shares his ideas and ambitions,? reads the heading for Publisher?s Weekly September 1999 interview with Michael Crichton. Crichton has indeed made a big splash in Hollywood and the bestseller lists, alike, making him ?at 57 the most financially successful novelist of the day?; but how does Crichton?s literary career compare with those of his contemporaries such as the popular ?prince of purple prose? Mickey Spillane- creator of the infamous Mike Hammer series? Does Crichton really fit the category of popular literature in it?s fullest form being a product of the Spillane years, or is he an emergence of a new type of author, stylistically seeking to instructively inform and entertain the reader.
From the start of Spillane?s writing career to the present, he considers himself a writer. ?That?s all I am,? he states. ?Authors want their names down in history. I want to keep smoke coming out of the chimney.? Unlike Spillane, Michael Crichton?s literary career started when he was in Harvard Medical school, publishing his first book, Odds On, under the pseudonym John Lange. A few years after, he published his first bestseller The Andromeda Strain in 1969.
In a Publisher?s Weekly (PW) interview with Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief and president of Knopf, he states,?One of the things that is extraordinary about Michael as a writer is that he surprises continuously. Every book of his a surprise.? Indeed Crichton?s novels comprise a wide range of genres- action-adventure, thriller, mystery, science-fiction, or a mixture of all these. Recently in a Newsweek interview in November 1999, Crichton admits that the internal and external pressure to continue doing the same thing is a constant battle he never stops fighting. ?While he moves easily from fiction (Jurassic Park) to original screenplays (Twister) to television (ER),? Crichton refuses to ?create a franchise? like Mickey Spillane?s Mike Hammer, Tom Clancy?s Jack Ryan, and others. ?People like it,? Crichton states, ?You got rewarded and praised for it. So do it again! The same, only different; so it becomes something you have to fight.? And fight he does. Crichton is not a typical popular writer even though the masses absolutely love him; he tries to grab audiences while simultaneously experimenting himself, moving across mediums from the bestseller rack, to TV, to the big screen, changing his audience with every book.
Spillane believed himself to give the people what they wanted, so he did it again and again, inventing and writing Mike Hammer novels in an average of six weeks. To Spillane, good writing was what sold, what was popular at the time. Similarly, Crichton realizes what sells but he isn?t afraid to inform and instruct the reader about what they should hear, along with telling them what they want to hear. His scientific and anthropological background serve him well especially in his sci-fi thriller novels, and when not learned on a particular subject, Crichton does not merely ?invent? like Spillane, but rather does not hesitate to perform extensive research. ?It?s about time that people start to recognize that everything has a history; not to know...is to be struck by everything freshly, in a foolish way. And thus even though Crichton likes to play with his audience, never adhering to the same genre for too long even though he has recently gained acclaim with his science-fiction novels, there are some qualities in the Crichton reader that have never changed; the Crichton novel is meant to be read beneath the surface, thus its reader is a socially-aware and informed individual while seeking entertainment and escape.
An escape is exactly what Crichton gives us in his latest bestseller, Timeline, a novel set in the near future where ?quantum is king,? and in the dangerous and deadly fourteenth century France. In this novel, Crichton seems to have his work cut out for him; in the midst of making frequent trips to the MET* and joggling history books on feudal France, Crichton also manages to discuss developing quantum technologies in an interesting and entertaining way, better than any college chemistry or physics book. Usually Crichton?s novels always end with a lesson. In Timeline, the author discusses the topic of arrogance- ?modern arrogance and fourteenth century arrogance,? which according to Crichton leads to stasis and antiquation, revealing his solutions to keep moving intellectually under all costs. Crichton then certainly practices what he preaches, continuously trying to perfect his skills as an author, as the adventure continues on November 25, 2002 with the release of his new novel, Prey- exploring the emerging realms of distributed processing, biogenetics and nanotechnology.
Though Crichton is one of the most successful novelists, earning $65 million in 1998 according to Forbes, a sum large enough to set him for life, he keeps doing was he loves best- writing. Thus he differs from Spillane who quit writing in the 70s and 80s to promote Miller Lite Beer, considering merchandising a more important affair. ?I?m a merchandiser, not just a writer,? states Spillane. ?I stay just about in every avenue you can think of.? Although PW calls Crichton the Master of "the Popular," he prefers to view writing as a pursual of truth through the means of entertainment rather than "strictly business," making him a different type of popular writer. In fact Knopf sees him more family and less of a client, an oddity today when publishing houses are run by major corporations. Betty Fairchild, Knopf?s director of sales shares her relationship to Michael Crichton saying,?I feel like he?s part of our family. He?s changed less, as a person, than any author I can remember. Michael Crichton is still Michael Crichton and I think that?s pretty remarkable.?
Crichton, unlike Spillane, is not the typical popular writer that ?harvests? whatever the public demands solely for monetary gain, rather ?he?s a consummate pro, and he believes in his ideas,? says editor Bob Gottlieb. Thus with Crichton?s stylistically ?clean, uninflated prose? he moves across genres and mediums continuously renovating and improving his writing, taking the new meaning of popular authorship now into the brink of the twenty-first century.
*Metropolitian Museum of Art
Crichton Official Web Page.
Crimetime. ?Mickey Spillane Interview.? 10-28-02
Newsweek. "Moving Across Mediums." 11-22-99. pg 94
Publisher's Weekly. "The High Concept of Michael Crichton."11-1-99
Sunday Times.?The Tough Guy Vanishes.? 09-20-1998*
Yahoo. [keyword: Mickey Spillane]
Yahoo. [keyword: Mickey Spillane]
|Rrrrrrrr! roars the ravenous T-Rex from Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, a book which has interested and influenced millions, mainly Crichton's 1999 bestseller, Timeline as some critics believe. Timeline, regarded as Crichton's most enjoyable work since Jurassic Park by most critics, is rightfully so because "Timeline is Jurassic Park," states Daniel Mendelsohn from the NY Times Book Review. Timeline institutes "medieval rather than Cretaceous drag" with the "hot scientific theory" beginning quantum physics in time travel rather than gene sequencing. Even Crichton's message remains unchanged exclaims the Washington Post when "Just as in the spectacular adventures of Jurassic Park, the troubles in Timeline stem from not only avarice and hubris but also from a perceived inherent flaw in the very practice of science."
Other than having "gears and motors" identical to Jurassic Park, Timeline takes further criticism particularly for its lack of character development. In Timeline, as in his other novels, characters are often introduced and described briefly, leaving more room for Crichton to describe the inner workings of scientific phenomena, from black-holes to deadly viruses, rather than focusing on the "less interesting" psychological workings of the characters themselves. Much of Crichton's preference for the clarity of the scientific and historical are demonstrated Timeline's extensive bibliography consisting of 81 scholarly journals- as Mendelsohn comically points out, "Eighty-one more than there are at the back of any other blockbuster novel currently being read in airport waiting lounges."
Still, Crichton seems very aware of these harsh criticisms. In an interview from Publisher's Weekly, he states, "I'm particularly attracted to genres or kinds of writing that seem to be exhausted...where it seems as though everyone has done whatever there is to do and there's no point going back to the Victorian adventure novel [Great Train Robbery], or time travel [Timeline]." Crichton is not the first major author to depict time travel to medieval ages- Mark Twain did it in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. So even though Crichton is essentially following in the footsteps of the greats, he is willing to express the story in his own fashion- a habit which he regards as perfectly fine, contrary to many of his harsher critics.
However some critics can appreciate Crichton's Timeline for the novel that it truly aims to be- an action-packed sci-fi thriller with a neatly packed message of human demise though the pursuit of power. This is eloquently illustrated in a review by Entertainment Weekly's Tom De Haven:
"So it hardly matters -- it doesn't matter -- that the minimal plot keeps shrinking until it virtually disappears, or that the action finally becomes so frantic it's almost slapstick, or that none of the characters, whether hailing from the 14th or 20th century, display much personality. Because this is [Timeline] an unapologetic novel of high adventure, and a very good one at that."
In USA Today's review of Timeline, it states, "The author has an uncanny knack for coupling suspense with scientific concepts that captivate the public's imagination." And that it does. Even though Timeline was criticized for its diminishing plot and lack of character development, it was incredibly well received by the general public. For instance on the Barnes and Nobles website, there were 283 customer reviews by Timeline readers averaging 4-1/2 stars out of 5.
And although Mendelsohn earlier criticized Crichton for his superfluous bibliography, Paul Di Fillippo's article in the Washington Post gives Crichton credit for "buttressing the probability of his time-travel device and the accuracy of his period reconstructions with solid scientific and historical research," cleverly inserting information into dialogue and small omniscient passages. Even Mendelsohn himself can't fully dismiss the novel, admitting it was maniacally entertaining, gobbling it up in a single sitting.
Thus when reviewing Timeline the critics mostly get sanctioned into two distinct parties: really, really loving it, or dismissing it entirely. Much of the cause of the later seems to be that some critics envision Timeline as operating the role of the "great American novel" and then are disappointed instead of accepting it wholeheartedly as it really is- an entertaining novel of scientific and historical accuracy, swashbuckling adventure, with an insight into the human passions of power and invincibility.
Zaleski, Jeff. "High Concept of Michael Crichton." Publisher's
Weekly. November 1,1999
Di Filippo, Paul. "From Michael Crichton, the Pedestrian Guide to
Time Travel." Washington Post. November 29,1999. C5
Weeks, Linton. "King of Catastrophe." Washington Post. November
26, 1999. C1-2*
Barnes and Nobles website. [search: books, Timeline]
De Haven, Tom. "Timeline." Entertainment Weekly. November 26,1999
Mendelsohn, Daniel."Kings-Errant." New York Times Book Review. November 21,1999. 6
Gorman, Rochelle. "Crichton Mines History for a Tale of Time
Travel that doesn't Fly."Los Angeles Times. December 22,
Treu, Martin Allen."Timeline." eNewsViews.
|The Crichton Effect
??TIME-LINE. CAN YOU ALL SING WITH ME?? TIME-LINE,? [he] exclaims, and exhales, blinks [his] eyes, and the pats [his] forehead. [He] and [his] staff go into the audience with a stack of books under their arms and hand them out. People reach up to take theirs. But [Crichton] charms with [his] smile, reassuring them they have several weeks to do the reading.? No, best-selling author Michael Crichton has not taken over Oprah?s Book Club, but this renown novelist does have a similar ?Oprah-effect,? on his audiences, keeping him soaring high on the charts bestseller after bestseller. Timeline, Crichton?s 1999 bestseller, is yet another of his latest examples of how Crichton continues to captivate readers through his great status in the book industry compiling his almost formulaic creations with the ?popular? worries of the modern day.
Oprah?s influence on the publication industry is tremendous. ?On average, 13 million Americans watch Oprah?s Book Club, the segment of ?The Oprah Winfrey Show? devoted to novels that broadcast once a month.? Some instances of this Oprah- promoted success can be witnessed in books such as Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes, that went instantly from 10,000 to 760,000 in print; White Oleander jumped from 25,000 to 1 million; and Vinegar Hill by A.M. Ansay, jumped from from 18,000 copies to 875,000.
The whole Oprah system, from the book selection to the production and shipping, all revolve around secrecy. Oprah usually calls the author while her publicist contacts the publisher, who signs a confidentiality agreement to keep the selection a secret until the televised announcement. ?The publisher supplies 500 copies of the book for the studio audience and is asked to donate 10,000 more copies to libraries.? Then, the publisher solicits orders from the booksellers, roughly ordering the same amount for each hardcover and paperback copies, 650,000 and 800,000 respectively, since they have no knowledge of what they are ordering. The boxes arrive in stores the day the show is broadcast, all with the insider?s knowledge of the book selected limited to a ?handful of Oprah producers and a dozen people in the publishing house.? Oprah also regulates the positioning of the logos on the covers. After the month is up for a specific Oprah-selection, the logos come off and the publishers cannot even mention the book club in future advertisements.
Interestingly enough, part of Oprah?s strategy is to make her book club episodes resemble all her other shows. Oprah?s picks are dominantly composed of female heroines overcoming mainly the abuses of men. As Deborah Futter, an editor from Doubleday, elaborates, ?An Oprah-type novel is a moving, painful human story, not too hard to read, and and usually written by a woman.?
Just as Oprah adheres to a specific formula for her bookclub selection, Crichton also succumbs to following his formulaic adventure story in his latest bestseller, Timeline. When the critics reviewed Timeline, they were mainly debunked it for its comparatively strict adherence to the plot and theme discussed in Crichton?s Jurassic Park. Just as the multimillionaire in Jurassic Park, decides to construct a dino-theme park- built to a surprising reality through gene sequencing, Bob Doniger in Timeline uses the quantum technology to travel through time-space, gathering important information on how to revive several sites purchased around the world to their historically accurate settings. The main site where the Timeline unfolds is Castlegrad-La Roque, where a team of historians travel to 14th century France to rescue Professor Johnson, just as Dr.Grant and his team try to rescue the survivors in an effort to escape the Jurassic island.
Both theme park creators are motivated by greed, that subsequently leads to their downfall. Bob Doniger, in efforts to create a historically favorable theme park for the general public, is ready to undergo all measures, including the expenditure of human life, to feed is empire estimated of producing of over $2 billion annually per site. The creator Jurassic Park is also motivated by monetary gains to open up a dino-site to the public, a action that leads to his destruction as he is killed by ravenous dinosaurs. Doniger does not escape is fate either as he is transported back to feudal France at the end of the novel, just after the arrival of the Black Death, a plague that killed about one-third of Europe.
Even the overall theme of man attempting to override the laws of nature leads to dangerous consequences, is ever-present in both novels as the Jurassic Park creator attempts introducing dinosaurs to our modern-day world, while Doniger initiates time-travel taboo by sending several people back into dangerous times for site research. Such a time-character displacement, Crichton stresses inevitably leads to destruction especially when coupled with human greed and desire. Such desire for power and invicibiliy culminating in the tools of science and technology, whether it be gene sequencing or quantum mechanics, when used for evil purposes leads to dire consequences.
Although Oprah has enriches publishers, she declares her goal is grander, ?To get America reading again.? ?She wants to expose people to books that matter, books that in some way touch the self.? Thus through Oprah?s insistence of treating novels as ?springboards for self-reflection? she has made herself the most successful pitch person in the history of publishing.
However, Oprah is not the person that sees her novels as models of reflection, Crichton, particularly in his latest novel, Timeline, embarks on a journey of self-discovery, in which one can really see in later part of the novel.
On page 400, Doniger stresses that in every field, the dominant mode has become entertainment. ?But where will the mania for entertainment end?...what will [people] do when they get tired of theme parks and planned thrills? Sooner or later the artifice becomes too noticeable. They begin to realize that the amusement park really is a kind of jail, in which you pay to be an inmate. This artifice will drive them to seek authenticity...Where then will people turn to this rare and desirable experience of authenticity? They will turn to the past.?
Thus Doniger presents this persuasive argument to his investors, persuading them to buy a seat on the board estimated at $33 million. However, simultaneously, Crichton is trying to sell this novel to the reader on the basis of its historical authenticity. From the beginning, Crichton was meticulous about striving for historical accuracy, performing months of library research, condensed into eighty-one bibliographical references. Even though he was teased by many critics, including Daniel Mendelsohn, for his extensive list of sources considering Timeline is definitely fiction, Crichton felt that ?on writing about the Middle Ages, ?people don?t know what you are talking about,?? and so he set out to make a difference and to educate through his own journey. Not only visiting libraries and book stores, but also attending museums, especially the armory exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which inspired the classic Timeline cover, Crichton was determined to tell medieval times exactly as they were-even if he left the critics smirking. And thus the product of Crichton?s relentless few years search, Timeline is born, though criticized for it?s formulaic plot, becomes untouchable in terms of authenticity.
Oprah, though only one person, has done so easily what the book industry has failed to do: find new readers. Reports from Barnes & Nobles state that 75 percent of people who came in for an ?Oprah book? bought another title as well. And ?according to Rachel Jacobsohn, who runs a national information-exchange program for book members, there are around 500,000 book clubs in America today , twice as many as in 1994. Having between 5 million and 10 million members, Jacobsohn attributes this growth to the Oprah-effect.
Oprah is not the only one that has easily found her readers, Crichton has also found his niche in the public arena, a task which has contributed to him being one of the greatest best-selling authors of the later half of the 20th century. Such a accomplishment is what great writers strive for because once they have an audience, they are set for stardom. Such others of Crichton?s contemporaries, who have also found their niche are Stephen King, with his notable horror stories, and Tom Clancy, with his extensive law novels. However, unlike King, Clancy, or even the Oprah, the Crichton reader has a particular character. Ranging from young adult to elderly, the Crichton reader may either be male or female, and probably enjoys reading fairly easy prose, but with a wide variety of complicated technical and scientific phenomeon-which may be one of the reasons Crichton seems to appeal more to men than women. His novels deal mainly with the emerging difficulties of modern day from deadly viruses [Andromeda Strain],gene sequencing [Jurassic Park], sexual harassment [Disclosure], and presently quantum mechanics [Timeline].
In Timeline, Crichton starts out with a detailed summary of the birth of quantum physics to the present day challenges, educating his reader, who may already have some or no knowledge of the subject- in any case, Crichton attempts to explain it all clear and effectively, meddling scientific realities in fiction that make it seem almost believable. In truth, most of what makes Crichton a popular writer are the popular, modern subjects he deals with neatly explaining them into a neat and entertaining narrative. Because although there maybe other ?crichtonseque? writers out there, in actuality, no one does it better than Crichton especially with the clarity of technical prose.
Crichton indeed has created his own monopoly in both the book and movie industry (of his novels that are made into movies)- a monopoly that in effect will never run out of fuel as long as there are contemporary scientific and ethical problems to discuss.
Zaleski, Jeff. "High Concept of Michael Crichton." Publisher's Weekly. November 1,1999*
Di Filippo, Paul. "From Michael Crichton, the Pedestrian Guide to Time Travel."
Washington Post. November 29,1999. C5*
Weeks, Linton. "King of Catastrophe." Washington Post. November 26, 1999. C1-2*
Barnes and Nobles website. [search: books, Timeline]
De Haven, Tom. "Timeline." Entertainment Weekly. November 26, 1999
Mendelsohn, Daniel."Kings-Errant." New York Times Book Review. November 21,
Gorman, Rochelle. "Crichton Mines History for a Tale of Time Travel that doesn't Fly."
Los Angeles Times. December 22, 1999*
Treu, Martin Allen."Timeline." eNewsViews.
Saturday Review. November 1999
Life Magazine Archives
The Bookseller. November 1999
Max, D.T. ?The Oprah Effect.? NY Times. December 26, 1999*
Newsweek. "Moving Across Mediums." 11-22-99. pg 94*
Publisher's Weekly. "The High Concept of Michael Crichton."11-1-99*
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