Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life After Death


By Mark W. Danielson

Michael Crichton was one of my favorite authors, and his premature death came as a shock. I feared that his passing would also mean the end of his writing, but then his assistant discovered a completed manuscript and delivered it to a publisher. Released last year, Pirate Latitudes is a swashbuckling tale of old Jamaica where justice was doled out with enough latitude to allow privateer raids on treasure-filled galleons. Like so many of Crichton’s novels, Steven Spielberg is turning this one into a screenplay. So, while Michael passed away in November, 2008, he gave life to a host of new characters in what may be considered his parting gift. But is this novel what he really intended?

I say this because a couple of scenes raise eyebrows. Of course I cannot discuss them without ruining the story, but similar scenes have appeared in two other tales not written by this author. These scenes are so obvious that anyone would question why they were there. Worst of all, neither of them added anything to the story. In fact, they are so uncharacteristic of Crichton that I question whether a ghost writer added them to complete the manuscript. But if this truly is Crichton’s work, then did he intend to have Latitudes published, or was it a work in progress? Unfortunately, we will never know.

This posthumously published novel makes me wonder what to do about the novels I tucked away with no intention of publishing. They are stored on floppy discs and in dusty boxes awaiting a re-look, but since I prefer looking forward rather than back, chances are that will never happen. Considering this, should I even keep them when they are in such disarray? I certainly wouldn’t want them to be a reflection on my writing, or have someone else complete them after my death.

At the November 2009 Men of Mystery, Michael Connelly touched on this subject saying he has stopped writing or editing several novels because he “wasn’t feeling it”. Perhaps after reading Pirate Latitudes, Connelly might delete his unfinished files so they won’t be discovered and published like Crichton’s book was.

Although this topic raises questions about disposition, I enjoyed Pirate Latitudes, and am glad I was able to read Michael Crichton’s final chapter. At least in this instance, there is no doubt that life exists after death

5 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thanks, Mark, for bringing Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes to our attention. It's certainly one I'd like to read. I agree that it sounds as though someone finished the manuscript for him.

If I had any unpublished manuscripts, I'd place them in a taped box with large letters stating, "Do not publish." :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Good idea, Jean. I've been going through the boxes of "stuff" in my storage area trying to minimize what I'm keeping so it's a perfect opportunity to label them.

Ben Small said...

Mark, good comments.

About Jean's suggestion and your response, when you get finished organizing and labeling, why don't you drop over -- via parachute if necessary -- and help me organize and label my taxes...

:<)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Funny you should mention taxes, Ben. Along with the other "stuff", I've been shredding decades of tax returns and old checks. With the exception of a few statements, there's no reason to keep anything earlier than 2002.

I've also come across a few of those old manuscripts, too.

What was done said...

Here is a kind of life after death you can be sure of...
http://www.whatwasdone.com/Age.php?&Age=-1