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Jurassic Park Author Michael Crichton Dies

Bestselling author Michael Crichton, who wrote thrillers JURASSIC PARK, TIMELINE and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, has died at age 66, reports the ASSOCIATED PRESS.

His family said he succumbed Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 66 after a private battle against cancer.

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," his family said in a statement.

"While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us -- and entertained us all while doing so -- his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes."

His stories inspired some Hollywood hits, including JURASSIC PARK, RISING SUN and DISCLOSURE. He wrote and directed himself THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY and co-wrote TWISTER.

He also created the long running acclaimed medical drama ER in 1994, which is signing off this year. Known best possibly for his DNA dinosaur saga JURASSIC PARK, he has a dino named after him: Crichton's ankylosaur.

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of JURASSIC PARK" said Steven Speilberg, who directed JURASSIC PARK, in a statement. :He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the earth. In the early days, Michael had just sold the ANDROMEDA STRAIN to Robert Wise at Universal and I had recently signed on as a contract TV director there. My first assignment was to show Michael Crichton around the Universal lot. We became friends and professionally JURASSIC PARK, ER, and TWISTER followed. Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place."

ER Exec producer John Wells called the author, "an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful."

"No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation."

His 2004 novel STATE OF FEAR addressed his skepticism about global warming, earning him a trip to the White House to meet with President Bush and strong condemnation from environmentalists trying to get legislation passed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

At 6 feet 9 inches, Crichton came ready to battle his adversaries, speaking to few scientists about his questions. "If we put everything in the hands of experts and if we say that as intelligent outsiders, we are not qualified to look over the shoulder of anybody, then we're in some kind of really weird world," he said in a 2004 interview with AP.

Crichton's new novel was set to come out next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.