"The large male [gorilla] held my attention...He gave an impression of dignity and restrained power, of absolute certainty in his majestic appearance. I felt a desire to communicate with him...Never before had I had this feeling on meeting an animal. As we watched each other across the valley, I wondered if he recognized the kinship that bound us."
— George B. Schaller, quoted in the opening of Congo
Michael Crichton's African adventure novel follows a team of mercenaries, scientists, and a talking gorilla as they journey into the heart of the Congo to find the lost city of Zinj. The novel is a direct homage to H. Rider Haggard's classic adventure yarn, King Solomon's Mines, updated with a fascinating infusion of high-tech electronics and 21st century understanding of primates' capacity for language. As the team navigate each other's own conflicting motives for joining the expedition, they also encounter killer hippos, cannibals, volcanos, and potentially a new species of jungle gorilla. My favorite element was Amy, the talking gorilla, who uses sign language to access and share her earliest memories of the alleged jungle city's location. 🙈 [JG]
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) remains the only writer to have a #1 book, movie, and TV show in the same year in the USA. His novels include Sphere, The Lost World, Eaters of the Dead, State of Fear, and Dragon Teeth among others. Collectively his works have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, been translated into thirty-eight languages, and provided the basis for fifteen films. He was also the director of Westworld, The Great Train Robbery, and Looker. Steven Spielberg, who adapted Crichton's Jurassic Park and The Lost World to the silver screen, called the writer "The High King of High Concept" for his ability to create stories that grab an audience's imagination and keep them turning the page. Crichton appeared on The Charlie Rose Show several times in the '90s and early 2000s. I continue to enjoy those interviews as Crichton discusses his various interests in science, medicine, psychology, biology, and computers. Crichton strikes me as a deeply skeptical yet voraciously curious, private yet warm person.
"Books aren't written — they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it."
— Michael Crichton
— Michael Crichton
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