Michael Crichton, the best-selling author of technological thrillers like “The Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park” who died of cancer in November, left behind at least one finished novel and about one-third of a second. Both will be released over the next year and a half, his publisher said.
HarperCollins, Mr. Crichton’s publisher for his previous three books, will release “Pirate Latitudes,” an adventure story set in Jamaica in the 17th century, on Nov. 24. The company also plans to publish a technological thriller in the fall of 2010, a novel that Mr. Crichton was working on when he died. Jonathan Burnham, publisher of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, said Mr. Crichton evidently wrote “Pirate Latitudes” at the same time that he wrote “Next,” his last published novel.
The new novel, discovered by Mr. Crichton’s assistant in the writer’s computer files after his death, features a pirate named Hunter and the governor of Jamaica, and their plan to raid a Spanish treasure galleon. “It’s eminently and deeply and thoroughly researched,” Mr. Burnham said. “It’s packed through with great detail about navigation and how pirates operated, and links between the New World and the Caribbean and Spain.”
The novel represents a departure from Mr. Crichton’s longtime fictional preoccupation with the moral and social ramifications of science and technology. But Mr. Burnham pointed out that “Pirate Latitudes” also harks back to the kind of historical yarn that Mr. Crichton wrote in the “The Great Train Robbery,” first published in 1975. Mr. Burnham said that the book needed little editing and that Harper planned a first printing of 1 million copies.
At the time of Mr. Crichton’s death he was under contract for the second of a two-book deal that began with “Next.” He had begun that second novel, a technological thriller, but was only about a third of the way through. Mr. Burnham said that the publisher would work with Lynn Nesbit, Mr. Crichton’s agent of 40 years, and his estate to select a co-writer who would finish the book, working from Mr. Crichton’s notes.
“We want a high-level thriller writer, somebody who understands Michael’s work,” Mr. Burnham said. “From what I gather, there are notes and indications of which direction the novel was going, so the writer has material to work from apart from the actual material that was finished.”
Neither Mr. Burnham nor Ms. Nesbit has seen the unfinished novel. Ms. Nesbit said that Mr. Crichton was “the most private of all authors that I have ever met in my life,” and that he never showed his agent or his editor any material before he had a complete draft. She said that other than the general category of technological thriller, she had no idea what the incomplete novel was about.
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