Essays on Nature and Man by Michael CrichtonMichael Crichton's Essays on Nature and Man is considered by many to be the definitive work of science fiction. In fact, since his death in 2020, it has become a modern classic, and some readers compare his work to that of H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and Carl Sagan.
If you're familiar with Crichton's 'The Andromeda Strain'Out of the Black', you've likely seen a page where he describes an alien life form, a predator that hunts wild geese and herded cattle - and that's just one example. Crichton's writing is interesting and well-written, but he also made his own rules for his essay topics, which often reflect his personality. To be precise, his essay topics may be summarized as follows:
You'll find that the vast majority of the essays in Michael Crichton's book are about animals. The interesting thing about animals is that their behavior varies greatly between species. It's hard to write an essay about a certain animal without mentioning something that it does differently from another, which is part of what makes animals interesting to read about.
As is the case with many other essay topics, Crichton focuses on the different adaptations some animals have to survive. He often deals with animals in opposition to humans. The most famous example is the 'herd of domesticated geese' who try to kill the 'wild geese' who are trying to get away.
Crichton is not the only author who has written about animals in these essay topics. In fact, if you Google a certain animal, you'll find several dozen examples. A lot of writers combine animals in essays, such as the essays of anthropologist E. O. Wilson, who writes about chimpanzees, the whale who lives on the East Coast of Africa, and the water buffalo who inhabit North America. Other authors have written about the impact animals have on the planet, such as Theodore Gray who wrote about the Arctic, the bears of Alaska, and the birds who migrate through the same region.
A very interesting concept that Crichton incorporated into his essay topics is communication. He suggests that there are two kinds of animals that communicate - the same kind, and the different kind. Each type of animal will communicate differently based on its ecology, diet, environment, and social status.
Different types of animals can share similar characteristics or behaviors. Crichton, however, argues that the way animals live has changed over time, so that there are two new categories - those that act in similar ways, and those that are different, even though they are the same species. This isn't to say that animals who look alike don't share the same values, although some animals are not alike at all, such as domesticated animals.
Another interesting aspect of Crichton's essay topics is the fact that each chapter starts off with a chapter from his imagination, like a story. The stories have been broken down into different parts and then are connected using the essay topics he provides. Many authors use this format, so it's not unusual to find an essay about whales where whales are in the first section, then again in the second, and so on.