Consciously or unconsciously, Crichton seems to have devoted much of his career to creating a vast patchwork quilt of intertextual reconstructions of classic science-fiction stories.
Crichton’s dedication to “real” science is his most obvious and recurrent theme.
And when he brings them together he does so with a pleased "aha!
" "I do love coincidences of this sort," he says, calling them "God's gift to an essayist." Yes, but only the sort of essayist who revels in collage. Gould's more rarefied excursions convey no feeling beyond a too-whimsical curiosity.
Sometimes this device works magnificently, as in his moving essay "Cordelia's Dilemma," which moves from the silence of Lear's daughter to a defense of the importance of negative results in research.
When it doesn't work, the link feels strained. Gould has a curious notion that essays are effective to the degree that they successfully yoke disparate elements together.
His most powerful essays, however, extend from a deeper core: outrage (concerning a great scientist who became a shill for the tobacco industry), grief and guilt (over the connection between Nazism and Darwinism), loss (the nerdy child's passion for dusty museums).
"Cordelia's Dilemma" derives its resonance from issues of autobiographical centrality: Mr.
Nearly all of our life so passes nearly all the time (and thank goodness, lest we all be psychological basket cases).
Shall we not find fascination in the earth's daily doings?