Michael Crichton is a central influence on my own work. I loved stories (and movies in particular) from a very young age. But it was when I saw Jurassic Park in theaters at the age of 12 that my journey to becoming a storyteller began in earnest. Seeing the movie led to reading the book (which, side note, I first read in Portuguese while living in Brazil). A good friend encouraged me to read the book, so I bought a copy and fell in love with science fiction novels and began dreaming of writing my own. I wish I could call up that friend today and tell him what an awesome influence his suggestion had on me. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident on a Brazilian highway some years back.
While my tastes have evolved (I still love the Jurassic Park movie, but it's films like The Tree of Life and Gattaca and Children of Men that are my favorites these days and I would not consider Crichton the best author I've read) I do still enjoy reading Crichton's work. I find it incredibly unfortunate that he passed away at such a young age. I had looked forward to decades more of Crichton books, TV shows, and maybe even movies (he did direct the film HBO's Westworld is based on).