According to an article on the internet, Michael Chrichton’s books are more popular than ever since the Jurassic Park author died in 2008. Actually, the article said Chrichton’s works are more popular than ever, citing the success of new Jurassic Park movies and the Westworld series on HBO, moving pictures apparently being a better indicator of success than novel sales.
A new Chrichton novel just released this month, a novel called Dragon Teeth that has some connection to the Jurassic Park narrative, if cover art is an indication. I started reading this new book yesterday. While reviews aren’t strong, I’m enjoying the opening chapters.
While reading, I couldn’t help but wonder who is really making money from Chrichton’s posthumous release. Is it the Chrichton family? Is it the publishing company? Logic would say it is both. Laziness prevents me from researching. One thing we know: Michael isn’t making a dime.
Why do so many artists sell more work after they’re dead? Is death just good publicity, or are consumers expecting to find some secret of life wrapped in the work of the deceased, as if the artist has had his or her final say and now we can all start to examine?
Are there any other forms of work that can earn money after the creator has died? I can’t think of any. Does that make art hold infinite value or is it just sad, because many writers can’t enjoy the fruits of their labor while they were alive?
What if you wrote a book that nobody liked or paid for while you lived, but then it became a massive success 100 years after your death and was lauded by critics and consumers alike; wouldn’t that upset your soul just a little?