Chrichton was a brand-name author, known for his stories of disaster and systematic breakdown, such as the rampant microbe of "The Andromeda Strain" or dinosaurs running amok in "Jurassic Park," one of his many books that became major Hollywood movies.
"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," his family said in a statement.
The 6-foot-9-inch author was also a screenwriter and filmmaker, earning producing and writing credits for the film versions of many of his titles. He also created the TV hospital series "ER" in 1994.
In recent years, he was the rare writer to get on well with President Bush, perhaps because of his skepticism about global warming, which Crichton addressed in the 2004 novel, "State of Favor." Crichton's views were strongly condemned by environmentalists, who alleged that the author was hurting efforts to pass legislation to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
A new novel by Crichton had been tentatively scheduled to come next month, but publisher HarperCollins said the book was postponed indefinitely because of his illness.
"While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us - and entertained us all while doing so - his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes," his family said.