With his next book, Timeline, due out later this year from Knopf, popular author Michael Crichton has announced his entry into the high-tech world of interactive software through the formation of a computer gaming company called Timeline Studios.

David Alan Smith, president and CEO of Timeline, told PW that the company is looking at all of Crichton's content as a basis for creating "quality computer games." Smith explained that since Crichton has been playing computer games for nearly 20 years, he fully understands how to translate his ideas into the interactive medium. Smith has some prior experience with top-tier authors who've segued into computer games: he helped launch Red Storm Entertainment, Tom Clancy's computer gaming company. "One of the assets both Michael and Tom bring to this medium is that, as writers, they create worlds," he observed, "and they're both very comfortable crossing media." Red Storm and Timeline are both co-owned by Virtus Corporation, but Smith stressed that the companies are "very distinct, separate organizations."

Meanwhile, at last week's Electronic Entertainment Expo held in Los Angeles, Timeline announced a major "publishing and investment deal" with Eidos Interactive, best known for its top-selling Tomb Raider/Lara Croft franchise. Smith called Eidos "the best fit for us. They are extremely interested in building franchise content around Michael's books and movies." Based on the number of people who have contacted him since the Eidos deal was announced, Smith predicted that more authors will be stepping up to the interactive plate before long.