Last week, something extraordinary arrived in the mail.
Growing up, I always loved books. I’d tear through just about anything, and my Mom always took me to the library to gather up untold numbers of kids fiction. Shortly after grade school however, 8 year old Eric became obsessed with classic science fiction. I was particularly enthralled with Jules Vern’s adventure stories, especially Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Captain Nemo was brown!) and Journey to the Center of the Earth. H.G. Wells was also a fast favorite, with The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. Other authors who spun epic romantic adventures soon followed. Arthur Conan Doyle. Robert Louis Stevenson. Even Herman Melville. [Note: Those links will take you to free eBooks on Project Gutenberg]
And sometime during that era, when I first discovered these authors in the public library, I stumbled upon Jurassic Park.
Dinosaurs. Science. Action. Destruction. It was everything a wide eyed kid wanted and more. Thus began my love for an author named Michael Crichton, a man who would continue to capture my imagination long into my adulthood. The Andromeda Strain. The Terminal Man. Congo. Sphere. Prey. I have fond memories of every book I’ve ever read of his. Reading Eaters of the Dead before the Thirteenth Warrior came out, and then watching that movie a half dozen times in the theater. Reading Timeline on a beach and finding myself moved to tears at the end. Asking my parents for State of Fear for Christmas. Picking up my copy of Next at a flea market here in Philly, and finishing it in a few days.
When Crichton passed away in 2008, I was crushed. So crushed, that I canceled class that day at Holy Family University (they didn’t like that, I don’t teach there anymore), and watched a handful of his films back to back the following day. This was an author that truly made me fall in love with modern books. He inspired me, made me want to some day be a decent writer (I’m still trying). Now, I’d never meet the guy. Shake his hand, tell him what his books did for me growing up. It weighed on me quite a bit. Read more