Michael Crichton died of cancer last week. He was 66. It has been a long time since I’ve read a Crichton novel, but that has little or no bearing on how much his novels affected me over my life.

I think I was in 6th grade when I read Jurassic Park (incidentally, the same version as the picture to the left). It was the first, and I think may be the only novel that I read cover to cover in one day. I remember that Saturday. I had gotten the book from the library on friday and started reading on a rainy Saturday morning. I finished the book that night. Wow what a ride!

His books were always a wonderful blend of imagination, suspense and science. A doctor by training, as a kid I always felt like his books were within the realms of possibility and thus stretched your imagination to further ask questions about what could be scientifically possible. His books were fantasy in the real world so that rather than escaping to another world, he brought the fantastic to you in a way that you could almost believe was possible.

I don’t care what anyone says about the quality of his writing or his views of environmentalism, I will always remember him as a writer who was able to keep a twelve year old boy enthralled in a book for an entire saturday. After reading Jurassic Park, I proceeded to read most of his most well known novels, Andromeda Strain, The Lost World, Sphere, Congo, etc. And while none of his works quite captured me like Jurassic Park I never read a Crichton book that failed to entertain.

As someone who considers himself a life-long habitutal reader, I know that I owe a lot of that to the thrilling novels I read as a sixth grader. For that reason I will always think warmly of Michael Crichton, for that reason I will always be in his debt. RIP Michael Chrichton.

(for a great little article on his life see the NY Times article)

I consider myself a ‘fan’ of very few things; one of those things, however, is Terry Brooks. I was introduced to Terry Brooks when I was twelve and my dad gave me a copy of The Sword of Shannara. My life has never been the same since. I was always something of a reader growing up, but I trace my real love for reading to that book, no question. I guess it is this history that has really made me a ‘fan’ of Terry Brooks. And I do consider myself a ‘fan’ in the true sense of the word. There are other authors that I enjoy, there may even be other authors I enjoy more than Brooks but I am only truly a ‘fan’ of Brooks.

Let me explain my ‘fandom.’ Not only do I own a signed copy of Brooks’ original trilogy (purchased when I met him in person at a book signing, though I already owned copies of all three of the books separately), but I own two copies of the Sword of Shannara with the original cover (and am always on the lookout for more, in case my copies get worn out), and he is probably the only author that I always purchase as soon as his books come out, in HARDBACK! Some have criticized Brooks’ books for being childish or knock-offs of Tolkien but the fact of the matter is this: he got me into reading and his books have never failed to entertain me.

So, the fall is approaching (he’s a pretty regular publisher) and Brooks is out with the conclusion to his Genesis of Shannara trilogy so I am off to Barnes and Noble to pay way too much for an over-priced book that I will probably only read once. But such is the price of fandom.