Michael Crichton, genius author, and director passed away the day before yesterday. This post is in his memory.
I am a huge fan of Crichton's work. My introduction to Crichton was The Andromeda Strain, a book that was gifted to me sometimes in school. I was much too young to enjoy it at the time, and after a few pages, I put it back on the shelf and forgot all about it. During my 11th or 12th grade, I got my hands on Congo. When I was done with it, I went back and dug up The Andromeda Strain. That was it. I was hooked.
In those days, my principal complaint against authors was that each wrote around set plot lines. Robin Cook and John Grisham were so boring after some time! I found Michael Crichton to be refreshingly different! (Now I know better, Crichton writes around the idea of the collapse of a "perfect" system, at least in most cases.) Slowly and steadily I gobbled up his entire works. These were some of the earliest books I bought for myself. In fact, today I own every single fiction novel of his except for Congo (People, this is a hint. Gift it to me and make me happy)
Of all of his books, I have a clear favorite. It is The Great Train Robbery. The story is set in Victorian England and loosely based on the Great Gold Robbery of 1855. This book completely enthralled me, I have read it countless times. I don't have a clear second favorite among Crichton's books, because they are all so good, but a few notable mentions would be Rising Sun (a murder occurs during a business meeting, and Japanese and American culture clashes thereafter, technology: some awesome evidence tampering), Timeline (historians traveling to the Middle ages, technology: Quantum Physics), Sphere (alien craft discovered at the bottom of the ocean, technology: psychology, discussions of interaction with aliens), Prey (a swarm of artificially created nanobots evolves out of control and starts attacking humans, technology: nanotechnology, intelligence in distributed systems, Lamarckian Evolution), Eaters of the Dead (set in the 10th century, about a Muslim who travels with the Vikings on their adventures, technology: eaters_of_the_dead! What else do you want!) and of course Jurassic Park (dinosaurs coming back to life in a supposedly controlled environment, technology: genetics, chaos theory)
Crichton has often been criticized that he wrote with a film adaptation in mind. Indeed, at least 11 of his books have been made into films. Even so, Crichton is a real joy to read (especially if you're geeky or into sci-fi) and I would recommend him to all book lovers.