I think I read one of Michael Crichton's pseudonymous thrillers before I got around to his better-known work under his own name. It was the paperback original "Binary" (or as I pronounced it in my 13-year-old brain "bin-arry"), about a plot to release nerve gas at the Republican National Convention. (I guess that would be bad.) Anyway, it impressed the hell out of the teenaged me.
Throughout high school, I picked up "The Andromeda Strain," "Eaters of the Dead" and "The Great Train Robbery." I saw "Coma" and "Westworld" at the movies. "Sphere" was among my first assignments as a professional reviewer, and I was amused to see that the paperback edition prominently featured cherry-picked adjectives from my less-than-glowing critique.
Like a lot of folks, I was startled to learn on Wednesday that Crichton had died of cancer at age 66. He'll be missed by a lot of readers. I'm glad I was given the opportunity to write an appreciation of him for the Sunday Chronicle.