Jurassic Park came out when I was twelve years old. For as long as I can remember, I loved the hell out of dinosaurs—I wrote a book called The Disastrous Dino War in elementary school—so you can imagine how much I loved that movie. I saw it with my family in a San Francisco movie theater, having smuggled in Burger King chicken sandwiches to eat for lunch. Some memories stick with you. Surely, Spielberg was responsible for a lot of the magic of the movie and its impact on popular culture.
But it was Crichton's idea. My uncle from Mississippi bought me the book before I left San Francisco.
I finished it in two days. I read it all the way on the plane home, and, since the next day we were driving around D/FW social visiting, I read it all day in the car or van. It was the fastest I'd ever read a book before, I think, especially one that long. I was twelve, you know? It was one of those Reading Memories, where the experience of reading the book makes you even more fond of the book itself. I know I've re-read the book at least once, but that first read is still memorable.
I became a huge Crichton fan. I loved Sphere, Congo, Disclosure, The Andromeda Strain, and The Lost World. I didn't read him after high school, but he was one of my favorite authors.
And he inspired me. At the time, my family was pushing me to be a doctor and informing me that my writing could be a nice hobby but I shouldn't "waste my mind" with it. Michael Crichton went to medical school and was all science-y and still became a famous author. He gave me hope that I, too, could follow a medical or science path, do my medical or science thing, but still be a writer.
His books are still out there. His stories, and his story. I hope twelve-year-olds pick them up and fall even more in love with dinosaurs and dream of becoming famous writers for generations to come.