For all the great science fiction out there it is very easy to forget one of the masters, in my opinion. I am not sure when or how I came across this one but I figured it could not be bad as it was written by Crichton. He is one of the most famous and often forgotten sifi writers of all time.
Crichton is truly a remarkable talent as he has worked on almost every medium imaginable during his writing career. He is the only person to have a number 1 book, movie, and television show. He has also sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. I have only read two books by him this one, and one about dinosaurs and some sort of theme park, something like that, I forget the name of it… (that last sentence was a joke in case you were wondering.) The crazy thing about his career is that a vast number of his novels were made into movies, which is almost unheard of. I think most authors would be blown away of one or maybe two of their novels being turned into movies, by my count he had 6 of his novels turned into movies, that is insane! One of those went on to become one of the greatest movies ever made, the one with the dinosaurs, I sure wish I could remember the name of it. Sadly in 2008 Michael Crichton passed away after his battle with cancer. I can remember hearing of his passing and was shocked as he was so young, 66 when he died. I think writers and audiences everywhere lost something special that day. Crichton in my opinion is one of the legendary writers of our generation. The only other writer that is even close in that same class is Stephen King.
This one starts out in the New Mexico desert where a seemingly wounded man is wondering aimlessly. A young couple sees him and realizes he is in trouble. It appears he has been wondering for days and is dressed rather ridiculously. They take him to a nearby hospital were the man dies. The only thing to identify the body is a name tag from a local tech company (ITC). They are notified and quickly claim and dispose of the body so as not to arouse suspension. Meanwhile in France a team of archeologists studying a medieval site lead by Dr. Johnston become concerned by the company that is funding their dig. Johnston soon flies to New Mexico to meet with the company and try to figure out what is going on. A few days later while at the dig site a few of the researchers find a note hand written in English that claims to be from Dr. Johnston asking for help. From there the researchers then fly to New Mexico to meet with the head of ITC, a man named Robert Doniger. What he tells the group is only the beginning of their ordeal, and from there the wild exciting adventure takes off.
This is a neat story that I think most sifi fans will like. For some reason when you think of sifi you never really think of Crichton, yet he has some of the best stories out there. There is a bit of history in this one as well so it is a nice mix of genres although, I do not think it is historically accurate. I could be wrong on that but I honestly don’t know. Still interesting to get a glimpse of medieval life.
I cannot really describe the genre of the story. Yes, at first glance it is a sifi story, but when you really start to analyze the book it has a much different feel to it than just a normal sifi novel. I think the technology in the story is well explained but not over analyzed. Meaning Crichton meticulously weaves the story explaining how the time travel technology works but at the end of the day that is not the focal point of the story, not even close. The story is focused on so many other things that you forget that it is a sifi novel, which makes for a very interesting and entertaining read.
I would also argue that this is Crichton’s writing style. He does the same thing in that other book of his with the mosquitoes and the dinosaur DNA, gosh I can’t think of the name of that one. He explains how the technology could work and makes it all sound very plausible without going into very specific details. Basically offers just enough to get the reader to believe it and does it such a way that while reading you find yourself thinking what can’t we do this, we should be able to do this with our technology. It is a great style and one that is exciting and won’t let the reader get hung up on the detail. Plus I don’t think many geneticists or quantum physicists read his books, but who knows.
He does a fantastic job of mixing so many elements to appeal to a wider audience. As I mentioned this one is classified as sifi, but if you just take that technology sifi aspect out you still have a fantastic story. My point is that the story is so well put together that taking away what seems to be a very important focal point of the story, without that you still have a fantastic suspenseful story that can stand on its own. That is pretty amazing and shows what an incredible writer he is.
This could also be a reason why some people do not like Crichton. His books are great stories no one can deny that, but I remember reading something a while back and someone was saying just how inaccurate all his stories were in terms of the technology explained in them. While this was never an issue for me I can see where some fans want something more real and want to read the science behind it.
Another thing that I did not like as much about the story was all the characters. This is a pet peeve of mine. Too many characters have always driven me crazy. I think it is confusing and convoluted to introduce a lot of characters to a story. There are quite a few in this story and I felt it was very hard to keep track of them. This may not be an issue for some but it always bothers me.
Overall this is a good not great read. If you have never read any of Crichton’s works before this would not be a bad starting point. He has so many good books out there and many are on my list to read at some point. I would also like to mention that there is a movie out there based on this book staring the late Paul Walker. I have seen bits and pieces of it and don’t think it got great reviews. I recommend sticking to the book if you are interested in the story. As a side note I bought a copy of this book at a used book store a few years back and would you believe it that it was a first edition. Pretty cool, I wonder if it is worth anything? Anyways, Crichton is a literary master and has something for everyone in his stories that is what makes them so great. Check this one out if you get a chance.
Thanks for all the fantastic stories Mr. Crichton.