When a Book Finds You

IMHO, the late Michael Crichton was one of the greatest high-concept writers of all time. What ideas that man had, and how well he executed them! I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager and have read almost all of his books.

I did not grow up wealthy, so mostly I scrounged around buying used paperbacks or whatever else I could afford. Hardbacks were a rare treat, but Crichton was one of the few authors whose new hardbacks I would shell out my hard-earned paper-route money for. On the left you can see my collection of his earliest books. Little did I know back in the 1970s that I was amassing a collection of “first editions.”

What seemed like a fortune then seems like a bargain now. The cover price of The Great Train Robbery, c. 1975, was $7.95.  (Lately I’ve been noticing that more and more hardbacks are hovering around the $30 mark  – worth every penny, of course.)

Books like The Great Train Robbery and Congo (which is one of my all-time favorite books) showed that Crichton not only had great ideas; he also had fun with his plots. That fun diminished a little when he got into hardcore thrillers later in his career, but it came back in his posthumous book, Pirate Latitudes.

Anyway, all of this is background. The one Crichton book I never managed to get my hands on, and never read, was The Terminal Man (c. 1972). Now, 45 years later, The Terminal Man found me. I was rummaging around in a secondhand shop in Hawthorne, NJ (Then & Now Consignment), and there it was, crammed among a bunch of dusty books – for a mere $2. Even better, it’s a first printing. The jacket isn’t in great shape, but so what?

Call it Serendipity, call it Fate … but the Universe wants me to read The Terminal Man, and so I shall. I’m saving it for my next vacation.

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