Good morning bookies! Stand by for news.
*** By now I guess you know that Michael Crichton has died from cancer at age 66. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller really liked Crichton, although I never met him. His first book, A Case of Need, was a pro-abortion novel that wasn’t particularly well written and was published under a pseudonym, Jeffery Hudson, because Crichton feared retaliation in the days before Roe v. Wade. He continued with the political thread running through his books for his entire life, and while one could argue that his stance in A Case of Need took the liberal viewpoint, in fact he displayed a life-long libertarian streak, much like Robert Heinlein did, in social and scientific matters. Crichton wasn’t afraid to scoff at what he considered bad science, State of Fear being the prime example by skewering the global warming crowd.
Of course, he is best known for Jurassic Park and The Lost World, two of the best SFF monsters novels ever written. Congo was also a terrific novel, if you haven’t read it you should find a copy now. Sphere, on the other hand, was hackneyed and stale, something long-time SFF fans would have found way too familiar and not very well written. Rising Sun might appear dated by today’s computer magic, but at the time of publication if was fabulous and thrilling.
Crichton was a favorite and will be missed.
*** BBG has been to Dublin, Ireland, twice, and was just looking for an excuse to go back again. (And when exactly did BBG develop this annoying habit of referring to himself in the third person?) It seems that a rare text of the 1535 edition of Cicero’s On Old Age has been found at the King’s Inn Law Library in Dublin. Cicero, of course, was the Roman philosopher who writings have survived the ages. Just to see such a book would be quite a thrill and, while in Dublin, BBG could also take another, longer look at The Book of Kells.
*** Okay, I’m really stretching the whole book-related thing here, but this did appear in the PNAS Journal of November 3. It seems that the burial sight of a 12,000 year old shaman has been discovered in Northern Israel. The linked article can supply the details but I find this absolutely fascinating. Put into context, we think of Ancient Egypt as being almost impossibly long ago, its founding being somewhere beyond 5,000 years in the past, but if the dating here is correct then this grave was already 7,000 years old when Egypt was founded. Staggering.
*** With Christmas coming gift ideas are sure to be important, especially this year. Aside from the sorts of things that I would think make great gifts, nice copies of signed books from a favorite author, or a book that you might not buy for yourself but would really like to own, there is also a new book for married folks that might… err…ahem…well, you read it.
*** Lastly, I can only read and sigh and wish I could be there. The Miami Book Fair opens this weekend. The linked article has a great picture of one of the truly nice guys in the world of crime fiction, Jim Hall. I’ve met Jim once but feel like I’ve known him for much longer. He goes back to the old AOL Hardboiled board (which is still around but nearly abandoned now) in the rollicking days when the internet was young and blogs didn’t exist. If you haven’t read his Thorn books you’ve missed on the great series out there. (And if you start, be aware, it took three or four books for Just Jim to hit his stride)