Like many readers, I came to Michael Crichton through Jurassic Park, although I read the book well before I saw the movie. His books are good, fun reads, the epitome of the techno-thriller. But some of his later ones, especially Next and Prey, sometimes felt to me a little like J-Park-lite clones written by other authors trying to emulate Crichton.
Micro, Crichton's last novel - posthumously finished by Richard Preston (writer of The Hot Zone and brother of Douglas Preston) - started off feeling very similar, as it perfunctorily introduced a group of characters who had a mixture of skills that would undoubtedly turn out to be useful as the plot played out. Shrunk to tiny size (about 1-inch high) it seemed clear they'd fight some bugs and avoid being stepped on to re-enlarge themselves 300 pages later, with a bit of a don't mess with nature you don't understand message.
As I read, I started feeling uninvolved. Cardboard characters doing dumb things don't do a lot for me.
Last week I wrote about the business of publishing, thinking about why it makes sense for publishers to move to an electronic format.
This time, I've been thinking about the consumer's point of view.
Depending on how you look at it, I'm either an e-book pioneer or a complete n00b.
I downloaded my first two e-books in 2000 - Stephen King's Riding the Bullet short story, followed by his (still incomplete) serial novel The Plant. In 2004, I downloaded Matthew Reilly's free serial novel Hover Car Racer.
But I read them sitting at my desk, on a PC, looking at a 15" monitor. I even printed out The Plant and still have it sitting in a manila folder on a shelf! Not exactly portable reading!