“I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London
Michael Crichton’s death this past week has had me thinking back quite a bit to the fiction of my youth.
Dr. Crichton was definitely a huge influence who sent me in the direction of a lot of forward thinking, highly-educated, science fiction writers of the era, such as Asimov, Heinlein, and Frank Herbert. I respected them all … In fact I think just about every science fiction fan of my generation could roll off the Three Laws of Robotics faster than they could remember the first seven words of the Declaration of Independence … But these guys weren’t the most profound, or lasting, of my early literary influences.
That distinction belonged to a writer named Jean Shepherd.
Who? Yeah, I thought so … A lot of folks won’t immediately recognize the name, but you probably know his work. In fact, with the Holidays rolling around the corner, no doubt we’ll be seeing the screen realization of his most famous work, A Christmas Story, make its rounds on one of the cable networks ere long.