by Dan Balow
It was the summer of 1970…I was dreading a long family car trip mainly because I was 14, I had braces on my teeth and was starting high school in the fall. I was required to be full of dread.
The big hits on pop radio that summer were “Mama Told Me Not to Come” (Three Dog Night), “Close to You” (Carpenters), “Everything is Beautiful” (Ray Stevens), “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles, “The Overture from Tommy” by the Assembled Multitude, “25 or 6 to 4″ by Chicago and “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. On and on the list goes…great stuff. I still have some of the 45’s. (If you don’t know what those are, tough luck)
But I had a long car trip ahead of me and I was miserable. I couldn’t even drive yet.
To pass the time on the trip, I went to the library and saw a book that caught my eye…relatively new from Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain. I checked it out and started to read. I couldn’t stop reading. I was transported to an underground virus containment facility deep in the desert and worked desperately to find a way to combat a subspace virus that threatened to destroy the earth.
It was the shortest car ride ever. I don’t even remember Nebraska. It was the first full-length novel I ever read.