I read Michael Crichton’s Timeline back when I was in eighth or ninth grade. At the time, I was really into the quantum physics theory of parallel universes—to the extent that I plowed through some articles that were really beyond my comprehension. And by “plowed through,” I mean read slowly and repeatedly until I could force myself to understand them.
That’s not why I read Timeline. The reason had more to do with Jurassic Park. But I did read it, and near the beginning, I found an explanation of the parallel universe theory identical to a lot of what I’d learned elsewhere—only described with the skill of a writer writing for the masses rather than a scientist writing for scientists.
I’d heard, before then, that Michael Crichton really knew what he was talking about and did loads of research when he was writing a book, but it wasn’t until then that I could verify it for myself. I was impressed. I was more than impressed—I deeply and permanently respected him.
I learned my lesson the easy way, this time: always fact check, do your homework, and consult with experts. No one is perfect—but I will respect the heck out of you if you try.