Jurassic Park (novel)
First edition cover
|Cover artist||Chip Kidd|
Techno-thriller, Horror fiction
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|Publication date||November 1990|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 20|
|LC Classification||PS3553.R48 J87 1990|
|Followed by||Rising Sun|
Jurassic Park is a science fiction novel written by Michael Crichton. Often considered a cautionary tale on unconsidered biological tinkering in the same spirit as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it uses the metaphor of the collapse of an amusement park showcasing genetically recreated dinosaurs to illustrate the mathematical concept of chaos theory and its philosophical implications. In 1993, Steven Spielberg adapted the book into the blockbuster film Jurassic Park. The book's sequel, The Lost World (1995), was also adapted by Spielberg into a film in 1997. A third film directed by Joe Johnston and released in 2001, drew several elements, themes, and scenes from both books that were ultimately not utilized in either of the previous films, such as the aviary and boat scenes.
The narrative begins in August 1989 by slowly tying together a series of incidents involving strange animal attacks in Costa Rica and on fictional Isla Nublar, the main setting for the story. One of the species, a strange, small, lizard-like creature with three toes (thought at the time to be a new species of basilisk lizard), is identified later as a Procompsognathus. Paleontologist Alan Grant and his paleobotanist graduate student, Ellie Sattler, are abruptly whisked away by billionaire John Hammond — founder and chief executive officer of International Genetic Technologies, or InGen — for a weekend visit to a "biological preserve" he has established on a remote island off the coast of Costa Rica.
Upon arrival, the preserve is revealed to be Jurassic Park, a theme park showcasing cloned dinosaurs. The animals have been recreated using damaged dinosaur DNA found in blood fossilized inside of mosquitoes (which were preserved in amber.) Gaps in the genetic code have been filled in with reptilian, avian, or amphibian DNA. To control the population, all specimens on the island are lysine-deficient females. Hammond proudly touts InGen's advances in genetic engineering and shows his guests through the island's vast array of automated systems.
Recent events in the park have spooked Hammond's investors. To placate them, Hammond means for Grant and Sattler to act as fresh consultants. They stand in counterbalance to a well-known mathematician and chaos theorist, Ian Malcolm, and a lawyer representing the investors, Donald Gennaro. Both are pessimistic about the park's prospects. Malcolm, having been consulted before the park's creation, is especially emphatic in his prediction that the park will collapse, as it is an unsustainable simple structure bluntly forced upon a complex system.
Countering Malcolm's dire predictions with youthful energy, Hammond groups the consultants with his grandchildren, Tim and Alexis "Lex" Murphy. While touring the park with the children, Grant finds a Velociraptor eggshell, which seems to prove Malcolm's earlier assertion that the dinosaurs have been breeding against the geneticists' design. Malcolm suggests a flaw in their method of analyzing dinosaur populations, in that motion detectors were set to search only for the expected number of creatures in the park and not for any higher number. The park's controllers are reluctant to admit that the park has long been operating beyond their constraints. Malcolm also points out the height distribution of the Procompsognathi forms a Gaussian distribution, the curve of a breeding population, rather than the distinctive pattern that a population reared in batches ought to display.
In the midst of this, the chief programmer of Jurassic Park's controlling software, Dennis Nedry, attempts corporate espionage for Lewis Dodgson, a geneticist and agent of InGen's archrival, Biosyn. By activating a backdoor he wrote into the park's computer system, Nedry manages to shut down its security systems and quickly steal frozen embryos, two for each of the park's fifteen species. He then attempts to smuggle them out to a contact waiting at an auxiliary dock deep in the park. However, during a sudden tropical storm, he exits his stolen vehicle to get his bearings and is killed by a Dilophosaurus. Without Nedry to reactivate the park's security, the electrified fences remain off and dinosaurs escape. The adult Tyrannosaurus Rex attacks the guests on tour, while the juvenile Rex attacks public relations manager Ed Regis, killing him. In the aftermath, Grant and the children become lost in the park.
Malcolm is gravely injured during the incident, but is soon found by Gennaro and park game warden Robert Muldoon and spends the remainder of the novel slowly dying as, between lucid lectures and morphine-induced rants, he tries to help those in the main compound understand their predicament and survive.
The park's upper management — engineer and park supervisor John Arnold, chief geneticist Henry Wu, Muldoon, and Hammond — struggle to return power to the park, while the veterinarian, Dr. Harding, takes care of the injured Malcolm. For a time they manage to get the park largely back in order, restoring the computer system by shutting down and restarting the power and resetting the system. Unfortunately, a series of errors on their part soon plunge the park into greater chaos. During their time trying to restore the park to working order, they fail to notice that the system has been running on auxiliary power since the restart; this power soon runs out, shutting the park down a second time. Furthermore, since the auxiliary generators did not produce enough electricity to power the fences, the fences were not reactivated when the system was reset, meaning all the fences — including the holding pen containing the park's Velociraptors, quarantined due to their intelligence and aggression — had been offline the whole time. Escaping their enclosure, the Velociraptors kill Wu and Arnold and injure Muldoon, Gennaro, and Harding. Meanwhile, Grant and the children slowly make their way back to the Visitor Center by rafting down the jungle river, carrying news that several young Velociraptors, bred and raised in the island's wilds, were on board the Anne B, the island's supply ship, when it departed for the mainland.
While Ellie distracts the Velociraptors, Grant manages to turn the park's main power back on. After escaping from several Velociraptors, Grant, Gennaro, Tim, and Lex are able to make it to the control room, where Tim is able to contact the Anne B and tell them to return to the island. The survivors are then able to organize themselves and eventually save their own lives. Word soon reaches them that the crew of the Anne B has discovered and killed the Velociraptor stowaways.
Gennaro tries to order the island destroyed as a dangerous asset, but Grant rejects his authority, claiming that even though they cannot control the island, they have a responsibility to understand just what happened and how many dinosaurs have already escaped to the mainland. Grant, Ellie, and Muldoon set out into the park to find the wild Velociraptor nests and compare hatched eggs with the island's revised population tally. Cautious in this pursuit, they emerge unharmed. Meanwhile, Hammond, taking a walk around the park and contemplating making a park improving on his previous mistakes, hears the T-Rex roar and falls down a hill where he is eaten by a pack of Procompsognathi. Concerning the dinosaurs' breeding, it is eventually revealed that using frog DNA to fill gaps in the dinosaurs' genetic code enabled a measure of dichogamy, in which some of the female animals changed into males in response to the all-female environment.
In the conclusion, before boarding helicopters, the group tell the Costa Rican air force that the dinosaurs had been killing people. The air force then say that the island is dangerous and releases napalm over the island, destroying the island and the dinosaurs. It is implied that Malcolm dies. Survivors of the incident are indefinitely detained by the United States and Costa Rican governments. Weeks later, Grant is visited by Dr. Martin Guitierrez, an American doctor who lives in Costa Rica and has found a Procompsognathus corpse. Guitierrez informs Grant that an unknown pack of animals has been migrating through the Costa Rican jungle, eating lysine-rich crops and chickens. He also informs Grant that none of them, with the possible exception of Tim and Lex, are going to leave any time soon.
Prehistoric animals featured in the novel
- Apatosaurus (some versions of the novel replace this dinosaur with Camarasaurus)
- Microceratops (some versions of the novel replace this dinosaur with Callovosaurus)
The book became a bestseller and Michael Crichton's signature novel. It also received favorable reviews by critics. The novel became even more famous following the release of the film, which has grossed more than US$1 billion.
- Carnosaur, a 1984 novel with similar themes
- The Lost World, a sequel novel by Michael Crichton
- Westworld, Crichton's earlier 1973 film that is also about a malfunctioning theme park
- Means approximately "Clouded Island" or "Obscured Island" in Spanish.
- Jurassic Park (1993). Box Office Mojo (1993-09-24). Retrieved on 2013-09-17.
- DeSalle, Rob & Lindley, David (1997). The Science of Jurassic Park and The Lost World. Or How to Build a Dinosaur. New York: BasicBooks. ISBN 0-465-07379-4.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Jurassic Park (novel)|
- Isla Nublar novel map
- Official website
- Jurassic Park at the Internet Movie Database
- Jurassic Park at the official Michael Crichton website
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