Jurassic Park Characters
by Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park Characters

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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Although John Hammond is the instigator of the action of the novel, he is not by any means its only protagonist. Most of the action centers on the people who arrive on the island by his invitation for an inspection tour — like an audience for the advance showing of a film that still needs some editing before its general release to theaters. This group consists of Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Saltier, both flown in from the site of a dinosaur dig in the Montana badlands, as well as Donald Gennaro, corporate lawyer for InGen's investors, and Ian Malcolm, a consulting mathematician hired by Gennaro's firm to predict the feasibility of success in a project with so many unknowns. The last person in the group is not part of the inspection at all, but someone who joined them for the last leg of the journey to Isla Nubian Dennis Nedry, computer whiz who set up the control system for the park, which enables it to be run with a minimum of staff. Nedry is on site to work out the last of the "bugs" in the control system, but he also there as a kind of "agent of chaos," the character who sets the park on its course of final destruction.

A second contingent of characters arrive just after the experts. Tim and Lex (short for "Alexis") Murphy are John Hammond's grandchildren. Eleven-year-old Tim is a budding paleontologist, a real "dinosaur nut" and his younger sister, Lex, is a tomboy seldom far from her baseball glove and ball. Together with the experts, they form the first "public" that Ed Regis, an executive much more at home approving advertising copy than dealing with strange environments and exotic animals, has had to show around the park as the "on-site" company officer. Hammond himself has not spent much time on the island, spending most of his time on financial missions around the United States while his pet project slowly hatches under the direct supervision of others.

Grant and Sattler are awed by the dinosaurs, but unlike the typical tourists that InGen hopes to attract, they are analytical, experienced field scientists. Much to Hammond's annoyance they continue to ask questions. Ian Malcolm, expert in a new branch of mathematics that has had surprising success in creating accurate models of reality, applicable to many scientific fields, is particularly a thorn in Hammond's side. Unlike the traditional cloistered mathematician who might spend a professional lifetime working on an abstract system that might become useful outside of the field a century or more after it is invented, Ian Malcolm is very much interested in applying his abilities to immediate outside endeavors. Because of this he seems to know intuitively things about the park what others who have been working there don't see. When things begin to go wrong with the park in a big way, he is the only one who isn't surprised.

Dennis Nedry (acronym of "nerdy", as in "computer nerd") is paradoxically the most dangerous man on the island; he is also its biggest "couch potato". Hammond has stepped on many toes in his time, but when he stepped on Nedry's he unknowingly made a formidable enemy. At Hammond's insistence, Nedry designed the control systems for the park, putting almost every aspect, from communication lines to electrical security fences on the dinosaur pens, under the direction of a central computer. Hammond wanted to maximize profit by minimizing payroll costs, and substituting a computer brain for human intelligence seemed like a good idea at the time.

But he who writes the computer code under such a system rules the island, and greed extends to Nedry as well as Hammond. Extending his tight-fistedness, Hammond talked Nedry into a very disadvantageous contract, and to offset his monetary losses, Nedry has planned the theft of some dinosaur embryos. To cover his tracks, Nedry sets up a temporary glitch in the computer system, but the glitch becomes prolonged when Nedry's scheme goes awry, leaving everyone on the island at Nature's mercy at the height of her Fury.


(The entire section is 1,254 words.)