Jurassic Park

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

It all seemed so simple and innocuous in the beginning. Utilize the latest biogenetic technology to extract the DNA from fossil remains and replicate creatures long extinct. Then build a containment facility on an isolated island, add a hotel, and open the most original theme park in the world. Moreover, since dinosaurs are a “hot item” in terms of interest among those who might demand to visit such a location, why not clone dinosaurs? This is the premise of Michael Crichton’s latest attempt to induce nightmares among his vast reading public.

Needless to say, matters go seriously awry. The cloning process is successful in producing several species of dinosaurs, but they unexpectedly begin to reproduce. Moreover, human greed creates a situation in which the creatures from the past escape confinement and attack their creators. In fact, the world itself is placed in peril.

As in the case of his first work, THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, Crichton here combines state-of-the-art know-how with freewheeling speculation. In JURASSIC PARK, however, in contrast to THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, he also presents an exhaustive and persuasive indictment of modern science for its lack of an ethical foundation. Crichton does not compose simply to amaze and terrify his readers, but also to alert them to the possibilities inherent in scientific research and technological advancement. JURASSIC PARK demonstrates he is still capable of achieving his objective.

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

John Hammond, owner of a biotechnology firm called InGen, Inc., plans to open a theme park featuring living dinosaurs on Isla Nublar, off the west coast of Costa Rica. Dr. Henry Wu, a brilliant young geneticist who works for Hammond, has cloned the dinosaurs from ancient DNA. Hammonds investors are concerned about the safety of the park, so Hammond brings several consultants to the island. These include Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist; Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist; Donald Gennaro, legal counsel for InGen; and Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician who specializes in chaos theory. Hammond’s two grandchildren, Lex and Tim, are there as well, as is Dennis Nedry, a computer programmer who is debugging the computer system.

Malcolm predicts that the park will fail because chaos theory says that it is impossible to control any complex system. The park staff argue that they are on an island with elaborate fortifications and electric fences. A computer system controls security and tracks the number of dinosaurs and their locations. Wu explains that the dinosaurs can never reproduce because they are all females. Furthermore, they have been engineered with a lysine dependency; without supplemental lysine in their food, they will die.

The guests are sent on a tour of the island in electric cars guided by a cable in the road. When the group stops to examine a sick stegosaurus, Grant discovers an egg fragment, evidence that the dinosaurs are breeding. Wu...

(The entire section is 501 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Jurassic Park is a scientific thriller. This genre usually presents characters making their way through an extremely dangerous, often...

(The entire section is 342 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Crichton's penchant for picking up on and writing about the hot topics of the day shows an unusual sensitivity, not only on what is worrying...

(The entire section is 673 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The potential for the misuse of science by industry is the obvious concern in this futuristic environmentalist novel. What may happen when...

(The entire section is 996 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Crichton himself has stated that his work has been heavily influenced by the nineteenth-century novel Frankenstein (1818). Mary...

(The entire section is 224 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Crichton successfully repeated the theme-park-gone-mad motif of his movie "Westworld" in Jurassic Park, and in a rare move has written...

(The entire section is 140 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In 1993 Crichton and David Koepp adapted Jurassic Park into a screenplay for Universal Studios, directed by Steven Spielberg. Veteran...

(The entire section is 469 words.)