Saturday, May 28, 2011
Author: Michael Crichton
I read this when I was a kid. And as much as I've always loved the film, I thought the book was better. Even at the tender age of 11 or 12, whenever it was that I read it. I picked it up again, thinking that, as an adult, I'd be able to better understand some of the technical jargon that Crichton laces throughout the novel.
Pretty sure I was right about that.
Don't get me wrong. I was a pretty bright kid. Back then I had a basic understanding of what DNA was and what it meant to clone something. After all, clones are a sci-fi staple, and being the son of Lee Peck, I was raised on science fiction.
Michael Crichton does go into a lot of technical detail about the biological technology involved in genetics, as well as the complicated computer systems that are used in the cloning process and used in operating the prehistoric zoo. Not having a Ph.D. in any of these related fields, some of it was still a little over my head. But, like 11- or 12-year-old me, I got the basic gist of it.
There are a lot of little differences between the book and the movie. These are differences that are easy to forget about when you only read the book once 20 years ago and have seen the movie a few dozen times. For example, in the movie, Dr. Alan Grant is portrayed as a guy that really doesn't like kids very much. In the book, Grant loves kids because they tend to have an insatiable fascination with dinosaurs. Another difference, he and Dr. Ellie Sattler do not have a romantic relationship. She's his student, nothing more. In fact, he mentions to the kids while they're trapped in the park that Ellie is engaged to a nice doctor in the Chicago area.
Another change is in the character of John Hammond, the financier of Jurassic Park. In the movie he's portrayed as an eccentric little man who simply wants to entertain the world with his biological creations. Sure, the novel version of the old man wants to entertain the world, but his driving force seems to be dollar signs. And he really doesn't care much about the consequences of his actions. In the film he survives to regret the creation of Jurassic Park. In the book, he dies still imagining that next time they'll be able to get it right.
There are other changes that I won't go into here. After all, it's a really good book and if you haven't read it, it's worth picking up, even 20 years later. Sure, some of the references are a little outdated since the majority of the story takes place in 1989. But still, we're dealing with extinct animals. So it's kind of a timeless tale. And I always find it interesting to read Ian Malcolm's take on things. He has a few nice little explanations about the dangers inherent in attempting manipulate the natural order of things.
I think it's amazing that Malcolm clearly died in the novel (they mention the Costa Rican government not allowing the survivors to bury him yet), but he makes a comeback in the sequel novel (and movie) The Lost World. I never read that book, but I always thought the movie was something of a disappointment. The book is on my list though. I'll get to it soon.