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I was surprised by how many of the weird things ......came form the book
August 26, 2013 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Tricia's Obligatory Art Blog presents " Reading "Jurassic Park" in 2013 is Weird As Hell "
posted by The Whelk (73 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Knowing Unix isn't dated, it's perennial.
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on August 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Holy shit, this links to a blog post about The Double Disappearance of Walter Fozbek! I remember seeing the cartoon adaptation, and for years I've wondered what it was!
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:07 PM on August 26, 2013


Yeah, as a moderate to supernerd, I take issue with:
"the smartest thing Spielberg did was age Lex several years and give her some useful (if instantly dated) skills. "

What does the author think is running the internet?
posted by mulligan at 5:11 PM on August 26, 2013 [10 favorites]


I actually forget that Crichton is given to Card style rants about environmentalism. No idea if he's started making blog posts about Al Gore's Hitler Youth taking over the Goverment yet.
posted by Artw at 5:12 PM on August 26, 2013


No idea if he's started making blog posts about Al Gore's Hitler Youth taking over the Goverment yet.

If he did, I'd read them religiously, seeing as how Crichton's been dead since 2008.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:13 PM on August 26, 2013 [21 favorites]


isn't MCrichton dead?
posted by supermedusa at 5:13 PM on August 26, 2013


jinx!
posted by supermedusa at 5:14 PM on August 26, 2013


That'll make that kind of thing tricky, I'll admit.
posted by Artw at 5:15 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, I know what my December science fiction book club is reading this year...
posted by sleeping bear at 5:16 PM on August 26, 2013


Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite books. I was seven when the movie came out, and seven or eight when I read the book (given to me by my dad, who was concerned that I would come home and watch Jurassic Park every day when I got home from school). There is a lot of ridiculous in it, but in my mind Jurassic Park can do no wrong.

As I got older, and learned more things about dinosaurs, I've always rationalized the inaccurate dinosauring in my head as creator error. Like, ok, the scientists managed to clone a t-rex, let's say that happened. But shit comes out all feathery. Does the scientist think "oh hey, t-rexes must have had feathers!" or instead "welp, fucked that one up, let's try again with some frog DNA."

Also, for those who haven't read it, at the end of the book our heroes all get trapped in a giant raptor nest, which would have been fun to have in the movie.
posted by phunniemee at 5:16 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember reading Lost World and thinking it was an anti science piece of crap.
posted by kmz at 5:18 PM on August 26, 2013


Palentologists like to change up dinosaurs every few years just to fuck with us.
posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on August 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


That'll make that kind of thing tricky, I'll admit

Life finds a way!
posted by yoink at 5:19 PM on August 26, 2013 [31 favorites]


That's about all that really need be said. Reading the original, printed page Michael Crichton novel Jurassic Park from 1990 in the year of our lord 2013 is weird as hell.


I thought that using the phrase "in the year of our lord" in 2013 was weird as hell.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:21 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Knowing Unix isn't dated, it's perennial.

Sudo science!
posted by hal9k at 5:22 PM on August 26, 2013 [30 favorites]


Crichton always was more than a bit of a hack but JP was one of his better works, with the idea of us standing on the shoulders of giants and not even understanding the power we have inherited from them, a theme pursued in the movie as well as in the book. LW abandoned and even reversed that message, to the point that I don't even consider there to be such a thing as a Jurassic Park franchise. Crichton just wrote another book about modern dinosaurs.

I really liked JP the novel and thought JP the movie a pretty well done distillation much better than the usual Hollywoodization. Had only Crichton left it at that and found another idea. But then again, he was kind of running out of ideas at that point.
posted by localroger at 5:24 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember reading Lost World and thinking it was an anti science piece of crap.

All of Crichton's books are kind of like that. They're all pretty formulaic. (AND I LOVE THEM ANYWAY AND WILL FIGHT YOU.) I actually came up with a Crichton-book-o-matic guideline a while back. This is the plot of every Michael Crichton book ever:
Oh no! Something weird has happened in a remote location! Better send in a team of experts! This team will consist of:

1. An eager, yet altogether naive, academic.
2. Someone who relies totally on computers and technology. (This is usually the person who gets everyone into the cockamamie scheme in the first place.)
3. A rugged field expert who relies on wit and brawn more than book-learning.
4. A child (or chidren or gorilla).
5. A team of expendable lackies; usually people employed by either 2 or 3.
6. A mathematician. S/he will generally be disliked, but will be against the whole operation from the start.

One of these will be a woman, described as almost pretty, if not for her masculine features.

Experts must be sent in immediately, due to impending legal problems, business competition, or governmental coverup. Don't disclose all the dangers involved.

There will be a terrrible storm or natural disaster.

Someone will break the rules or become violent.

Once everyone has been brought down by poorly wielded science and hubris, the heroes will find some extremely convenient means of emergency escape.

At which point the book ends abruptly.
posted by phunniemee at 5:26 PM on August 26, 2013 [62 favorites]


I thought the idea you could go into raptor nests and COUNT the eggshells so you can predict how many dinosaurs are around for you to track down was a little...unscientific.
posted by Brainy at 5:27 PM on August 26, 2013


/Remembers Congo.

Oh fuck.
posted by Artw at 5:28 PM on August 26, 2013


I thought the idea you could go into raptor nests and COUNT the eggshells so you can predict how many dinosaurs are around for you to track down was a little...unscientific.

Sounds like a thing only a scientist would do, actually.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:38 PM on August 26, 2013


Al Gore was surely referring to Crichton here:

"The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, "Well, I read a science fiction novel that told me it's not a problem." If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action."
posted by thelonius at 5:38 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Phunniemee: exactly, except you missed "One of the team has a medical condition that he/she is concealing that will ultimately cause danger to others."
posted by mmoncur at 5:42 PM on August 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Something weird has happened in a remote location

/rolls dice.

Yay! I got robot Yul Brynner.
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on August 26, 2013 [15 favorites]


Hack or not, I thoroughly enjoyed Sphere and JP. It's fiction, not published in a science journal.
posted by cj_ at 5:47 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And there are no less than twelve scenes in which an academic patiently explains a plot-related scientific concept to another character.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:48 PM on August 26, 2013


Crichton was a bit weak on speculative fiction. If you want some spooky fictional bioengineering coming to pass, just read Atwood's stuff. It is a bit creepy just how on the money she has been the last decade...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:50 PM on August 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dr. Grant is totally Dr. Horner. There is, like, no question. "Egg Hill"? C'mon.

I didn't know it was possible to not know that.
posted by BrashTech at 5:54 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went and saw this movie when it came out with a friend of mine (and his girlfriend; they split up shortly afterwards and he hasn't a meaningful relationship SINCE) who is quite linear in terms of how he thinks (he probably never read dinosaur books as a kid in the early 80's), and refused to believe the Velociraptors could hunt in packs and communicate and display intelligence.

"Dinosaurs were big, plodding things, they were totally dumb. This movie is totally dumb."

It's bugged me for twenty years now.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:55 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Velociraptors are basucally just angry turkeys, these days.
posted by Artw at 6:00 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]



1. An eager, yet altogether naive, academic.
2. Someone who relies totally on computers and technology. (This is usually the person who gets everyone into the cockamamie scheme in the first place.)
3. A rugged field expert who relies on wit and brawn more than book-learning.
4. A child (or chidren or gorilla).
5. A team of expendable lackies; usually people employed by either 2 or 3.
6. A mathematician. S/he will generally be disliked, but will be against the whole operation from the start.


This mostly works for 13th Warrior.
posted by curious nu at 6:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is a bit creepy just how on the money [Margaret Atwood] has been the last decade...

Seconded, though IMHO she has a really tin ear for Marketing Language, which made some of Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood kind of hard to read, and which may be the only thing Crichton was ever better than her at.

I'm currently rereading The Handmaid's Tale and some of her futurespeak portmanteaux in it ("prayvaganza" just stuck out at me when I was reading last night) are kind of clunkers too. But anyway, Margaret Atwood is awesome, and Crichton deserves to be cloned in a frog egg and brought back to life just to be nut-punched for State of Fear.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:11 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure that predicting 70s technology in 2003 really counts for that much.
posted by Artw at 6:22 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


ZOMG, the late eighties! She says that like she thinks it was some dark pre-scientific age.
posted by octothorpe at 6:24 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


My statement of purpose for grad school mentioned Jurassic Park. All you people moaning about it can pry my love of Jurassic Park out of my cold dead hands. Or something
posted by hoyland at 6:30 PM on August 26, 2013


What....exactly, was your purpose?
posted by thelonius at 6:35 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Evil theme parks.
posted by Artw at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


It was a line about wanting to be a mathematician because I read Jurassic Park too many times as a child. I was incapable of not first giving a flippant answer to the why I wanted to go to grad school.
posted by hoyland at 6:41 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always thought that has a strange sound, "Statement of Purpose". Who talks like that? Who has mission statements except ridiculous companies, and people applying to grad school?
posted by thelonius at 6:46 PM on August 26, 2013


This book blew my mind when I read it in 1991. I thought it was just great. I was also 15, but I really, really, really don't want to taint the still-fantastic memory I have of it by re-reading it now. No sir. Not gonna do it.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:48 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Chaos theory as and handwave for everything is pretty 1993 as well. Mostly people have settled on "quantum" since then.
posted by Artw at 6:59 PM on August 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mostly people have settled on "quantum" since then.

Oh for that you'll want Timeline.
posted by phunniemee at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought Timeline was pretty awful, but then I read Airframe.

I don't read anymore.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 8:07 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought Timeline was pretty awful, but then I read Airframe.

I don't read anymore.


Then you're doing fine with your strategy for Congo!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:16 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought science was really cool, as a kid, and I read a bunch of Crichton, and then it finally sunk in that Crichton didn't think science was really cool so he was writing stories set in a world of science, he thought science was really terrifying and wouldn't all of his characters have been so much happier if they'd just stayed home and spent more time working on their lawns.

He didn't think much ahead of his time because thinking ahead is a thing the bad guys do.

I don't read Crichton anymore.
posted by Sequence at 8:49 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was an undergrad in a hyper-competitive engineering school, and my favorite course in all of my four years was "Science Fiction: A Critical Appreciation". Man, that course saved my life in my second year (and I say this with very little hyperbole - it may have literally saved my sanity).

I did my book report for that course on "Jurassic Park", just before the rumblings about the big budget Hollywood movie.

If you have bad things to say about that book, I will fight you. And I'm never going to read it again. And yes, it's been downhill since then - I didn't read Timeline, and I have only the vaguest idea that Lost World was a thing.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:59 PM on August 26, 2013


Hack or not, I thoroughly enjoyed Sphere and JP. It's fiction, not published in a science journal.--cj_

I've enjoyed a number of his books. And he's gone now, so we can foget about his many talks against global warming theories, which were not meant to be fiction.
posted by eye of newt at 9:08 PM on August 26, 2013


Velociraptors are basically just angry turkeys, these days.

Turkeys are already angry turkeys.
posted by webmutant at 9:30 PM on August 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


Clunky or not, JP is pretty much a single-volume master class in how to structure a (very loosely) science-based page-turner.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:25 PM on August 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked Jurassic Park a lot, and much of Crichton's other work as well, but, for some inexplicable reason, my favorite was Travels. It's a memoir, loosely structured around first his globe-spanning vacations and then his seriously woo New-Age adventures in spoon-bending and aura-reading. I find it ridiculously entertaining.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:30 PM on August 26, 2013


restless_nomad, I liked Travels too. But I can't get over that he went to (somewhere in Southeast Asia... Burma?) and when a friend of his went to go have sex with child prostitutes and invited Crichton along, Crichton didn't do anything. That is weird and wrong and made me lose a lot of respect for him.

You might also like his other non-fiction work, Five Patients.
posted by Sleeper at 1:39 AM on August 27, 2013


I loved Sphere when I first read it. I remember finding the pacing slow, which was fitting as they were underwater, and for some reason it made an impression. Not that I'm willing to test my theory by rereading it.

I did re-watch Jurassic Park with a friend and it holds up well. It's surprising how different it feels from the current crop of blockbusters - 20 years might as well have been an eternity.
posted by ersatz at 3:21 AM on August 27, 2013


The worst part of Jurassic Park: the Book was how the scieeence is dooomed guy kept going on about how chaos theory predicted you can't control dinosaurs, man, but all the carnage was caused by entirely predictable fuckups.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:45 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, can somebody explain to me how come, just before the WHOAFUCKINDINOSAURS moment, Laura Dern finds a plant that's been extinct since the Cretaceous period? Did mosquitoes eat it then get trapped in amber?

I'm not even going to address the issue of Richard Attenborough and his Amazing Vanishing Scoatish Accent.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 4:21 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's right. You leave Dinosaur Santa alone.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:51 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


The worst part of Jurassic Park: the Book was how the scieeence is dooomed guy kept going on about how chaos theory predicted you can't control dinosaurs, man, but all the carnage was caused by entirely predictable fuckups.

NEWMAN!
posted by Artw at 5:55 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jurassic Park was a bloody ace book... one of the best sf thrillers I've ever read. And yes don't worry doubters it does pretty much still hold up (well it did for me).

As for the others I've read most are terrible-tastic... the racist Japanese one is just bonkers. I did like how the big bad in Prey is defeated by formation dancing (well Crichton says 'flocking behaviour' or something but I when I see a duck I call it a duck) though it points deducted for me spotting the big twist on page 3 or something. The time travel one is flat out hilarious (the comedy jousting is pure gold)... I particularly like how the villain has a) a time machine b) the worlds biggest computer by several orders of magnitude to run said time machine plus several other gadgets but who's ambitions for the use of said power is to build a more realistic theme park.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:57 AM on August 27, 2013


How does line dancing defeat nanotech?
posted by Artw at 6:10 AM on August 27, 2013


How does line dancing defeat nanotech?

You'll have to read the book to find out! (aka I can't remember but it totally did... something about about moving in a co-ordinated group fools the swarms of nanotech into thinking you're not people. I think it made even less sense in the book)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:25 AM on August 27, 2013


Jurassic Park's dinosaurs: out of time?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:26 AM on August 27, 2013


Okay, can somebody explain to me how come, just before the WHOAFUCKINDINOSAURS moment, Laura Dern finds a plant that's been extinct since the Cretaceous period? Did mosquitoes eat it then get trapped in amber?

Pollen or spores trapped in amber along with the bugs they got dino DNA from? I don't recall a clear explanation ever being given, just some junk about how they planted something that releases toxic spores near a pool (ie: where it could make people sick) and that this was another sign of the InGen people being reckless.
posted by sparkletone at 6:52 AM on August 27, 2013


My paperback of Jurassic Park is a tattered mess of worn paper and tape by now. I still want to try cinnamon ice cream. JP is one of my comfort reads when I'm sick, usually in combo with Raptor Red by Robert Bakker, still one of the best POV xenofiction stories I've read. Utahraptors playing in the snow!

One interesting thing about Jurassic Park (at least the movie) that I repost from the TVtropes Genre Killer: "The Jurassic Park films are an example of one series' smash success making it impossible for subsequent films to live up to it. No one has bothered to make a serious dinosaur movie since, and all films and video games that have happened to feature dinosaurs, have, without exception, contain conscious nods to the franchise. Even the American Godzilla (1998) film riffed on it in trailers, and featured suspiciously velociraptor-like chase scenes with baby Godzillas."

Scientific discoveries about dinosaurs have advanced considerably since 1994, so a new dinosaur movie could look and feel very different than JP. But what's the point when JP is so iconic? It'll be interesting to see how much Pixar's The Good Dinosaur riffs off Jurassic Park and how much it's its own beast.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:02 AM on August 27, 2013


Jurassic Park's dinosaurs: out of time?

I took a class called Dinosaur Science in college, taught by a pretty famous paleontologist, and honestly just being in that classroom (which was the professor's workshop/storage with some chairs and tables in it) was more of a Jurassic Park experience than a lot of museums.

Paul had majored in art in undergrad, and was big on making paleontology accessible to kids, so spent a lot of time working up models of his finds.

I spent an entire quarter sitting next to this happy little guy. This dude was perched on the shelf behind me.

So, yeah, obviously don't believe everything you see in movies, but what we know about dinosaur morphology is being constantly revised. It doesn't mean that reality can't look badass and fun, too.
posted by phunniemee at 7:10 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been tempted to re-read Rising Sun. I read it before I knew much about Japanese-American relations, and it was pretty obviously racist to me.

I know a lot more about such things now, and I bet I could come up with a pretty kick-ass drinking game for it. I have a feeling that it won't be as fun as I imagine it to be, though.
posted by Quonab at 8:59 AM on August 27, 2013


I've been tempted to re-read Rising Sun. I read it before I knew much about Japanese-American relations, and it was pretty obviously racist to me.

The sad/hilarious thing is that I remember being 13ish and thinking how cool it was that Crichton was so up on current events and was writing these great books to fill us in on the big issues of the day! the Japanese menace! Sexual harassment! Genetic engineering! Um, gorillas!?
posted by COBRA! at 9:02 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Congo wasn't about gorillas. It was about lasers. And Tim Curry.
posted by phunniemee at 9:05 AM on August 27, 2013


I've always thought that has a strange sound, "Statement of Purpose". Who talks like that? Who has mission statements except ridiculous companies, and people applying to grad school?

They're pointless for grad school, anyway, since the real answer is the same for everybody: "I don't know what I'm doing with my life and I don't want to think about it for 2-7 years."
posted by Rangeboy at 9:08 AM on August 27, 2013


Left to their own devices the Gorillas would have built a laser themepark.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on August 27, 2013


You might also like his other non-fiction work, Five Patients.

I vaguely remember it. It didn't hit that gonzo note in the same way. (When I was a kid, if I liked an author I read everything they ever wrote. So I'm pretty sure I read all of Crichton's published work through Timeline, which blew, and was also late enough that I could break myself free of the compulsion.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:27 AM on August 27, 2013


I will never ever be able to pass up a Jurassic Park thread without posting this.
posted by bibliogrrl at 4:10 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the plot of every Michael Crichton book ever:

Oh no! Something weird has happened in a remote location! Better send in a team of experts! This team will consist of:


That's the plot of the terrible ones. He does have one good book: The Great Train Robbery. Made into a movie with Sean Connery!

This book and movie are among my favorites, but they apparently only exist in my own personal universe since nobody else has ever heard of them.
posted by DU at 4:50 AM on August 29, 2013


The movie, The Great Train Robbery is, well, great. It's much better than anything else he directed.
posted by octothorpe at 6:47 AM on August 29, 2013


I remember the Great Train Robbery film to be pretty entertaining... there's a great escape from prison sequence. Only thing I can remember from the book is that it takes out time during an action sequence to basically say 'well this bit might seem a bit illogical/overly risk move for character x but basically this is what Victorians thought about physics/life in general' for quite a while
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:20 AM on August 29, 2013


Yeah, I remember the historical asides as being some of the best bits, actually. However, on my second reading (as a teen) I noticed that one of the experts quoted was one "Michel Creighton" which steered me away from the sociological claims are more towards the story.

The prison escape is good, but the acquisition of the safe keys is even better.
posted by DU at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2013


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