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Literature / Jurassic Park

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“The history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.” - Ian Malcolm

The book that started the Jurassic Park franchise. Written by Michael Crichton, it was first published in 1990.

Scientists discover the ability to bring extinct animals back to life via a complex cloning process. To make a profit off this technology, the InGen company decides to build a theme park featuring living dinosaurs on an island off Costa Rica.

This in itself would not be such a bad idea, except the organizers rush to get it open, cut corners everywhere to save money, build it on a remote island, and have almost no security personnel, deciding to automate the whole thing with unreliable computers — even refusing to tell the software designer what the system is for.

Naturally, everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

The book is followed by The Lost World.


This book provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The first act of the book is the mystery of a bout of animal attacks that have been plaguing the Costa Rica countryside later discovered to have been a bunch of Compys that sneaked out of the island. Once the narrative switches to the other characters (Grant, Sattler, Gennaro and Nedry), this story arc (and the Decoy Protagonist looking into it) completely disappears from the book until the epilogue, where Gutierrez arrives to the hotel Grant and the rest of the survivors are staying at to talk to Grant about the possibility that some Velociraptors had managed to escape the island's destruction and vanish into the Costa Rican jungle.
    • One that gets abandoned mid-chapter: After power is restored to the park and the raptor attack is fought off, it looks like the next act is going to be trying to determine how many animals were hatched in the wild. However, halfway through counting the eggs in the first raptor nest, the wild raptors go dashing out to the beach, where Grant figures out they want to migrate. Then the choppers appear, everyone is rescued, cue epilogue.
  • Abridged for Children: There was a junior edition of Jurassic Park when the film came out, but it was based on the film rather than the original novel.
  • Adult Fear: The scene where Lex nearly drowns while Tim is Forced to Watch.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Dennis Nedry's death. Probably not tragic, but you'll probably feel sorry for him considering how horrifically painful it was.
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  • The Alcoholic: Muldoon gets progressively drunk throughout the novel. It doesn't hinder him though.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The adult Tyrannosaur is last seen falling unconscious after the waterfall incident two-thirds of the way through the book; what became of it after that is anyone’s guess. Hammond expresses a fear that it could drown given that it passed out in a river, but while Muldoon asserts they will move it, the opportunity never comes since that’s when they notice the raptors have escaped. The only other time it gets a reference is much later when the population count comes up late in the book and only one Tyrannosaur is detected, rather than two, and the juvenile is seen on the security cameras out in the park so it clearly is being detected. Of course it’s a moot point anyway since the place got firebombed not long after and if the adult wasn’t dead already, it sure was after that.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • It's unlikely that mosquito digestive enzymes would leave any DNA in the blood they ate anywhere close to intact after 65 million years.
    • The Procompsognathus at the beginning is identified as Basiliscus amoratus, a species of basilisk lizard that doesn't exist.
    • The lysine contingency makes no sense, since lysine is an essential amino acid, which are amino acids which specifically cannot be produced by the body. There is no gene that can be altered to remove the ability to produce lysine because there was never one to begin with. Animals in reality survive by simply consuming lysine-containing foods, which is what ends up happening by the end of the novel.
    • Hammond once had his former business partner Norman Atherton engineer a miniature but fully-formed elephant. Hammond carried around in a birdcage as a way to wow investors and earn funding. While the elephant did suffer a lot of health complications, like stunted tusks and repeated infections, unless its metabolic rate was altered in some way, an elephant that size would freeze to death in minutes.
  • Artistic License – History: Grant muses that if 60 years were compressed into a single day, 80 million years would become 3652 yearsnote , which according to him is older than the pyramids. The pyramids of Giza are more than 4500 years old.
  • Artistic License – Military: At the end of the book, the survivors are rescued by the Costa Rican Air Force, who then proceed to drop napalm over the island. Costa Rica doesn't have an "Air Force"; it has a "Civil Guard" — a gendarmerie (which was equipped with the helicopters that Crichton described).
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: In addition to making the dinosaurs female they also sterilized them with x-rays. When they're found to be breeding Alan states that radiation is very unreliable — actually it's because it takes a lethal dose to permanently sterilize most organisms.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • Several cases, but a particularly glaring example; the cannibalism of the raptors is claimed to be a product of captivity and likely not a natural behaviour. We know from the fossil record that this is untrue, as there are raptor bones with raptor bitemarks in them, suggesting that they did indeed kill and eat each other at least occasionally.
    • One new species of dinosaur being cloned is noted as "coelurosaurus", a dinosaur that doesn't exist.note 
    • At one point Dr. Harding comments that the large carnivores have rather weak jaws but strong necks, supposedly explaining how Malcolm survived being bitten by the T. Rex. While this is true of many therapod dinosaurs, they were specifically talking about the Tyrannosaur which happens to have the strongest bite force of any animal that has ever lived.Malcolm patially handwaves it, saying that the rex could have, in fact, killed him quite easily had she put more effort into attacking him.
    • The book's raptors are an odd case. Velociraptor was native to Asia (as indicated by its species name, Velociraptor mongoliensis, and was a tiny, turkey-sized animal. The book's raptors are much larger than this, (though not as large as the film's raptors) the size of Deinonychus. Crichton's primary source had argued at the time that Deinonychus antirrhopus should be reclassified as a species of Velociraptor, and this is what found its way into the book, thus the non-existent Velociraptor antirrhopus. However even at the time, the argument was rejected by every other paleontologist.
      • It should be noted that, while this is the cause for Dr. Grant's digging of a "Velociraptor antirrhopus" specimen in Montana in the beginning of the book, and is the basis for the film's raptor design, it does not account for the animals seen in the park-Dr. Wu specifies they are V. mongoliensis.THIS is because sources at the time of Crichton's writing of the book discussed the discovery of what were thought to be gigantic velociraptor bones in the Gobi desert of Mongolia, bones that would have mean the owner would have been some 15 to 20 feet long (i.e. the size of the movie's raptors). This mystery giant was given its own genus in 1999, Achillobator giganticus.
  • Asshole Victim: Nedry, Ed Regis and also Hammond - the latter is much more of a Jerkass in the book than in the movie.
  • Author Filibuster: Malcolm spends half of his scenes in the first book making pages-long speeches about the evils of private science, while he's supposedly dying to boot (and high off his ass on morphine). He does it again in the second book, but less frequently and less annoyingly. The third movie lampshades his tendency to ramble when Eric says he preferred Grant's book to Malcolm's for precisely this reason.
  • Badass Beard: Grant had one in the book.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Gennaro manages to convince the captain of a ship which (accidentally) carries raptors to turn around before he'd reach the mainland by claiming that if he doesn't, he "will be found in violation of Section 509 of the Uniform Maritime Act". When Grant asks what the Uniform Maritime Act is, Gennaro responds: "Who the hell knows?"
  • Big Brother Instinct: When all hell starts to run loose, Tim's first instinct when reuniting with Lex is to comfort her. Then he does all he can to protect her as the dinosaurs come on the attack.
  • Blatant Lies: When an injured worker from Isla Nublar is brought to the clinic at Bahía Anasco, Ed Regis claims that the guy was run over by a backhoe. Doctor Carter, however, takes one look at the wound and immediately recognizes it as an animal mauling, despite Regis maintaining his false claim.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: When Ed Regis hears the Tyrannosaurus roar, he pisses his pants.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: In the first novel, the raptors are often referred to as pack hunters, to the point where four of them distract Ellie just so that a fifth could start a sneak attack from the roof.
  • Closest Thing We Got: The island doesn't have a physician to treat Malcolm's injuries, only Dr. Harding who is a veterinarian. He does what he can but it's not enough, and Malcolm dies before help could arrive.
  • Convenient Cranny: Tim and Lex hide from a Tyrannosaur in a convenient cave behind a waterfall. The Tyrannosaurus then proceeds to pull Tim out with its tongue. Fortunately the tranquilizer it was shot with earlier kicks in just before it pulls the kid into its mouth.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Hammond is this to the core. He sees genetic technology as a means to get filthy rich and little else. He is not concerned about using the technology to help the world by fighting disease or feeding starving countries; he instead sees it as a means to create mass entertainment via cloning dinosaurs. The fact of dinosaurs being recreated is Hammond's justification that what he is doing is advancing science when it is really anything but. We do get to hear his justification in a flashback to when he recruited Wu; if you do something to aid mankind governments get involved and you end up losing money as likely as not, even if it works perfectly.
    • The entire Biosyn board of directors are these, with Lewis Dodgson being the most openly amoral. He actually headed a project to create an airborne-delivered rabies vaccine that had the unintended side effect of spreading real rabies through the air which is normally impossible. He released the defective vaccine in Chile where there were no laws or controls to stop him and subjected an unwitting populace to the virus without even thoroughly testing it first.
  • Cowardly Lion: Gennaro is the Amoral Attorney who whines a lot about the park and things he doesn't like about it and generally passes the buck on the blame. However, when the main power goes out and the raptors start running amok, Gennaro volunteers to restart the generator himself after Arnold apparently fails. He does this on his own, without being asked, aware that the last man who tried was probably eaten alive, and with no plan of escape after he succeeds. He fails to restore the power, but survives and wins a fistfight with a Velociraptor.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: It doesn't get much crueller and more unusual than Nedry's death. First he is blinded by the dilophosaurus' poisonous salvia. Then the creature slashes his belly open, causing his intestines to fall out. Then it picks him up by the head in its mouth. What is left of him gets eaten by scavenging compsognathus.
  • Cutting Corners: Even though John Hammond claims to have "spared no expense" when building his park, in truth he's actually done a lot of cost cutting. For instance, he tried to reduce the number of employees (and thus need to pay them) by having much of the park's functions being run by computers, including animal care, tour guides, and security. Said computer is programmed by a small company whose owner/operator/lead programmer got short-changed by Hammond, leading him to develop a grudge and ultimately sabotage the park. Muldoon asked for high powered weaponry to contain the dinosaurs in an emergency but was denied because of the cost (both in the weapons themselves and that each dinosaur took millions of dollars to bring life). Essentially, Hammond spared no expense on the things that the guests are likely to encounter, like the voiceover for the dinosaur tour and the restaurant, but skimped outrageously on the nuts and bolts details that the guests wouldn't see but are essential to keeping the park functioning properly. This culminates in the main computer failing and thus the whole park falling into disarray.
  • Deadly Road Trip: The vacationers in the beginning of the first book. Subverted in that nobody actually dies, though.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Malcolm is the most prominent, although Muldoon and Arnold also rate.
  • Death By Genre Savvy: This is averted with Muldoon, who survives the events of the first novel. Subverted with Malcolm, who looks like he's going to die but then in the sequel he is shown alive.
  • Death by Irony: John Hammond gets eaten at the end despite boasting that he "spared no expense" in creating the park. It happens because refused to pay Nedry a decent salary, which led to Nedry disabling the parks system, including the electric fences that kept the dinosaurs in check. Moreover, after falling into a ravine in panic at the roar of a dinosaur it turns out to have been a recording, played by the two kids he specifically invited just to try to convince Gennaro not to shut down the park.
    • Like in the film, Denis Nedry gets eaten by a Dilophosaurus sometime after the park's security systems shut down.
    • Dr. Wu, gets disemboweled by the dinosaurs he created.
    • Ed Regis, who fled the car and left Lex and Tim to deal with the adult T.rex, while he hid in the jungle to not get eaten. After it goes away, without having eaten anyone, including Malcolm, whose leg it bit, Regis comes out of hiding to take charge of the situation. He gets eaten by a juvenile Rex.
  • Death from Above: The Cearadactylus, a flock of viciously territorial pterosaurs.
  • Decoy Antagonist: The Tyrannosaur is probably the first carnivore dinosaur people think about (especially before the novel/film were released) and is constantly referred to as the greatest and most dangerous carnivore in history. She is the first dinosaur the human characters have to face when things start going to hell, and causes a lot of damage, but is disposed of about two thirds into the books, and for the climactic scenes the raptors are the biggest danger. Actually, the very first casualty in the novel was mauled by a raptor, and it's shown again how dangerous they are when the humans first land on the island, making them something of a dinosaur Chekhov's Gunman.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Not once, but twice. We don't meet Grant, Hammond or Sattler for the first third of the book. The book begins like one of the medical thrillers for which Crichton was best-known at the time, with Roberta "Bobbie" Carter, a young doctor, receiving an exceedingly unusual case in which a man has been mauled by an unknown creature (later revealed to have been a Velociraptor), despite the fact the company employing him insist it was a construction accident. However, she disappears after Chapter 1, and Martin Guitierrez, a biologist, becomes the point-of-view character, investigating incidents where mysterious reptiles have been attacking young children. However, once the compy remains that kick off the plot are analysed, he is Demoted to Extra and disappears for the majority of the novel, reappearing at the end.
  • Devoured by the Horde: There's a compy attack on Hammond, and Dr. Wu is swarmed by raptors. It isn't used in the movie though.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Ian Malcolm goes to great pains to explain all the flaws in the park to Hammond and the staff, and he stresses how short-sighted they all have been. He chastises them for thinking they can recreate a prehistoric world and contain and control it, when they can't possibly know what that world will turn out like, much less have complete mastery over it.
    • He points out that Dr. Wu is essentially throwing recovered dinosaur genes at the wall to see what sticks, without even bothering to understand what he is creating. He says it's one thing to reconstruct an extinct animal, but it's ridiculous to try to predict or control its hitherto unknowable behavior. Wu can't understand how a normal age distribution in the procompsognathus population indicates their active breeding, until Malcolm points out that a non-breeding population will have an age distribution with three peaks which represents the original three batches grown at different intervals.
    • He tells Arnold that the system is sliding inexorably towards total collapse, while Arnold can only see the next technical problem that needs tackling. Thus, soon after Arnold manages to bring the park back online, he is completely blindsided by the computer alert that the park has been running on auxiliary power which is about to fail.
    • He admonishes Hammond for his conceit that practical science should be pursued without thought to its negative implications on the world, and says that the park is a shining example of how humanity may just destroy itself in a futile effort to master nature in lieu of respecting it.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Nedry is treated horribly by Hammond, and ends up deciding to get revenge by stealing dinosaur embryos for Biosyn.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Our first looks at Hammond are Gennaro mentally recounting fraudulent omissions by Hammond in raising money for the park (including that a genetically engineered animal is unusually vicious) and Hammond quickly steering Grant around a possible animal escape without ever mentioning it might be connected to the park he wants Grant to review. It does not get better from there.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Nedry. More like "Exit, Pursued by a Dilophosaurus".
  • Exposition Party: Dr Wu's tour in the first book.
  • Failsafe Failure: Rebooting the system automatically switches everything into auxiliary power, but doesn't inform the users about this more than once. Turns out to be a very bad thing as the electrified perimeter fences can't be powered on auxiliary power. Which means that even if the whole park hadn't gone to hell, any power failure would have meant certain doom to both the parkgoers and staff!
    • There's also the computer's periodic automatic count of all the dinos, as a check against any dying, falling ill or escaping. It was designed on the assumption that the dinos have successfully been sterilised, and is thus (for efficiency) programmed to stop when the expected number of each species is reached; when Malcolm alters the parameters to do an exhaustive count, it turns out that the real problem is that there are more dinos than there are supposed to be.
  • For Want of a Nail: A tropical storm seriously mucks up Nedry's plans.
    Nedry had thought of everything. Except this damned storm.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Well into the park's collapse, Wu reflects that the dinosaurs' breeding means he's succeeded at recreating these creatures of the past, enough that they can even reproduce themselves.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: While the novel has several graphic death scenes, a literary version of the trope is used when Arnold is killed by a Velociraptor.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Averted. Nedry doesn't actually "hack" the system at all, instead using a backdoor that he deliberately built in to bypass the usual security.
  • Hope Spot:
    • When everybody watches the computer count up the number of total dinosaurs in the park to assure Grant that the dinosaurs can't be breeding, it counts up the expected number of 238 dinosaurs. Then Malcolm asks to count for 239, and the computer counts for 239 dinosaurs instead. Malcolm then asks to search for 300, and everyone watches as the counter slowly ticks up. The computer gives an error message, saying it can't find 300 dinosaurs, causing Hammond to believe the computer just made a mistake, but then the computer gives a total count of 292 dinosaurs found.
    • For awhile it seems as if the staff has regained control of the park and the reboot has purged Nedry's sabotage. A few people have died, some expensive dinosaurs have been lost, but things are back on track. Then they notice the park has been running on auxiliary power since the reboot and they're about to run out of fuel. Cue everything losing power, including the raptor cage.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: This is Malcolm's main problem with the park. It's set up in a way that would be laughably optimistic for controlling contemporary animals, and they're using it to try and house animals which are a complete unknown.
  • Ignored Expert: Most of the problems that result in the park falling apart ultimately stem from Hammond not listening to the experts he hired:
    • Malcolm was hired to do a mathematical assessment of the viability of the park. When his report says that there's a significant chance that the park will be a disaster, rather than try to reduce the odds or potential impact of the various problems Malcolm predicted (many of which end up happening), Hammond just ignores it.
    • Muldoon repeatedly said that he needed more equipment (specifically military grade weapons; Hammond only gave him one, which was in the Jeep Nedry stole, preventing Muldoon from using it for several hours) in order to control the animals in an emergency. His request was ignored for reasons of cost and because Hammond "didn't want anyone shooting his precious dinosaurs". Muldoon also advised that some of the dinosaurs (the raptors) were simply too dangerous to be kept around at all. Again, Hammond ignored him.
    • Wu suggested that they euthanize many of the current generation of dinosaur and replace them with a new batch that is modified to be less dangerous. Yet again, this is ignored.
    • More of a case of Abused Expert rather than ignored, but Nedry is not provided with enough information about what his project is for to do a good job, and gets massive scope creep forced on him without any increase in budget or schedule. Unsurprisingly, the system is very buggy and Nedry ends up disgruntled enough to accept Dodgson's bribe to steal embryo samples from the park, a plan that involves shutting down all park security long enough for dinosaurs to start breaking out of their pens.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Lex and Tim come very close to death a few times. At one point the T. rex wraps its tongue around Tim, only for the tranquilliser Muldoon shot it with to kick in and knock it out. Both ultimately survive.
    • Horribly averted in the opening where a young baby is Eaten Alive by escaped procompsognathus.
  • Improbable Taxonomy Skills:
    • Grant manages to identify an x-ray of an unknown reptile as the dinosaur species Procompsognathus triassicus from a brief look. This is made especially unbelievable by the fact the species in question is only known from a few poorly preserved, incomplete fossils, and lived more than two hundred million years ago in Europe, but the specimen was collected in Costa Rica of the present day, and as later found out, a genetic chimera.
    • Later, he also identifies some dinosaur eggs he finds as those of Velociraptor. Quite a feat, as no one has ever found a Velociraptor egg fossil.note 
      • However, he specifically points to egg's size, by pointing out there are no ostriches on the island when asked how does he know. It is thus likely that he merely made an educated guess based on size of the egg and species known to inhabit the island, as opposed to sspecifically identifying the egg.
  • Introduced Species Calamity: Several dinosaurs have already managed to escape from the park thanks to the incompetent management, some even making their way to the mainland. With the predators that would normally keep them under control contained back on Isla Nublar, they flourish as pests and opportunistic predators - eventually gaining attention when a Procompsognathus swarm kills a baby. The novel ends with the reveal that several velociraptors have managed to escape the napalm-bombing of Isla Nublar, and are now thriving in Costa Rica, overcoming their implanted lysine deficiency by stealing from local farms.
  • Inside Job: The plot is kicked off by park employee Dennis Nedry sabotaging the park's security systems in order to facilitate his theft of dinosaur embryos to sell to Biosyn, one of Ingen's competitors.
  • Irony: Hammond and Regis emphasise how much money has been spent, yet the park ultimately fails because of the things they skimped on. Like leaving the park's security in the hands of one IT engineer who was irate about being underpaid, and refusing Muldoon's request to equip the park with more and better weapons.
  • Instant Sedation: Averted. Muldoon hits the T. Rex with two canisters of sedative (thinking he missed with the first, though he may have), and then has to run when the Rex chases him. However, the Rex keels over about an hour later, and Muldoon muses that it took that long for the Rex to be affected.
  • I've Heard of That — What Is It?: When Lex notices a blood spot on the floor:
    Lex: How come it isn't real red?
    Tim: You're morbid.
    Lex: What's 'morbid'? I am not.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Ian Malcolm is an abrasive and non-repentant opponent of the park who does not compromise his beliefs for anything, and is absolutely certain of its failure even before seeing the actual park or knowing there are dinosaurs involved, and when seemingly shown all evidence to the contrary. He turns out to be completely correct of course.
    • Nedry does have some justification in selling out to Biosyn, given that InGen short-changed him and blackmailed him into returning to do extra work for free.
    • Amusingly, Hammond of all people, when he blames Arnold and Wu's failings for the events.
      • Wu's obsession with improving on the creatures he had made, using a reconstruction process that was bound to have side effects, led to the issue with the dinosaurs breeding in the first place.
      • Arnold's worrying about trivial things (such as the gearshifts on the Landcruisers not working) led to serious problems being ignored.
  • Karma Houdini: Dodgson, until the second book when he returns as the Big Bad and gets eaten by baby T. rexes.
  • Karmic Death: Nedry. Arguably Hammond as well.
  • Kill It with Fire: At the end of the first novel, the Costa Rican Air Force napalms Isla Nublar, killing all of the dinosaurs on the island.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Shortly after we see the first dinosaurs, we get an extensive scene of Wu talking about the science involved in creating the dinosaurs; basically, Crichton showing his work. It's from the point of view of people who are interested in it, so they keep asking questions, possibly leading the reader to wonder when they're going to see more dinosaurs. Then we switch to Tim's POV, and everyone else is bored out of their minds by all the science, wondering when they're going to see more dinosaurs.
    Lex was bored. Nedry was yawning. And even Dr. Sattler was losing interest. Tim was tired of looking at these complicated laboratories. He wanted to see the dinosaurs.
  • The Load: Lex doesn't even like dinosaurs, and was sent to the island with Tim merely as a trip to see their grandfather's park. When all hell breaks loose, she spends most of her time screaming or complaining that she's hot and thirsty.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Muldoon fires a rocket launcher at a velociraptor, turning its entire upper half into a giant red splatter against the wall.
    • The raptors achieve much the same result with the hapless workers they catch. Those victims who survive look like a backhoe went to town on them, and those who they manage to overwhelm are "all over the place" moments later. At one point, Lex realizes she's standing on someones ear!
  • Male Gaze: Several of the male characters take notice of Ellie's legs. Even Tim checks them out right before he recognizes Dr. Grant when they first meet..
  • Meaningful Name: The evil genetics company is named Biosyn.
  • Missing Backblast: Muldoon is able to operate a rocket launcher while wedged in an enclosed space (a length of sewer pipe) and emerge unscathed.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: The raptors are seen eating their own wounded and a baby raptor. It's suggested, however, that this was because they were raised in captivity, and that they never did it in the wild.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The aforementioned Ms. Sattler is an interesting example in that she provides more fanservice than her film counterpart. Laura Dern, the actress who played her in the film, was mostly dressed conservatively. In the novel, she's frequently decked out in short cut-offs and midriff-bearing tops. Malcolm and Genarro both express their appreciation.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: In-universe example: The Malcolm Effect is named after Ian Malcolm, and described a phenomenon in chaotic systems where the system is most prone to go out of control at the point where it's believed that control has been re-asserted over it, due to a single oversight. In this case it's the fact that powering down the park systems and restarting them brings the park up on auxiliary power, which can't provide sufficient amperage for the electric fences and will fail once the generator's fuel supply has been exhausted
  • Never My Fault: Hammond does this near the end of the book, blaming the park's failure on everybody who came to the island except for himself. Cue Karmic Death.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Tim feels that way about the T. rex even after it almost eats him.
    Tim: It's not his fault,
    Lex: Oh sure. He practically ate us and it's not his fault.
    Tim: He's a carnivore. He was just doing what he does.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Gennaro walks in to Malcolm's room just in time to catch the punchline of a joke Malcolm tells to Dr. Harding: "So the other man says 'I'll tell you frankly, I didn't like it, Bill. I went back to toilet paper!'"
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The first book has its major Oh, Crap! moment following Ian's Wham Line: The security system is designed to count each species of dinosaur up to the expected number of said species, and then stops. It can tell instantly if an animal's gone missing. It doesn't say if the animals increase their numbers. They reconfigure it to do so, and Oh, Crap! ensues when they realize the dinosaur population is over 50% bigger than expected, especially the raptors, which were OVER 400% more than expected. In the same scene they were boasting about how their camera system tracks all but a small percentage of the island; it takes the outsiders to point out that not only are those areas contiguous, the blind zone is along the river where animals will naturally congregate.
    • The book has a whole string of these after the T. rex is sedated. Alarms go off in the Control Room announcing that the Auxiliary power is running out. After the power goes out, they realize that they have been running on auxiliary power ever since they rebooted the system, which means that all the fences including the Raptor cage have been offline for 8 hours.
  • Ominous Foreshadowing: When the tour party first sees adult velociraptors, the latter immediately attack to kill and are only thwarted by an electric fence they hit regardless of knowing it is electrified. Malcolm remarks correctly that wild animals today do not behave like this around humans, ultimately musing that the most likely reason the raptors would attack people like that is that they have learned it is easy. Turns out Hammond is both disregarding and neglecting to share with his guests the actual safety record and concerns re: the raptors.
    • And The fence attacks are probes leading to the raptors escaping almost immediately once the fences are accidentally turned off in a system reboot. It takes the humans several hours to figure this out.
  • One Dose Fits All: Discussed: Muldoon points out that the same dose of tranquilizer will knock an elephant unconscious but only make a rhinoceros angry, so he has to make an educated guess about proper tranquilizer dose for an adult T. rex.
  • One Steve Limit: John Hammond and John Arnold. The movie averted this by changing the latter's name to Ray.
  • Overly Long Tongue: The Tyrannosaur has one, apparently. She uses it to try to grab the children from behind a waterfall, wrapping it around Tim's head.
  • Override Command: Nedry's thoughts on the concept currently provide the page quote.
  • Plot Hole: One of the subplots is there is a ticking clock for Grant to get back to the visitor's center and contact the boat to warn them that there are raptors on board, with him and Gennaro barely making it in time. Except Malcolm was there when Grant found out about the raptors and was around when the phones were working, with Arnold able to call for a helicopter to get him off the island. Malcolm has plenty of time to talk about science and politics but never bothers to bring up the raptors to anyone.
  • Poison Is Evil: Poison is a recurring theme in the novel, often used to highlight the irresponsibility of the park management.
    • Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleobotanist, notices that some of the plants on the island are poisonous and yet are distributed very close to public facilities like the hotel and swimming pools. She later learns that these plants were chosen for the "authenticity" of a prehistoric world without any regard to their actual traits, foreshadowing the eventual collapse of the park.
    • The cause of the Stegosaurus's illness is revealed to be West Indian lilac berries that it accidentally gobbled up when searching for gizzard stones from the ground. The park management failed to realize this obvious cause because they only observed the lilac bushes being undisturbed and thus assumed the Stegosaurus wasn't eating these toxic plants in the first place. Unsurprisingly, this revelation is a precursor to the discovery of breeding dinosaurs and an easily overlooked design flaw in the motion-tracking system.
    • At least two of the 15 prehistoric specimens on the island are venomous, namely the Procompsognathus and the Dilophosaurus. That itself wouldn't be bad if A) the former wasn't free-roaming the island to the point they could sneak on to boats to get to the mainland and B) the latter didn't have the ability to spit their venom at their victims from a faraway distance.
  • Prolonged Prologue: Crichton does this a lot, but Jesus is it bad here. The book opens with a single chapter about a doctor treating a wounded park worker, the shifts to an extended, multi-chapter arc about a little girl being attacked by compys on the mainland and the fallout of that before finally arriving at Grant and Ellie being invited to the park nearly 100 pages into the novel. And the kicker is that aside from a cameo from one of the compy arc's characters appearing in the book's epilogue, nothing about the prologue arcs is ever brought up again once the book goes to the actual park.
  • Ptero Soarer: The Cearadactylus. They're relatively accurate, to the point that their aggressive behavior is actually given a plausible excuse (they're simply incredibly territorial). They're even described as having "furry" bodies, alluding to the now widely accepted fact that most if not all pterosaurs were covered in a coat of hair-like pycnofibers.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the first chapter, a dying construction worker for InGen who comes in covered in slashes and bite wounds (apparently from a "construction accident"), manages to spurt out "Raptor, lo sa raptor...", to his doctor before he kicks the bucket. The doctor's paramedic tells her "lo sa raptor" is not Spanish for anything, but she checks her Spanish-to-English dictionary anyway and finds the word means "abductor". She checks her English dictionary too, and is surprised to find a definition for raptor in English as well: a bird of prey. It becomes abundantly clear later that "lo sa raptor" is not Spanish at all, but a mishearing of the word Velociraptor.
  • Profanity Police: Regis says "Jesus Christ!" when he sees that the Tyrannosaurus is about to attack. Lex scolds him for bad language.
  • Reality Ensues: At one point, a Cearadactylus tries to carry Lex into the air with its hindlimbs... only to discover that she's too heavy for it to carry.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Wu points out that it would be safer to get rid of all the small dinosaurs and predators and just breed the big, herbivorous and stupid ones, which are what many people expect to see anyway (this was written before the "Dinosaur Renaissance" popularized precisely by this book and movie). He even points out that with their knowledge in genetics, they can easily alter the dinosaurs to behave a certain way, just in case they don't. Hammond refuses however, declaring that he's giving people the real deal or nothing — which Wu tries to tell him is a stupid idea: the dinosaurs are already genetically engineered and modified, so are already not "real" dinosaurs, but rather, genetically engineered monsters. The dinosaurs had never and would never act like real dinosaurs did, simply because they had been born in captivity, without adult dinosaurs to raise them — the equivalent of feral children. Instincts without a compatible environment resulted in unpredictable — perhaps even suicidal behavior. In the sequel, a huge pack of raptors settle in a particular area simply because a large number of half-grown dinosaur corpses were dumped there after they died of a prion disease — they're there to eat infectious carrion. Similar problems occur when exotic reptiles are hatched from eggs in zoos.
  • Rewrite: Ian Malcolm died at the end of Jurassic Park. Not 'seemed to' or 'apparently' or 'was hinted to have.' The Lost World simply rewrote things so that he didn't die after all.
  • Roar Before Beating: The Tyrannosaurus, continuously. This is given a justification: they can't see prey that isn't moving and so they roar when they suspect it's hiding nearby by standing still to scare it into moving.
  • Rule of Cool / Rule of Scary: The book gives numerous completely hypothetical and speculative traits and abilities to several dinosaur species that are not supported by evidence, such as the Dilophosaurus being able to spit poison and the Procompsognathus having a venomous bite and hunting in packs.
  • Safely Secluded Science Center: John Hammond is conducting his genetic experiments on Isla Nublar, an island off the coast of Costa Rica, with the intention of developing it into a wildlife park with real dinosaurs; unfortunately, despite the claims of sparing no expense, the place was chosen more to preserve the initial secrecy of the project rather than safety, and the security protocols are full of holes - hence the disaster that results in Jurassic Park being shut down before it can even be opened. The second novel reveals that most of the real R&D took place on Isla Sorna, the company's secret factory floor: it was here that most of the dinosaurs were actually hatched and raised.
  • Scavengers Are Scum: Completely averted. The Compys are observed by the park staff to be a vital component of keeping the island running, as apatosaur poop no longer decays normally, but Compy poop does, and Compys eat apatosaur poop. And in their own way, when things start going awry, they're just as scary and dangerous as the T-Rex or the raptors.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: The book uses several dinosaur species that were considered obscure at the time, such as Velociraptor and Dilophosaurus, but due to the movie, later became Stock Dinosaurs. Some others appear that didn't become stock; in the case of Procompsognathus, this is even lampshaded.
  • She's Got Legs: Ellie. See Male Gaze above.
  • Shout-Out:
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The characters manage to stop the boat with the escaped raptors from reaching the mainland in the nick of time, but other raptors had already managed to get there anyway.
    • Also applies to the whole park visit, which was ostensibly about evaluating the park for a major breach in light of the possible "minor" animal escapes (compys). Other raptors are already on the mainland because animal containment failed a long time ago and a wild raptor population is established on Isla Nublar. The protagonist's battle for survival against the T-Rex and primarily the "contained" raptors only amounts to just that.
  • Shown Their Work: The book takes an excruciatingly long time explaining the genetic science in-depth, before any of the main characters show up or the first hints of the park are mentioned. It is legitimately fascinating, however. Crichton also spends a fair amount of time on computer science and chaos theory. This is a common storytelling device of Crichton's in every one of his books. Also, while most of the information pertaining to the dinosaurs is now very out of date, a lot of it was considered to be very accurate when the book was written, with a couple of deviations for Rule of Cool, such as Dilophosaurus being able to spit venom; this was also likely Rule Of Plot to help illustrate that they simply couldn't know everything about the creatures they were recreating, since there might be no way to tell the creature had a venom sack from its bones. The book in fact provides its own defense against Science Marches On. The scientists at inGen wanted to breed dinosaurs based on what they thought at the time was accurate, so they did. Hence, the Velociraptors are six feet tall and featherless.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Reversed; Ian Malcolm unambiguously dies in the first book (there's even a line in the epilogue about not being allowed to bury him) but survives in the movie, and miraculously survives in the unplanned book sequel thanks to Costa Rican surgeons.
  • Stopped Clock: Muldoon notices one when he conducts a Sherlock Scan of the scene of the first Tyrannosaurus rex attack. The fact that he finds a child's watch with a smashed face but an intact strap means that it was damaged during the attack and Tim (the child wearing it) removed it afterwards, meaning that he's still alive. The footprints leading away from the scene confirm Muldoon's hunch.
  • Super-Persistent Predator:
    • The Tyrannosaur seemed to be stalking Dr. Grant and the kids in particular, even leaving behind a Hadrosaur kill to pursue them down a river. It starts to become pretty obvious Rule of Scary when at one point it's waiting at the bottom of a waterfall with its jaws open, hoping they'll fall inside.
    • The Velociraptors are not only super-intelligent, but enjoy hunting for sport. They see hunting people as a fun challenge, and will gnaw through solid steel bars just to get at them. This is justified in story as the raptors raised in captivity have come to know that humans are an easy meal. The raptors that grew up in the wild that appear near the end of the book, by contrast, pretty much ignore Grant when he infiltrates their nest to count their eggs.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: Deinonychus antirrhopus (represented as Velociraptor antirrhopus) and Velociraptor mongoliensis are repeatedly confused; in the beginning of the novel, Grant is digging up a Velociraptor fossil in North America, which is where antirrhopus lives, but it's explicitly from the Late Cretaceous, which is when mongoliensis lived (and antirrhopus had already become extinct). The species of raptor present in Jurassic Park are also said to be mongoliensis, but their size is closer to antirrhopus. The confusion is the result of Crichton's primary source happening to be the one paleontologist who argued for Deinonychus to be reclassified as a species of Velociraptor. Even though his argument was discredited by every other paleontologist at the time, that's what ended up in the book.
  • Tech Marches On: In the book they don't realize the dinosaurs are breeding because they set the tracking program to stop counting when it hit the expected numbers just to save processor cycles. A bit short-sighted at the time, but a completely alien concept to a modern reader whose phone has more power than the entire island is said to.
    • The park is explicitly stated to be running on three Cray X-MP supercomputers. At the time, those were the best in the world, but by modern standards they're completely obsolete: compare their clockspeed of 105MHz to the iPhone 5s, which runs at about 1.2GHz. That's right: a modern phone has more processing power than a supercomputer in 1990, by a full order of magnitude.
  • Teetering on the Edge: During the T.rex attack, one of the jeeps gets knocked into a tree Alan and the kids on climbing down. The branches manage to slow it's descent with the three just barely avoiding getting crushed.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Ellie and Alan are explicitly not a couple; Grant says that she's engaged to a mutual friend. In the film, it's a little bit more ambiguous.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Grant gives a brief one to Gennaro near the end.
    You sold investors on an undertaking you didn't fully understand. You were part owner of a business you failed to supervise. You did not check the activities of a man whom you knew from experience to be a liar, and you permitted that man to screw around with the most dangerous technology in human history. I'd say you shirked your responsibility.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: Part of the backstory for InGen's chief rival company, BioSyn, in which they used a village of Chilean farmers as guinea pigs for an experimental rabies vaccine, using a form of the virus that had been turned into an inhaled pathogen. They got away with it because it happened on foreign soil, so the American government couldn't prosecute them, and the Chilean government had other problems at the time to keep them from raising a fuss.
  • Useless Security Camera: Most of the park is covered in motion detectors that continuously keep track of the number of dinosaurs on the island to make sure none are missing. Unfortunately, they were programmed to count up to the expected number, so say if there one hundred dinosaurs expected, but twenty escaped and thirty more were born, the computer would still calculate it as one hundred because there is at least one hundred total. This allowed the dinosaurs to breed and escape the park beneath the notice of InGen staff for a while.
    • Additionally, the motion sensors are said to cover over 80% of the island. There are some areas they can't be mounted in, but it's such a small area compared to the total island it was deemed acceptable. No one but Ian Malcolm points out that the non-covered percentage of the island is geographically contiguous (it's concentrated along a river, where wildlife would obviously flock to), giving the dinosaurs completely free run of the unmonitored area.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: Ellie does. Tim was checking out her legs the first time he saw her.
  • You Get What You Pay For: Most of the problems are due, directly or indirectly, to Hammond cutting corners and ignoring his department heads when they explained it. The software problems and Nedry's betrayal are due to Hammond tricking him into underbidding the job and then hitting him with feature creep. Animal control and safety equipment is completely inadequate because he refused to get better gear when it became obvious the animals were too fast and intelligent for what they stocked. The animals are able to run free in the park and breed without his knowledge because he relied entirely on an automated system (which was accidentally left on the wrong setting) to track them in order to cut staff expenses. Similarly, Muldoon's requests for military grade weapons to control the animals in an emergency were constantly diluted by Hammond on grounds of cost. As such, once the T-rex breaks free they only have one weapon on the island capable of subduing it... and that's in the jeep that Nedry stole.


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