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Literature / The Lost World (1995)

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Too much change is as destructive as too little. Only at the edge of chaos can complex systems flourish.
Ian Malcolm

The Lost World is a 1995 Science Fiction Thriller novel written by Michael Crichton. This book is a sequel to Jurassic Park.

Six years after the disaster at Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm — who is revealed to have actually survived the events of the previous novel via a retcon — teams up with paleontologist Richard Levine after learning about Site B, the "production facility" where the park's dinosaurs were hatched and grown, on Isla Sorna near Isla Nublar (the Jurassic Park site). When Levine leaves without Malcolm, he plans a rescue, with a team consisting of engineer Jack "Doc" Thorne, mechanic Eddie Carr, and two stowaway children, R.B. "Arby" Benton and Kelly Curtis.

However, not only do they have to contend with dinosaurs, but they have to contend with a rival group consisting of geneticist Lewis Dodgson, Dodgson's assistant Howard King, and biologist/P.R. consultant George Baselton. This group intends to steal dinosaur eggs for Biosyn, the rival company of InGen, the Jurassic Park company.


In all, it bears only a passing resemblance to its cinematic adaptation, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Takes its title from an Arthur Conan Doyle novel with a similar premise.

This book provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Oddly enough, continuing one that was set up on the previous book. The first couple of chapters or so are the investigation on the mystery of various animal attacks on Costa Rica and the appearance of strange unidentifiable animal corpses (which are the Velociraptors who managed to escape from Isla Nublar before it was firebombed) and the apparent conspiracy of the Costa Rican government to keep this under wraps. Once the narrative switches to the other characters and they go to Sorna, this is never brought up again. Then again, see Bus Crash.
  • Action Girl:
    • Sarah Harding. She's physically the strongest human character in the book with some extremely impressive strength feats like punching a raptor and shove Dodgson into the T. rex's mouth with her legs.
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    • Kelly also gets a minor go at this by shooting a raptor from a moving motorcycle with a Lindstradt air rifle during a high speed chase.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Howard King. Compared to Dodgson, he's not a bad guy, and ends up just trying to survive. He ends up fleeing from a pack of Velociraptors, and even gets a Hope Spot when he almost makes it to safety before they bring him down.
  • Author Appeal: In a minor example, Crichton admits he gave the Carnotaurus the ability to blend in with its surroundings purely so he could see how The Film of the Book would depict such a thing. Subverted when the second Jurassic Park film went in a completely different direction, though the concept would eventually be used (after Crichton's passing) with the hybrid Indominus rex in the film Jurassic World.
  • Author Filibuster: As per usual. Malcolm, Levine, and Thorne on occasion are the main culprits. There are chapters where we almost get it in stereo, with both Malcolm and Levine discussing and arguing over scientific concepts.
  • Asshole Victim: Lewis Dodgson gets eaten by baby dinosaurs. Considering that he tried to get the group killed, he totally had it coming to him.
  • Base on Wheels: The "Challenger Trailers" (an extensively modified Fleetwood RV).
  • Big Bad: Lewis Dodgson, who had bribed Dennis to steal genetic material in Jurassic Park, has taken on an active role this time around.
  • Black and Nerdy: Arby is an extreme example; he's actually being skipped ahead in grades because he's so smart.
  • Bland-Name Product: Levine is heir to the family fortune of the creator of "Becky" dolls, a clear stand-in for Barbie.
  • Blatant Lies: As soon as Levine is rescued by Thorne, Eddie, and Malcolm, he tries to explain away his original panicked phone call begging to be saved as him trying and failing to work the phone Thorne gave him. He even has the audacity to admonish Thorne for this while surrounded by death glares from everyone.
  • Bus Crash: Dr. Gutierrez mentions, through all the heresay, it seems the dinosaurs that escaped onto the mainland and hid in the jungles and mountains of Costa Rica were hunted down and killed by the government.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Very subtle. In the High Hide, Levine is eating a candy bar and lets the bits of wrapper fall to the ground. Later, raptors kill Howard King, and one of them finds the candy bar he has and eats it, seemingly enjoying it. Afterwards, the raptors march directly under the High Hide, naturally scaring everyone out of their wits, but they don't notice the High Hide and keep going. Until the last raptor notices something on the ground... the candy bar wrapper. Yep, it's the same raptor, and after finding the wrapper, he finds the High Hide, leading to the whole pack attacking it.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Levine does this, saying that (specifically) Thorne was driving too recklessly from the charging Tyrannosaur, and (generally) that he was doing all right on the island and didn't need help anyway. Bear in mind this is after his panicked, static-filled phone call begging for help. His rescuers are not pleased.
  • Continuity Nod: Dr. Sarah Harding, who helped nurse Malcolm back to health and dated him for a while, is implied to be the daughter of Jurassic Park's resident veterinarian, Dr. Gerry Harding. Along with sharing a surname, she mentions that her father had been a vet and a bird specialist at San Diego zoo, which was what Gerry Harding was before signing with InGen.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover of the book has the silhouette of an Allosaurus, a dinosaur which does not appear in the book.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Everyone bar Diego, whose death was offscreen. Baselton gets his arm torn off by a T. rex, which then proceeds to rip him apart until he's nothing but a mass of red flesh, King gets his head bitten off by raptors at the base of the neck, and Eddie gets torn apart by Velociraptors, who continue to fight over his remains all the way back to their nest (though Levine later claims it was a quick death). But Dodgson takes the crown for most gruesome death in the book, as he is eaten by a bunch of baby T. rexes. When he tries to escape, an adult T. rex bites through his leg so that he can't escape as one of the babies rips out his cheek and swallows it whole. He finally gets put out of his misery when one of the infants tears out his throat.
  • Cutting Corners: Once again, InGen doing things on the cheap but dangerously impractical rears its head — not only is the island's remaining infrastructure absurdly insecure (see down on Swiss Cheese Security), but the fact that InGen fed the dinosaurs with badly-made ground sheep (a known carrier of scrapie, as opposed to antibiotic-infused poultry — a tried-and-tested method used by zoos worldwide), and disposed of its failed dinosaur experiment corpses in the lousiest of fashions (by dumping them all on a spot of the island without even bothering to burn them) has now doomed all of the dinosaurs on the island to die of prion-based poisoning and neural degeneration, because the meat-eaters have gorged themselves on the rotten bodies and the contamination will eventually affect even the herbivores.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Levine has a conversation with Malcolm over radio about how "bringing the baby [T. rex] here is an awfully bad idea." Not even a full chapter passes before he has the same conversation in the High Hide with Eddie precisely word for word as he had it with Malcolm, right down to his answer of "We don't know, is the point!" when he's asked how he thinks the parents will react.
  • The Dreaded: The Carnotaurus pack. Their near perfect camouflage makes them such effective hunters that even the raptors and rexes won't go near their territory at night.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • Richard Levine. He gets his license yanked and is ordered to teach as community service for driving 120 miles per hour in a 15 mile per hour school zone. In his Ferrari.
    • As mentioned above in Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like, Levine accuses Doc Thorne of this. Justified Trope, with a dose of hypocrisy from Levine, since they were fleeing from a tyrannosaur.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Donald Gennaro is revealed to have died of dysentery shortly after returning to Costa Rica.
  • Drunken Song: A version. Malcolm sings "Dixie's Land" while high on morphine.
  • Extinct Animal Park: The book explores the infrastructure that such a park would logically require. The process of cloning dinosaurs shown in the first novel was too streamlined to be realistic, so this novel patches up that plothole by retconning that all the real cloning work was carried out at "Site B" on a completely different island, while the labs at Jurassic Park itself were just a show to impress visitors. In the present day, the protagonists explore the long-abandoned Site B in hopes that its ecosystem of feral dinosaur clones can shed some light on the actual behavior of prehistoric megafauna.
  • Fantasy World Map: The front and back of the book includes a handy map of Isla Sorna with the location of events in the book marked.
  • Fix Fic: Many elements in The Lost World seem to be Michael Crichton correcting errors he made (unintentionally or not) in Jurassic Park.
    • Notably, the "Amphibian Visual Cortex" (the idea that dinosaurs can see only movement) is widely derided. The theory comes up as having been postulated by an inept paleontologist, and Baselton and Dodgson following it at the tyrannosaur nest gets Baselton killed. Levine states that the only reason for a tyrannosaur to not attack someone would be if it wasn't hungry, as anything around the size of a goat would be sufficient, unknowingly describing the situation Alan Grant found himself in. Levine also takes time to rubbish Grant for suggesting a driving rainstorm could confuse a tyrannosaur, presumably unaware Grant was speculating after an actual encounter with one.
    • The Velociraptor having fully developed pack dynamics after breeding in the wild with no adult raptors to teach them said dynamics is taken to task. The raptors on Isla Sorna have just enough organization to hunt their prey, but devolve into a feeding frenzy and fight over the meat once the kill is made, and their nest is full of smashed eggs and underfed juveniles.
    • Most notably, the entire concept stems from this. Malcolm notes that, in the tour in the first book, Hammond showed them one room where they do the DNA extraction, sequencing, and repair, and in the very next room they're incubating embryos in artificial eggs from that recovered genetic material. Malcolm states that, while that's very slick and makes for a good narrative, in reality, the type of genetic engineering Jurassic Park was trying to accomplish would have ridiculously high failure rates, with a very, very small percentage of viable embryos from the process. Thus, it stands to reason there was a "factory floor" where all the unsightly business of the failed experiments actually took place, well out of view of any potential rich tourists and their kids. Isla Sorna, "Site B," is that factory floor.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At one point where he's twiddling his thumbs, Levine muses that when he first arrived on the island, he thought he caught a glimpse of a dinosaur that resembled Carnotaurus. The gang winds up dashing right into the middle of their territory near the end of the book.
    • Malcolm’s lecture in the very first chapter, which Levine interrupts, goes on to mention prions as the chapter closes. Prions turn out to be a key part of the situation.
    • Sarah Harding talks to Kelly about a fellow zoologist who, before going in the wild, studies all the existing documentation about the animals he's going to study, then discovers from his own observation that most of said documentation is factually wrong. A bit later, Baselton assumes from existing science papers that T. rex has a frog-like brain and is unable to see things which stand still, and is quickly proved wrong when the T. rex kills him despite him standing motionless.
  • Gadgeteer Genius / Mr. Fixit: Eddie Carr could be described as a true Gadgeteer Genius while Doc Thorne is more a Mr. Fixit, as Arnold would be.
    Eddie: Violence and technology... not good bedfellows!
  • Gorn: In-universe, but 'off-screen', Arby and Kelly get to see Baselton literally ripped into pieces by tyrannosaurs.
  • Handicapped Badass: Malcolm has problems with his leg (because of the previous dino-related injuries and later because of injuries that he gets when the T. rexes attack the camp) but he (mostly) maintains his usefulness throughout the book.
  • Harmful to Minors: Kelly and Arby both witness some gruesome human deaths in spite of the efforts of Thorne and the others to keep them from seeing those.
  • History Repeats: The dinosaurs of Isla Sorna are doomed to go extinct all over again, due to the carnivores contracting scrapie from eating prions-infected meat and the disease infecting the herbivores as well.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: The carnotaurs can not just change the colour of their skin but even mimic complex patterns like chain fences and adopt the effects of torches shone on them, all in mere moments — no modern animal has anything near so advanced. That said, Rule Of Cool/Scary is in full effect.
  • I Lied: Sarah lies about the number of shots left in the Lindstradt that Kelly is using to kill a raptor so the latter can be better motivated to aim carefully.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Kelly and Arby both survive, though not unscathed. Arby in particular gets the utter stuffing kicked out of him.
  • Just Desserts: Dodgson, who gets eaten alive by baby T. rexes.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Dodgson attempts to murder Sarah by pushing her off the boats in the treacherous, rocky coast; when they're both pinned down under a car, hiding from a T. rex, she slowly pushes him out for the rex to see. It then takes him to its nest, where he gets eaten by the baby T. rexes. The one that finally kills him is the same one whose leg his team broke when they invaded the nest.
      Malcolm: You see? There is a God.
    • Subverted by King, who gets almost as grisly an end at the jaws of Velociraptors — but didn't really do anything to deserve it. The worst thing he does is clumsily break the leg of the baby T. rex, and he was scared out of his mind while doing so.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Both King and Dodgson separately come to the conclusion that they need to "get the fuck off this island" once Baselton is ripped apart by T. rexes in their failed attempt to steal the rex eggs and subsequent flight in stark terror.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The book takes an entire chapter to point out how stupid it is to assume a T. rex can't see you if you don't move, killing a character who tries it. It also handily suggests another explanation for the fact that it apparently worked in the first film and book — the tyrannosaur had just eaten and simply wasn't hungry.note 
  • Mama Bear and Papa Wolf:
    • The two T. rexes are not going to let anyone hurt or take their babies away.
    • Double Subverted with the Maiasaurus herd. When Dodgson's team takes eggs from their nesting grounds right in front of them with help from his acoustic weapon, they seem to completely forget that he was even there to do what he did. But later, the herd comes across the jeep he had put the eggs in and completely demolishes it to rescue the newly-hatched calves.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Howard King; he considers it part of his job to rein in Lewis Dodgson's ruthless side, seems truly horrified when Dodgson seemingly murders Sarah Harding, and is the first to acknowledge that maybe this whole egg theft isn't a good idea. It doesn't save him.
  • Mood Whiplash: After King gets torn apart by raptors, one of them picks up and eats a candy bar the victim drops. It appears to enjoy it.
  • Native Guide: Diego, a local who has been to the island several times before the dinosaurs were put there and is convinced there is no danger, serves this role for Levine briefly.
  • Nerves of Steel: Lewis Dodgson, despite having never seen one of Hammond's cloned dinosaurs before, is still absolutely unflappable when dealing with them. He even has the balls to go after T. rex eggs and keeps the parents at bay with his sonic weapon while Baselton and King are nearly shitting their pants. It's when he accidentally rips out the power cord for the sonic gun that Dodgson starts to lose his nerve, culminating in a full blown Villainous Breakdown when he wakes up to find the compys starting to eat him while he was unconscious.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Lewis Dodgson had just left Sarah Harding at the Costa Rica docks instead of inviting her along and then grabbing hold of the Villain Ball by trying to murder her by throwing her off the boat, he might have survived to bring back something valuable from Isla Sorna.
  • Noodle Implements: Jack Thorne was notorious for having pulled these on his Structural Engineering 101a students at Stanford University as a form of engineering improvisation. Such assignments included constructing a chair to support a 200 pound man using only paper Q-tips and thread, pulling the answers to the final exam off the roof using only a shoebox containing licorice and toothpicks, and dropping an egg off the building and ensuring it doesn't break using only cardboard toilet paper rolls (that one famously didn't work).
  • Oh, Crap!: There are several of these moments in the story.
    • When King loses his nerve and refuses to grab a T. rex egg, Dodgson berates him and winds up yanking the electrical cord out of his sonic gun: the only thing keeping the T. rexes at bay. Dodgson freezes on the spot in sheer terror.
    • Levine realizes how absolutely screwed Malcolm and Sarah are in the trailer when the T. rex couple come for their baby and mark the extension of their territory to include the clearing with the trailer in it.
  • Off with His Head!: Howard King gets his head ripped off by the raptors.
  • Only in It for the Money: George Baselton is willing to help InGen cover up their dinosaur disaster one day and then hire on to help Biosyn capture dinosaurs the next.
  • Pushed at the Monster: When Sarah and Dodgson are hiding under an abandoned jeep, a few yards away from a T. rex nest, Dodgson is whispering, trying to formulate an escape, Sarah, still furious that he pushed her overboard on the boat ride over, comes up with her own plan. She pushes him out of their hiding spot, the adult T. rex notices and grabs Dodgeson, and drops him in the middle of the nest. While Dodgeson screams while being eaten by the rex's brood, Sarah makes a break for it.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Ian Malcolm cites this trope at the beginning of the book to explain the Retcon of his death.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Exploited by Biosyn. Dodgson remarks that while animal rights activists can easily drum up support for laboratory dogs who "lick your hand and break your heart," reptiles are less likely to garner such public sympathy, particularly genetically engineered ones like InGen's dinosaurs. Hence, his expedition to Isla Sorna for potential experimental subjects.
  • Retcon: Ian Malcolm died in the Jurassic Park book. Not implied, not foreshadowed, but outright stated — the fact that the government wouldn't release his corpse for burial is a minor plot point in the epilogue. However, he got better and is now the protagonist of this book.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Soon after reaching Isla Sorna, Levine comes across a Mussaurus, a tiny prosauropod. There's a humorous meta case of this; mussaurs are not listed with the map as a species seen on the island.
  • Shout-Out: In a nod to the original The Lost World, the paleontologist stated in-story to have originated the "tyrannosaurs can only see movement" theory is named John Roxton.
  • Super Cell Reception: The novel has satellite phones that are explicitly extra-durable and specifically made for the island, but it's eventually zigzagged: the phones fail and garble a message, which helps kick off the plot. However, Thorne believes that it's because Levine mucked up using it, Levine because Thorne made it too complicated.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: The island's security depends entirely on its remoteness. Arby finds this out when his attempt to guess the computer network's password fails and it just asks him to create a new account.
  • Take That!:
    • Funny enough, the novel takes a couple of digs at its predecessor (and most especially, the movie adaptation thereof). Look on Viewer-Friendly Interface and Lampshade Hanging for the full explanation.
    • Levine himself appears to be a Take That! to Ian Malcolm's personality from the first book, being a smug self-satisfied scientific genius who acts like a rock star and whose ego is utterly immune to criticism. Predictably, Malcolm can't stand him and takes constant jabs at his arrogance.
  • Teetering on the Edge: The T. rexes push a double-trailer until the back trailer is dangling over a cliff. Malcolm and Harding, stuck inside the trailer, have to climb up the inside before the connection gives out, dropping the vehicle into the canyon below.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: The book parodies this (especially the 3D output from the first film) when the InGen OS turns it into a useless display of cutting edge graphical power that... turns the display into a 3D cube. This angers the characters, who are trying to escape feral raptors. The character eventually gets the bright idea to just follow the cables the computer is running on, which are, quite logically, in a crawlspace so they can be serviced. By the time the raptors get in, they're gone.
  • Villain Ball: Lewis Dodgson decides to bring Sarah Harding on the boat to Isla Sorna as soon as she reveals her connection to Levine, assuming she can provide valuable information or assistance. As soon as he teases out from her that she has told nobody where she is or where she's going, he practically creams himself at the thought of eliminating her without any consequences. Unfortunately for him, this sows the seed of his own demise.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Eddie won't shoot a baby T. rex that's biting at his boot.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Arby and Kelly. Justified in that Arb is a child prodigy, albeit naïve, and Kel is very smart and enjoys being with smart people.