Hello it is I, the irresponsible goblin! And this is Lit Lit, a segment I host where I get someone lit and we talk about books, and also, a full-fledged excuse to get drunk on a weekday, which I can do here because of Keynesian makework or something. This week, I had the pleasure of talking to Hannah Violins about a classic work of literature, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (pronounced Cry-tin). Hannah’s dialogue will be in plain old type, and actions will be in italics.
HV: Not to be confused with Jurassic Park the movie. Or the ride. Okay so. Opening scene: We see a clinic in Costa Rica, and this baby has been born, and then there’s this woman doctor and –the mother of the baby is screaming and she runs in and the baby’s face has been eaten off by–some creature. I’m sorry. That’s like very scary and harrowing.
Me: OOF. Uh Jesus fucking Christ yeah. I see why that got cut from the movie.
HV: Yeah! The baby’s face gets eaten off. So we don’t know what’s happening. Cut. To another scene and there’s this rich family in the US driving through this jungle in Costa Rica. They’re trying to get to some isolated beach and they get there, and this kid in the family runs off and she’s been bitten by this weird creature running around, they don’t know. So they send the creature fragments [from the bite] to some place in New York and the clinic says “These don’t like a lizard, this looks like a dinosaur.” And the other people are like, “Yeah it’s a lizard” and there’s this debate about three vs. five toes on the foot. I don’t know. It’s a whole thing. But they don’t think it can be dinosaurs.
Me: Right, and also dinosaurs have been extinct for sixty-five million years.
HV: Cut to Montana or South Dakota or something where there’s this dig happening and Allen Grant and Ellie Sattler are there [played in the movie by Sam Neill and Laura Dern respectively] digging and this guy–I can’t remember his name right now ‘cuz I’m lit, but it’s–oh Hammond! Hammond picks them up and he takes them to this island with this really sexy guy Ian Malcolm–I shouldn’t say that.
Me: Is he sexy in the book?
HV: He’s sexy in the movie he’s not sexy in the book. He’s just this chaos mathematician but he’s really sexy in the movie–this is just a plug for Jeff Goldblum. Anyways, they go to the island and Hammond’s kids are there and they’re talking about the dinosaurs and the dinosaurs are there! So they see the dinosaurs and they freak out “What the fuck is happening?” and then they go on a little tour. And this other guy’s been paid by a competing biotech firm to steal the embryos, and he steals them but he dies and shuts all the power off in the park.
Me: So this is just like the movie.
HV: Exactly. So the kids run off with Allen Grant and Ellie gets separated with Hammond. Ian Malcolm is–wait, no–yes, yeah Ian Malcolm is gravely injured by the T-Rex, and they’re caring for him. So anyways, the kids in the park. They’re getting chased by the T-Rex and they go down the river in a raft into the pterodactyl exhibit where the pterodactyls are diving down and trying to eat them. Then the raptors get out and these geneticists and works are all dying and then finally–I forget how it resolves, they get the power back on and they’re putting the animals back in their places. Hammond dies ‘cuz he falls down this ravine. He gets eaten by these little tiny dilop–tiny things I forget what they’re called. They ate the baby in the beginning.
Me: How did they eat this baby?
Hannah proceeded to act out an impression of how very small dinosaurs might eat a baby. Lots of teeth were involved. She then apologized for her depiction and the frankly unconvincing dinosaur sounds she made with it.
HV: At the end Grant and Sattler go diving into these caves to see how many dinosaurs were born and might have escaped and they count that–they count the babies. Malcolm dies, but it’s funny ‘cuz in the next book he comes back ‘cuz he was so popular from the movie. In the next book they’re like “Uh no he just went into a coma it’s not like that” and then he’s the main character in the next book. But here he quote unquote dies and the Costa Rican military bombs the island. And that’s how it ends.
Me: Wait. They bomb the island? Because there’s dinosaurs on it?
Me: Do the people get off the island?
HV: Yeah they get off alright they’re just fine. But the dinosaurs are not fine. They get bombed. They get fucking bombed! They left that part out of the movie. It’s a good book.
HV: Hammond is talking to Ian Malcolm while Malcolm is gravely injured, dying really, or “going into a coma” and he’s saying how humans are going to destroy the world–you know because of global warming and all that shit. And then Malcolm goes on this rant where he goes “Humans can destroy themselves but they can never destroy the planet because life always finds a way. It’s really narcissistic to think that we can destroy the planet when some life will find some way to get by.” So that’s one theme.
Another theme is like bioethics, like, is it ethical to clone shit?
“Is it ethical to clone shit?” –Hannah Violins, 2018
There’s a thing in the beginning where they talk about all these biomedical companies who are competing to create the best shit, and they make trout that glows in the water so it’s easier to catch. But at the same time, what makes them glow makes their flesh taste really bad. So the question is, is that ethical? And it’s a big commentary on genetics and technology and humans’ ability to shape the world around them, and for what ends. People want to make more money without any thought for if it’s ethical or will advance society. These people don’t want to work at universities they want to work at these companies and make lots of money.
I think that what we should do is destroy all technology and live totally off the land, like an agrarian lifestyle. That’s what we need to do. I don’t know. I’m just making shit up, but technology scares me, and I think farming would be better for everybody. Anyway, next question.
DIFFERENCES FROM THE FILM
HV: Ian Malcolm is even more extreme in the book than he was in the movie, and less likeable. Also in the movie Grant hates kids and kind of learns to love kids through his time in the park with them. But in the book Grant loves kids, because kids love dinosaurs. So Grant and the boy Tim really bond in the book, where like the movie they just added some tension. Besides that, I would say the girl character in the book is just like a little brat. I think they’re stereotyping her as a bratty little girl, and I like what they did in the movie instead where they made her a hacker even though that doesn’t make sense. She’s sad in the book ‘cuz her parents are getting divorced and she just wants to play catch all day. But she’s less developed and just an annoying little girl. There’s one point where she has to cough and the T-Rex hears her and starts swimming toward her.
Also the T-Rex is a character. In the book there’s a little T-Rex and a big T-Rex, and when it’s chasing them in the raft the little T-Rex distracts the big one and they get away. Instead of killing the T-Rex they get it tranquilized.
I’ve probably read this book ten times. Okay no maybe five times. I reread this book every time I’m home to the point where my parents say “Hannah are you rereading Jurassic Park again?” And it’s like Get off my case Mom.
But often when there’s a movie and book either the book is great and the movie’s terrible or the movie’s great and the book sucks. In this case they’re both good, but they’re differently good. If you want a more in-depth discussion of bioethics and shit read the book. I think everyone should read the book, people think the book is just not as good and the movie’s better but here’s a plug: I love it and everyone should read the book.