Jurassic Park and the Lost World are an interesting new perspective on the consequences of science and getting involved in the competitive market of the biochemistry industry. These two tales follow the sequence of events that follows when a company called “In-Gen” succeed in their endeavour to bring the extinct race of Dinosaurs back to life, and to features these creatures in a theme park that is believed will enrapture millions. Michael Crichton takes utterly believable scientific theory to create this utterly enchanting and horrifying world. However, amongst the creating of this story and following the plot line of the movies we all know and love; he gets caught-up in what I call the “World-Building” of his novels. See in my -admittedly somewhat unsupported- opinion there are three main ways in which an author writing a novel that has rules outside of reality can express how their world of fiction functions.
The first is the ‘Sporadic Approach’. The ‘Sporadic Approach’ as the title would suggest is when the author/writer introduces the audience to the rules of this reality as the time for such knowledge approaches. This is usually done through plot devices, and expressed in short bursts of a large amount of information being introduced with long gaps in-between in which the rules of this reality remain stagnant and applied to all characters. Then as the plot finds it necessary these rules are either challenged or applied to. This is commonly seen in TV shows such as Teen Wolf, Vampire Diaries and Once Upon a Time. It is also found in books such as, Vampire Academy, Mortal Instruments and Harry Potter. It can be useful in cases which the world being introduced has a lot of differentiation from reality, in order not to overwhelm the reader and allow for some semblance of understanding to occur gradually along with a relationship with the characters.
The second approach is called the ‘Gradual Scheme’. The ‘Gradual Scheme’ is essentially like a steady flowing river of information, where instead of small clumps of world building occurring throughout the book, there is an underlying plot line introducing the inner-working of the world. This is usually revealed through the eyes of a character new to the situation, in most cases the main character. It is also useful when there are organisations or small groups with a hierarchy involved directly in the plot. For instance, say the story is about a rebellion against a higher ‘evil power’. The rebellion would have its own hierarchy of people in power and its own inner workings of operations along with people important to 1) the main character or 2) important to the overall plot line. The ‘evil power’ would probably mirror this design. The main character who we as an audience learn through, would probably view these places as alien terrain and as such would observe things that someone who was used to this environment would glaze over. These details often give us an idea of how things work. Also, other characters might take time to explain things and events to the main character which is another method to introduce the situation. This method is commonly seen in Shatter Me, Star Wars, Divergent, Twilight and Avatar: The Last Airbender. It is a useful method to employ in story wiring when there are multiple plot lines and character developments to consider whilst still making sure the world structure makes sense.
The third and final method, which is employed by Michael Crichton is called the ‘Info Dump’; and again with a revealing name we can gather what it means. The ‘Info Dump’ is when during the story, usually at the beginning, the author takes the time to build the world before falling into the main plot of the story. This usually occurs when the main characters are other wise occupied and the plot has not even begun. It condenses all the rules and structure and in some cases the history before the event into one section so that there is no need for it later and there can be more focus on the action occurring. This is usually done in a round-about way in which the main character is not particularly involved at all. In the case of both Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Crichton takes the time to offer some opening history of the goings on before anybody really goes anywhere near the dinosaurs. Int he first book, most of the beginning chapters centre around the science of bio-engineering and how it is a competitive industry for people who set out looking for ways to profit from science. It also goes into the history of bio-engineering and a introduction into the company that is In-Gen and its competitors. Whilst it is sometimes essential for this information to be out there, in this case I believe it took away from the book.
While the science explored in both book is fascinating and something I wouldn’t mind reading about in a different context, it does indeed take away from the books in terms of its ability to keep the reader’s attention. What was revealed in the ‘Info Dump’ was important to the story as a whole and if told during the action sequences would’ve slowed down the book. But I can’t shake the opinion that this information could’ve been better revealed, perhaps through plot devices such as, speech between characters, the observation of other, an argument, or causal mention even. The biology could’ve also been implemented into the plot in a bit more of a subtle way that just was given. Nonetheless, it was a good book. I really enjoyed it and was quite surprised about the underlying scientific theory and how it played into the book as a whole which i didn’t realise until the end. Once the main plot line got started everything was smoothed out and became quite enjoyable; and even though I have seen the movies numerous times i still found myself loving the novels despite how closely in the beginning they aligned with each other. They were truly unique and i only wish that Crichton had considered writing some more to add to the series, though I suppose I can be satisfied with his involvement in the movies that followed.