John Michael Tim Crichton Murphy
“All major theme parks have had delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956 nothing worked!”
“But John, if the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”
This brief conversation from the well-known film Jurassic Park between John Hammond, the owner of the park and Ian Malcolm, a mathematician, reflects the entire premise of the novel Jurassic Park. In the novel Michael Crichton introduces the reader to the Technothriller genre and a world where fantasy and reality don’t always mix well. Born in Chicago, Illinois on October 23, 1942, Michael Crichton’s life issues and extensive travels to exotic locales affected many of his novels, including Jurassic Park. Getting to know the life of Michael Crichton, reveals that in Jurassic Park he creates the character of Tim and Tim’s father as a reflection of Michael Crichton’s own relationship with his father.
Michael Crichton’s real name was John Michael Crichton, but he was often called Michael because his father’s name was John. Michael’s father was a journalist which led Michael to start his career as a writer almost immediately. Crichton’s mother took an extremely active role in showing her children culture by taking them to hundreds of museums, plays, and movies, opening Michael Crichton up to the many different subjects of novels he has written about. His many troubles with his father John Henderson included verbal abuse. “My father insisted on clarity and brevity, and he could be a harsh critic,” Crichton explained in his autobiography Travels (Aaseng 14). Because of this abuse, Crichton believed that he could not support himself as a writer so he went off to medical school. When Michael Crichton was in college, he believed that his professors weren’t being fair to him with his writing by giving him constant bad grades. Crichton decided to experiment with this by taking an essay written by George Orwell, a famous author, and plagiarizing it. His teachers never suspected it but still gave him a B-. This experiment showed the world Michael Crichton’s inner child. During his college years, Michael Crichton started writing stories that were successfully published. This, along with his strong dislike of medical school, caused Crichton to quit. When he had finally told his family that he was quitting, they were devastated. They couldn’t believe that he would turn down such an esteemed career, so to make them happy he decided to finish school but not become a doctor. Michael Crichton later moved to Los Angeles where he officially started his writing. With the bonus of his medical experiences, Crichton created a new genre of books: The Technothriller. The Technothriller “provides a vast number of facts to educate the reader about the subject and packages it in a story filled with suspense and nonstop action,” (Aaseng 10). It was believed that the Technothriller had become such a success because of Crichton’s rare intelligence. However, the Technothriller wasn’t all that Michael had focused on; he also did serious novels about real issues such as abortion, sexual harassment and economic warfare. His very first novel which Crichton called Odds On had been written in a style similar to Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Michael Crichton’s very first Technothriller started with a name, at first he hadn’t known what the novel would be about, but the title intrigued him, The Andromeda Strain (Q&A). The story encompassed real-life scientific concerns about satellites falling to Earth creating mysterious diseases and deaths. Finally, after many novels and even his own autobiography, Michael Crichton began to read many books about dinosaurs, causing him to become like his character in Jurassic Park, Tim. At first he barely knew anything about dinosaurs, but he was soon captivated. Crichton decided it would be a great novel to write about, but he had many challenges in creating the story. The first problem was to make it believable, a skill which Crichton had mastered in many of his previous novels. A radical paleobiologist made Crichton’s novel possible in 1985 with one belief: dinosaur DNA could be inserted into a cell nucleus and scientists could provide a yoke and eggshell in which dinosaurs could hatch in the present day. That, however, brought up another problem. Where would the genetic material come from? Scientists hypothesized that if prehistoric mosquitos were to be trapped in amber and the amber was to suddenly harden, whatever DNA the mosquito had collected would be preserved. This caused a dramatic scramble of scientific discoveries. The second problem was finding a theme for the novel, which is where Chaos theory came in. The Chaos theory “maintains that there is always a certain level of unpredictability in complex systems,” (Aaseng 62). The third and final problem in the creation of Jurassic Park was its main character. At first Crichton wanted to have the story be told through the eyes of the small boy, Tim. However, adult critics hated it because they couldn’t relate to such a young character, so Michael changed it to the point of view of the paleontologist, Dr. Alan Grant. But even though it was through Grant’s eyes, the child still remained in the story as Michael. After the novel was published in 1990, it became so popular that it was quickly in the hands of Hollywood. Through the wonders of Hollywood, Jurassic Park caused Michael Crichton to become one of the most widely known authors in the world.
Jurassic Park takes place in many different locations, but mainly in “those final two days in August 1989 on a remote island off the west coast of Costa Rica,” (Crichton xii). Main characters Alan Grant, a forty-year-old paleontologist, and Ellie Sattler, also a paleontologist, are joined by many other scientists and mathematicians prompted to see Jurassic Park after a procomsognathus is discovered attacking a young girl on a beach. A procomsognathus, or compy for short, was a small scavenger and found to be one of the tiniest and earliest dinosaurs of the Jurassic era. Jurassic Park was created by a seventy-seven year old John Hammond as a park for children. Hammond, though intelligent, makes quite a few mistakes. Those mistakes created a sudden twist to the lovely Jurassic Park, the point at which Crichton’s theme for the novel emerges. Alan Grant is invited to Jurassic Park because it is inhabited by extinct creatures-dinosaurs. The dinosaur zoo appears perfectly safe with electrified fences and separated creatures…until something goes wrong. Dennis Nedry, a computer specialist working in the control room at Jurassic Park, is extremely greedy and treacherous. His love for money is noticeably larger than his ability to escape alive. Nedry, after turning off all security systems and stealing precious dinosaur DNA, is unexpectedly killed by a poisonous dilophosaurus. “’Dilophosaurus,’…‘is one of the earliest carnivorous dinosaurs. Scientists thought their jaw muscles were too weak to kill prey, and imagined they were primarily scavengers. But now we know they are poisonous,” (Crichton 142). At the same time, children Tim and Lex Murphy, Alan Grant, and many others are passing by the most dangerous part of the Jurassic Park tour: The T-Rex section. A horrific climax ensues as the tyrannosaur breaks through the un-electrified fences and attacks the land Cruisers. At the end of the attack, Tim and Lex are rendered unconscious, and Grant is left to find them. Although the climax of their journey through Jurassic Park is over, their adventure has just begun. Velociraptors, some of the most intelligent dinosaurs that ever existed, have escaped their holding units. Not only that, but they have discovered how to reproduce. As the clock ticks and the population grows, Alan Grant and the Murphys race against time to make things right. At the same time, on his deathbed after a velociraptor attack, mathematician Ian Malcolm speaks of the Chaos theory and how, no matter what John Hammond thinks, the park can never be truly and lastingly safe. In conclusion, it is found that the procomsognathus that supposedly attacked the young girl wasn’t a compy at all. It was a velociraptor, leading to the decision to destroy the park, thereby preventing any more dinosaurs to be created. Many questions are left unanswered as Michael Crichton ends this amazing Technothriller with yet another problem. “’None of us is going anywhere, Dr. Grant’ Guitierrez said, smiling. And then he turned, and walked back toward the entrance of the hotel,” (Crichton 399).
The one connection between Michael Crichton’s life and Jurassic Park isn’t immediately obvious. In fact, the only way to discover the connection is to look deeper into the life of Crichton. In doing so, similarities between Tim and Crichton emerge. Michael Crichton wanted to write Jurassic Park through the eyes of Tim Murphy is because Tim is actually Michael. However, Michael and Tim don’t have the same obsessions. Crichton loves to write books, while Tim loves and knows everything there is to know about dinosaurs. Likewise, Tim hasn’t experienced the same things with his father that Michael had to endure with John Henderson. “John Henderson had a nasty streak that permanently embittered Michael toward him. In Travels, Michael alludes to some physical and mental abuse inflicted by his father.” It is never said in Jurassic Park that Tim was ever abused by his father. In fact, Tim’s relationship with his father is only briefly mentioned. But with just those few pages it becomes clear that his father doesn’t understand his love for dinosaurs just as John Henderson never understood Crichton’s love for writing novels. Yes, Henderson was indeed a journalist, but he never had the kind of passion for fiction that Michael had. Crichton believed that his father and he never had an easy time together no matter how old they were. “We had never been the classic boy and his dad,” Crichton believed (Aaseng 14). Tim Murphy also struggled with the conflicting passions that he and his father had. “’Dad says dinosaurs are really stupid, ’Lex said. ‘He says Tim should get out in the air and play more sports.’” (Crichton 93). Tim goes on to relate the story of a trip to the museum, where his knowledge of dinosaurs both confuses and bores his father, who then turns his attention to an upcoming Mets game. Set aside from the connection of Tim and Crichton, there is also another small connection, that of John Henderson and John Hammond. In this case, John Hammond was the father that Crichton never had. Hammond had the same obsessions that Tim had, didn’t hurt Tim physically or mentally, and cared for him. Although Hammond is the grandfather of Lex and Tim, he certainly conveys what Crichton had really desired of Henderson.
In conclusion, as dinosaurs revolved in Tim’s head, great works of literature evolved in Michael Crichton’s. This, and many other reasons, made Michael Crichton one of the best authors in modern history. This literary voice was silenced when Michael Crichton died of cancer on November 4, 2008. For his fans he will always be the little medical student who plagiarized George Orwell just as his character Tim will always be the little boy lucky and obsessed enough to see a tyrannosaurus. Michael Crichton and Tim both had difficult relationships with their fathers. As parallel characters, Both Tim and Michael Crichton were able to overcome that obstacle. Even though Michael Crichton had his troubles with his father John Henderson, he followed his own passions and created some of the best novels of all time. Tim Murphy may have just been a small kid in a big park, but he managed to stay smart and stay alive through all the craziness going on. Jurassic Park is definitely one of Michael Crichton’s best novels and one of the most highly suggested. And who knows? Based on the scientific discoveries these days and the ideas given by Michael Crichton, there may be dinosaurs roaming the Earth again in the near future.