Synopsis of Jurassic Park

by Michael Crichton, Ballentine Books, 1990

Jurassic Park is based on the premise of scientists successfully extracting dinosaur DNA from the thorax of preserved prehistoric mosquitoes, cloning it, and recreating and breeding a variety of dinosaurs to roam a for-profit theme park. People are awed by the accomplishment until something goes horribly wrong. The novel prompts one to explore the motives and responsibility for the experiment, as well as the consequences.

The story opens in a remote village of Costa Rica. Several individuals, in separate incidents, have sustained horrible injuries by what one of the victims calls a "raptor". As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that the velociraptor is one of the most vicious, and therefore dangerous, of the dinosaurs inhabiting the tiny country, and the animals are part of a project that is the brainchild of John Alfred Hammond, a billionaire capitalist.

John Hammond had started with the idea of developing "consumer biologicals" which involved duplicating rare or genetically engineered animals for a profit. Between 1983 and 1985 he had raised $870 million from investors to fund his proposed corporation, International Genetic Technologies, Inc. All the while, he insisted on absolute secrecy about the project. What Hammond, through his researchers, had done was to develop what he called, "the most advanced amusement park in the world, combining the latest in electronic and biological technologies." To make his project more cost efficient, Hammond used as few personnel as possible in the park, investing instead in computer technology and automation wherever possible. In the park the dinosaurs, creatures recreated through genetic engineering, roamed in a setting meant to be opened to all the world to visit -- for a substantial price.

Hammond's amusement park never makes a public opening, as events get out of hand during a visit by private parties. The scientists' cloned and newly created life forms --the dinosaurs-- get out of control, inflicting gruesome and sometimes deadly injuries on the visitors. Scientists find they are unable to predict the behaviors, abilities, and adaptations of their creations. As the novel ends, many of the visitors to the park have died. What is so disturbing to the survivors and investigators is the evidence that some of the creatures have developed the ability to reproduce and to survive outside of the park setting.