I finally read the iconic dinosaur book by Michael Crichton. The book was very similar to the movie, closer than any other movie I’ve seen. In many ways the book reads as if it was written with the idea of turning it into a movie in mind. The plot is straightforward: rich old guy hires scientists to recreate dinosaurs from DNA preserved in fossils, then the dinosaurs get loose and eat people.
The science fiction idea than spawned the book is grand. Recreating dinosaurs! Real dinosaurs! That people can be see and watch and eventually run screaming from. The other part of the book, the horror movie bolt on plot, is naturally fit for a movie.
Surprisingly there isn’t much more to the book than what’s in the movie. And unfortunately the worst parts of the movie are the author’s invention. The ‘mathematician’ character, spouting ridiculous idea that chaos theory proves everything will go wrong and fall apart is all the author’s. Also, the annoying younger sister who alternates between fear, whining, and suicidal stupidity is all Crichton. She’s written worse in the book, the other characters mock whatever she has to say and keep telling her to shut up. The out of nowhere scene in the movie where she pops up as a computer system expert looks added in an attempt to give her character a positive side.
When the book was written, it was plausible to speculate that fossils millions of years old would contain bits of DNA. As it turns out, DNA degrades over hundreds of thousands of years, and no DNA has been recovered from samples millions of years old. In fact, chemical studies predict that DNA will degrade at such a rate that no original DNA remains in samples millions of years old. Today, alas, it seems unlikely that dinosaur DNA sequences will ever be recovered.