Westworld, Jurassic Park creator Michael Crichton’s 1993 plea to science

Friday, October 14, 2016
Michael Crichton—the science fiction writer who created Jurassic Park, Westworld (reborn this fall as a critically acclaimed HBO series) and other tales of tech gone awry—bristled at suggestions his work was “anti-science.”

Michael Crichton in 2002
Photo: Jon Chase / Harvard News Office
(Click for audio)
On a 1993 return to Chicago, where he was born, he addressed that criticism.

Before an audience at the Field Museum, he talked about the challenges of representing technology in fiction:

“My work has been critical of science in a variety of ways ever since I began. … You can either see the technology of the future as beneficial and wonderful, which often doesn’t make a very interesting story; or you can see it as hazardous and dangerous, which is what I tended to focus on.”

But he also made clear his interest in the dystopian ran deeper than just the urge to tell a good tale.

He said he had “no hope” government could serve as a watchdog over advances in biotechnology, which he said was “changing every two minutes.”

He added: “My wish would be for the scientists themselves to exercise caution.”

Crichton, who died in 2008, refused to grant interviews with reporters during that 1993 visit. But the museum made audio of his lecture available for broadcast.

And guess who saved it?

So here’s Michael Crichton at Chicago’s Field Museum on Aug. 21, 1993.

Enjoy this? Check out 1997 audio of American Museum of Natural History associate curator Rob DeSalle and then-Science News associate editor David Lindley discussing their book, The Science of Jurassic Park and The Lost World; Or, How to Build a Dinosaur.

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