CONCEPTION OF THE CENTURY
My name is John Parker Hammond. I was born on March 14, 1928. What follows is a record of certain events in which I took part between the years 1980 and 1997, on an island I will call… Site B. Site B was not to be a theme park, but a research station. This was where we did the real work.
By 1989, International Genetic Technologies had succeeded in their designs to genetically recreate the dinosaurs. It was an unprecedented accomplishment, the pinnacle of 20th century science; a work to rank with the achievements of Galileo or Einstein.
But it was not all so easy or so simple, as it appeared. One seldom hears the true history of such events. What happened at the place, where the world changed? How it began? What were the reasons? What was the cost?
Anne chuckled to herself. She found the overly mysterious introduction amusing. She continued reading.
A Nobel Prize or a financial empire awaits somewhere in a darkened room, in a dirty, derelict building, somewhere in the Pacific. It was the flowering of an ambition born fifty years ago. Fifty years struggle come to this.
“Whatever that means,” Anne said aloud.
When I was little I dreamed of a time when the entire world was covered by an ancient forest. Great hunters stalked in the cool darkness, among the silent, huge columnar trees – oaks and sequoias.
I left home at fifteen, with the rather romantic idea of seeking my fortune. I remember the train ride south; in my best clothes, eating an apple, the entire world before me. When I came to London I had neither fortune, nor education nor connections – nothing. The mysterious John Hammond: shady investor, multimillionaire, jovial mad scientist.
Anne was surprised to find that she was honestly drawn in by Hammond’s account. She found it very personal and interesting. She read the next paragraph.
An idea brought me awake one morning in New York, I almost didn’t write it down. What if a mosquito sucked the blood of a dinosaur, one hundred million years ago? The insect is then covered in tree sap which, over the millennia, becomes amber. The insect is preserved, perfectly. But you see, and here’s the clever part, wouldn’t the dinosaur blood be preserved as well? The blood holds DNA, a tiny spiral of genetic code. Abracadabra!
Anne laughed aloud. She had heard various claims that dinosaurs could be brought back to life in this fashion, but no one had succeeded. It sounded to her like Hammond was just jumping on the bandwagon.
Sunlight angled down through the dusty air in Norman’s office and I leaned against a solid oak table, as I outlined my plans for International Genetic Technologies. The first task was genetic recovery: acquiring Jurassic or Cretaceous amber, extracting preserved DNA and reassembling the complete sequences. “Bringing it up the well” we called it. I spared no expense, permitted no failures. If we succeeded, the InGen technology would be historic. We were planning to conquer time’s power over life, its power to extinguish and erase. It would change all our lives, as profoundly, as irrevocably as the atomic bomb.
The phone suddenly rang. Anne checked the page number she was on, then closed the book and set it down on the desk. She turned slightly and picked up the phone.
“Hey Anne, it’s Bob.”
“Bob, hey, what’s up?” Anne said enthusiastically.
“Carlos just called me and a few of the other head employees. He’s organizing a meeting today, and I can assume you won’t be there.”
“You assume right,” Anne replied. “What’s gonna happen?”
“Oh, the usual rot; work schedule changes, cuisine switch-ups, and… Carlos is finally going to announce who’s getting the pay-rises this month. And I just wanted to let you know I’ll be vouching for you there.”
A sense of hope came over Anne. “Thanks Bob. You’re the best, really.”
“Heh, don’t say that until you get the pay-rise.”
“I know you’ll do your best. Goodbye Bob.”
She placed the phone back on the receiver. It was about time Carlos gave her this payrise. He’d promised it nearly a month ago. Turning back around, she picked up the book, flipped back to her page, and continued reading.
Isla Sorna. Costa Rica lay to the east, a quiet neighbour; to the west open water, and the shipping lanes of the Pacific. 1981. I stumbled out of the helicopter, already beginning to sweat and looked around at the lush forest, the wet leaves. A forest this wild, this unknown has not been seen by any human since the great hunters of the early Pliocene. The forest smelled of wet leaves, damp earth, rotting wood. Cameras and seismic instruments in yellow crates; they set them in the dust as the helicopter rose. A few weeks after we landed, we went to the summit to put up a crude satellite link. We went by helicopter. Young technicians scrambled to set up the dish as the wind howled. High speed uplink – state of the art.
Anne yawned and stretched her arms up over her head, the book in her left hand. She was finding that she was growing bored of the memoir; it sounded to her like a load of mystical tales and fantasy.
She went to set the book down, but stopped short. She couldn’t understand it, but she felt as though something was telling her to keep reading. She had no idea why; she was bored out of her mind, and there were plenty of other things she could be doing today. Things she didn’t get to do for days at a time.
But… she picked the book back up, opened it, and continued.
In May the rains came, the smell of the jungle was everywhere. The jungle canopy hung over us, there was an utter silence. Far away I could hear a jeep engine idling. InGen standard safari vehicle – state of the art. As I journeyed south along the coast, the air grew moist and heavy. Metal and concrete lay rotting in the sun and the rain.
A failed coffee plantation of the 1860s. Fields were marked out by stone walls, and to the west, the ruins of the plantation house still stand. We took a shortcut south to reach the site, west along the stream until a tall tree shows itself, with a cluster of boulders at its base. Then walk northward, until the path appears. The buildings followed a scheme I only vaguely understood, marking seasons in the lunar year, and the movement of the stars.
The sky at noon was like nothing in Europe; hot, tropical, a new world. On the plain the heat was extraordinary, like a solid wall. I stepped out of the jeep and stretched my legs. The two guards attended to the wheel and just for an instant I stood alone, unprotected in the Jurassic wilderness. I felt the air currents around me, heard a single tree rustle. I stood on the lip of the cliff, the wind blowing my hair. It might have been a morning in the