Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
Alfred A. Knopf, November, 1990
“You know what’s wrong with scientific power? It’s a form of inherited wealth. And you know what assholes congenitally rich people are.”
I would tell you what year it is, but you wouldn’t believe me. Same goes for the rest of it but my gut says to spill it anyway. Maybe there are others like me. Maybe I am as crazy as everyone wants me to believe.
“Living systems are never in equilibrium. They are inherently unstable. They may seem stable, but they’re not. Everything is moving and changing. In a sense, everything is on the edge of collapse.”
Hard to be certain when it really began other than the first time I heard the rumors. It was a bizarre tale of a grand experiment said to have started some 50 odd years prior. Convenient, I thought. The timing providing an adequate window to account for the perfecting of cloning processes and for the aging of its only known famous subject to date, Mr. Ernest Hemingway II.
The rumors, as I remember it, started just months before the release of a new novel, The Future Is Now.
Suspending all logic—the least of which was the not-so-minor detail that cloning was against the law—I decided to go with it, for the sake of argument, ever the scientist-turned-journalist. First, I reread The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, the Nick Adams stories and more, all so I could become reacquainted intimately with Hemingway’s prose and unique voice. Again, I reiterate that, for the purpose of refuting the rumors, I felt I needed to approach things scientifically. I forced myself to suspend disbelief over the obvious flaws in logic so that I could, like a good journalist-turned-scientist, examine all clues. I would add, “without bias,” but realistically, how could I or anyone else ignore a constant of nature-versus-nurture in the equation? I mean, really, where did this shit come from and who could possibly believe it?
“In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought.”
In my op-ed in the Times, I faced the elephant in the room. If Ernest Hemingway had been cloned, then what was the result but only a replica in physical appearance only? Even with the understanding that the clone would be predisposed to more than just physical attributes. But what role did genetic mapping play in nurturing talent? Whereas an individual has a genetic predisposition to diabetes or cancer, how much of a role can genetics play in not only determining talent but also instilling the required passion and work ethic to nurture it to fruition?
“Whatever it is you seek, you have to put in the time, the practice, the effort. You must give up a lot to get it. It has to be very important to you. And once you have attained it, it is your power. It can’t be given away: it resides in you. It is literally the result of your discipline.”
I also throw out a lob, or so I think, when I ask, when do we get to see this Papa clone anyway? How old is he now? Does he own any guns?
I plow through The Future Is Now, the new novel that, as the rumors went, was said to have been written by Hemingway Deux. Or else one of Hemingway’s many clones. The suspension of logic requires that I do not discount the idea that there could be many new Hemingway Heroes out there, each of them churning and editing, churning and editing, and editing and editing. Publishing. This was a gold mine.
As it was, The Future Is Now was published under the pseudonym, E. M. Henry. The always on it conspiracy theorists decoded the first two initials within minutes of the press release. Ernest Miller Hemingway, also pointing out that “Henry” was clearly a reference to Frederick Henry, the protagonist in A Farewell to Arms. The publishing company was an unknown upstart, K. West, located in Oak Park, Illinois. This was their first novel.
Rolling your eyes, right? I sure as hell did. To make matters worse, I have to say that I found The Future Is Now to be an absolute mess of a novel, a ragged attempt at capturing efficient brilliance. Only, it was a complete hatched job. Hollow. Not that my opinion or stature as a reviewer for the Times did anything to halt the overnight sensation that was surely carried by the morbid curiosity of reading a novel by a Hemingway clone. The Future is Now shot to Number 1. And shortly thereafter, the nasty emails started. Deliveries too. Who the hell was I to question the The Clone or call his work amateurish-times-two? It would be two years after the publication of my Future review and two more successfully received Hemingway II books later before I would be vindicated when the dumb hoax was finally revealed through sheer sloppy practices at K. West.
Life returned to relative normalcy after that, for all of a split second.
The subject of the email was, “When George Breckenridge Met Michael Crichton.” Immediate attention getter if only because of the absurdity. Although I knew who Michael Crichton was, historically, there was obviously no way I could have ever met the great author who had been deceased for well over 100 years prior to my birth. At first, I was afraid to click on the movie file attached for fear of the cantor virus, but I could not help myself.
And there I was (or a dead ringer of me anyway) holding what appeared to be a first edition copy of Jurassic Park as I approached a table where a man—who looked very much like the Michael Crichton I had seen in pictures—was signing copies of the same novel. I watched the short movie unfold and felt my palms getting sweaty and my heart beating faster. It felt like it was happening in slow motion, but building. I thought of the scene in the old classic Spielberg film version of the book I had in my hand where the sound and feel of a Tyrannosaurus rex approaching in the not far enough distance generates a wonderful world of dread for all senses.
As I approach the table, the camera follows me shakily as if it were being held by someone directly behind me only I do not turn around to see who that is. Now directly in front of me, looking at me and into the camera, the apparent Michael Crichton asks me my name, and I say, “George Breckenridge. I am a huge fan, Mr. Crichton and Jurassic Park was even beyond my already-elevated expectations!”
I feel my mouth opening as the author opens my book and writes, “George, Thanks for your support. Always watch out for the dinosaurs. Michael Crichton.”
As I am walking away, I turn to the camera and look directly into it.
At this point, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was me. Or some handsome variation thereof.