The Lost World: Jurassic Park was the sequel following the success of Jurassic Park. But the book couldn’t have happened without Ian Malcolm.
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park was a literary phenomenon that took the world by storm, especially after its film adaptation, directed by Stephen Spielberg, was released in 1993. That said, there were some differences that had made the book and film as different as they were similar. One of the biggest changes was the film’s decision to let one of its main protagonists, Ian Malcolm, survive his excursion to Jurassic Park. When the success of the film reached massive levels, a sequel was released two years later by Crichton titled The Lost World. But much like its film sequel, this novel wouldn’t have existed without Malcolm.
In the film, Malcolm gets sent to yet another island filled with dinosaurs to rescue a close colleague. Many of the main story beats remained intact from the book to the film, but for the most part, this story remained its own. That said, it was crucial for Malcolm to return as, according to Crichton, “…Malcolm came back because I needed him.” That was because he was to serve as the ironic commentator due to his background as a chaos theorist. But Malcolm’s return from the dead, said to have been caused by his injuries from a T-Rex attack, was also an homage to Sherlock Holmes’ miraculous return from death in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.
Initially, The Lost World felt like a pipe dream as Crichton had no interest in making a sequel to his story. However, logically this would make sense as a story as tight-knit as Jurassic Park would struggle to find a narrative that offered just enough newness without totally being derailed from the original’s premise and themes. That was partly why Malcolm was such a crucial factor, as he inadvertently served as an avatar for Crichton, who initially had no interest in hopping back to the world of dinosaurs but felt compelled to by outside influences.
Like the film, Ian Malcolm remained the grounded foil for the entire story. He tried to remind those around him that even though dinosaurs could be awe-inspiring creatures, they were also wild and, by rights, shouldn’t exist. That helped his wariness, which occurred in the scene with the infant T-Rex. In the film, the injured animal was being nursed to help, much to Malcolm’s chagrin. But in the book, he suggested killing the creature as it wouldn’t survive in the wild. There was a cold, calculating quality to Malcolm that was more prevalent in the books and, frankly, needed as he interacted with others who didn’t know what he had experienced.
The novel version of Jurassic Park: The Lost World was a serviceable sequel that didn’t get nearly as much praise as its predecessor, just like the film. Critics claimed that the book was entertaining as ever, but it lacked the narrative impact that the original had. Nevertheless, the dinosaur action and character moments still managed to impress. The same could be said for the film, which had similar criticisms but also suffered from a sense of being too formulaic.
Ultimately, The Lost World was a sequel that didn’t need to happen but has since served as a crucial building block for what has now become a multi-billion dollar franchise. But that couldn’t have been possible without Crichton bringing back Malcolm, a character who would have preferred to stay away from the franchise altogether. Nevertheless, for all of its criticism, The Lost World and Malcolm’s return proved that even if a story like this wasn’t necessary, it’s still a fun ride that further added to the lore of dinosaurs, corporate espionage and ethics.