This is not surprising in speculative fiction. Science fiction has always extrapolated what is possible based on the science of the time and where that science could imaginatively take us. Sometimes writers are right; sometimes they are very wrong. It’s fun when its the former. Moon visits. Robots. Smart phones. The internet(s). All are realities that were once mere science fiction.
Then we come to cloning—and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. A bit about it in case you don’t know:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Wonderful . . . powerful.”—The Washington Post Book World
An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.
Until something goes wrong. . . .
In Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton taps all his mesmerizing talent and scientific brilliance to create his most electrifying technothriller.
“Frighteningly real . . . compelling . . . It’ll keep you riveted.”—The Detroit News
“Crichton’s dinosaurs are genuinely frightening.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Full of suspense.”—The New York Times Book Review
Jurassic Park is one of the best examples of scary science fiction that could be all too real one day. In the movie adaptation, Dr. Ian Malcolm sums up the scary possibilities: “God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs.” Perhaps not dinosaurs, man is trying to create woolly mammoths as we speak.
Did the mammoth have its shot and nature selected it not to survive? Are we wise in trying to bring back a species that has been extinct? Philosophical and ethics meanderings notwithstanding, scientists are planning on cloning a woolly mammoth, a creature that has been largely extinct for 10,000 years with the exception of an isolated community that has been gone for almost 4,000 years.
It is not easy to do this. It requires scientists locating living woolly mammoth cells and the DNA needed within. They hunt for that DNA in permafrost, a quest that has horrible odds of succeeding. But if it does… it could mean the woolly mammoth would live again. That’s not all. Korean scientists have been on record as saying if they find living genetic material for any extinct animal, they will attempt to clone it back to reality.
It begs the question. Could there be living dinosaur cells in the world that could lead to a return similarly seen in Jurassic Park? Could Australian billionaire Clive Palmer pull it off?
Could science fiction lead to a very real reality?
And if so, should we do it?
I think many of us need a re-read of Jurassic Park….