Just a bit of housekeeping: I’ll be away next week, so this blog will see a brief hiatus of indeterminate but hopefully not overly long length. Check back in a while for more trivia goodness, though!
Final Jeopardy! category: BESTSELLING AUTHORS (23-02-2003)
FJ! Clue: In 2000 this writer, with more than 100 million copies of novels in print, had a new species of dinosaur named for him
The gist: He took a hallowed place among such personalities as Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, and numerous cast members from the film adaptation of his Jurassic Park.
Author Michael Crichton, known for science-fiction fare like The Andromeda Strain, Sphere, and many others – including, of course, Jurassic Park (which has already been discussed a few times on this blog – it’s hard these days to talk about dinosaurs without it coming up). In case you’re unfamiliar with the story of the latter, here’s a brief summary: scientists manage to clone dinosaurs from DNA extracted from an ancient amber-encased mosquito plus frog blood; a businessman sets up an amusement park/zoo; Newman from Seinfeld messes with the security systems; humans become dino dinner. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it’s rightfully considered a classic for its fast-paced action, revolutionary animatronics, and the best laugh in the history of cinema, even if the scientific view of dinosaurs has come a long way since then. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do, even if only because it’s in 44 Jeopardy! clues in the J!Archive.
As for Mr. Crichton’s namesake dinosaur genus, Crichtonsaurus was a species of ankylosaur (one of the low-to-the-ground heavily armoured dinos) that lived, perhaps ironically, in the late Cretaceous period, not the Jurassic (ankylosaurs also didn’t appear in the film Jurassic Park, although they did appear in the sequels The Lost World and Jurassic Park III). The type species for the genus, Crichtonsaurus bohlini, is also named for pioneering palaeontologist Birger Bohlini, whose work extended beyond dinosaurs to prehistoric mammals – he was part of the main team that worked on the Peking Man fossils of Homo erectus.
The clue: This clue (and this category) basically gives you three pieces of information: it’s a male (“named for him”), he’s wildly successful, and he’s associated with dinosaurs. Surely the first thing anyone will think of given those prompts is the author of Jurassic Park – who else is both famous enough to be the answer and so strongly linked with dinosaurs in the public imagination? That’s the easy part; the hard part, if hard it can be called, is knowing who wrote that novel – which I suspect is among the easier literature FJ! clues Jeopardy!’s given
In Jeopardy!: Such a prolific writer of nerdy-but-also-mainstream fare is prime fodder for Jeopardy!, and Mr. Crichton appears in a healthy 44 regular and two FJ! clues in the J!Archive, with Jurassic Park in 17 of them. Its sequel The Lost World appears in only 6 – but remember that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a book by the same title, with a similar plot, in 1912. The Andromeda Strain is in a respectable 12, as well. Jurassic Park and Andromeda Strain are definitely the two of his books to know, but Rising Sun (a murder mystery set in the HQ of a Japanese company) and Congo (about diamond mining and more mysterious deaths) appear in four each, and Disclosure (about a sexual harassment lawsuit in a tech company) in three.