Book Review: The Awesome Short Stories of "Dinosaurs" | Science | Smithsonian

Book Review: The Awesome Short Stories of "Dinosaurs"

So you have read Jurassic Park and The Lost World but are hungry for more dino-fiction. What else is there to read? There is plenty of fiction that features dinosaurs but, truth be told, much of it is not very good. (The time-traveling big game hunter genre has been worn a bit thin.) Thankfully the...

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Dinosaurs, edited by Martin Greenberg.


So you have read Jurassic Park and The Lost World but are hungry for more dino-fiction. What else is there to read? There is plenty of fiction that features dinosaurs but, truth be told, much of it is not very good. (The time-traveling big game hunter genre has been worn a bit thin.) Thankfully there is at least one exception: a compilation of short stories by some of the best modern science fiction writers simply called Dinosaurs.

The stories in Dinosaurs do not follow the typical "humans imperiled by prehistoric beasts" story arc. Each is unique, and many of the time-travel tales contain ingenious twists. Arthur C. Clarke's "Time's Arrow", for example, features scientists who unintentionally make a contribution to the fossil record. Even more original is Robert J. Sawyer's "Just Like Old Times" which places the mind of a serial killer inside a Tyrannosaurus rex due to meet extinction (or not).

Other stories explore the childhood wish to become a dinosaur. This transformation can be made boring if everyone else is doing it, as in Pat Cadigan's "Dino Trend", or be absolutely terrifying, like what happens to the typist April in Michelle Sagara's "Shadow of a Change." Both are fascinating perspectives on what becoming a dinosaur might be like. Other notable contributions include Ray Bradbury's tale of a forlorn living dinosaur ("The Fog Horn"), Poul Anderson's contemplation of our own extinction ("Wildcat"), and Sharon Faber's tribute to the bone hunters of the 19th century ("The Last Thunder Horse West of the Mississippi").

Not all the stories will be surefire hits with every reader, but the collection is diverse enough that there's something for every stripe of dino fan. Whether you prefer action-packed yarns about dinosaur hunting or prefer more fanciful stories about our relationship to ancient life, it's a good bet you will find something to like. It may not be the best fiction ever written, but for a dinosaur fan this collection is about as good as it gets.
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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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