Book Review: Footprints of Thunder

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When I was growing up I used to watch lots of old, cheesy monster movies. None of them are what I would call classic cinema, but many fell into the "so bad it's almost good" category. The same could be said of James David's novel Footprints of Thunder.

As in many B-movies, much is made of the "science" in Footprints of Thunder, but the selling point of the book is that it features dinosaurs terrorizing hapless humans. In David's yarn nuclear bomb tests created a sort of time ripple that caused parts of the Cretaceous world to be transported to the present (and vice versa). This placed dinosaurs in the middle of cities and just outside suburban developments.

The effect David describes is said to have occurred world-over, but he focuses on several groups of people in the United States. There is a family that has to hitch a ride on the back of a swimming Apatosaurus, scientists who want to document the anomaly, an elderly woman who tames an Iguanodon, a group of teenage boys out in the woods, and a few others. They are all connected to each other in one way or another and most come face-to-face with dinosaurs. Unfortunately the experience of those transported back to the Cretaceous is not recorded.

It can be difficult to visualize the cast of dinosaurs David employs. In some cases he provides a name, which helps, but in others he briefly describes the tail, legs, and teeth of the animals. This is made all the more complicated by the fact that David ascribes a bony frill or neck collar to almost every dinosaur, even theropods. I suppose an argument could be made that if we were being chased by something like Saurophaganax or Torvosaurus you would not notice much other than the gaping maws coming at you, but more careful description of the dinosaurs would have certainly improved the book.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Footprints of Thunder is that it is a short, light read. It might not be the best bit of dino fiction ever written, but it is entertaining enough to spend a few hours on. If you really like it you can even check out the recently-released sequel, Thunder of Time. I can only hope that David did a little more research on dinosaurs for the second book.

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