Tag: Dinosaurs!

Top 5 Coolest Novels Featuring Dinosaurs (That Aren’t ‘Jurassic Park’)

Dinosaurs are some of the coolest creatures to have ever lived. For generations, these extinct beasts have been inspiring us through scientific discoveries, artwork, and museum constructions. It’s no surprise dinosaurs have made a huge splash in popular culture, with blockbuster films like Jurassic Parktelevision shows such as Primeval, and video games such as Dino Crisisshowcasing these almost mythical creatures for our viewing pleasure. But dinosaurs have made their mark in books too and not just scientific ones but fiction too. These are some of the best series centered around dinosaurs that aren’t Jurassic Park.

 

5. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

A tyrannosaurs rex pair wander through a prehistoric landscape, as pterodactyls fly overhead

Image Via Amazon

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, is a classic of dinosaur literature. The novel concerns an expedition into a hidden South American plateau where prehistoric creatures such as dinosaurs survive. The group must brave the perils of the titular lost world, fighting off hostile dinosaurs, dealing with the deadly terrain, and even contending with a group of primitive ape-like humanoids. Although there are many problems with this books not least the racist attitudes and the out of date depictions of the animal, the book remains a must-read for dinosaur fans and is extremely exciting in parts, especially the dinosaurs’ deadly attacks on the expedition party.

 

4. Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury 

 

A fearsome tyrannosaurs stomps its way through a swamp, surrounded by small pterodactyls

Image Via Goodreads

Dinosaur Tales by dinosaur enthusiast Ray Bradbury contains some seminal pulp works by the renowned author. The work contains stories about dinosaurs he’s written over the years, such as The Fog Horn, Tyrannosaurus rex, and the famous The Sound of Thunder. Each story is a great piece, science fiction classics in their own right and each centered around dinosaurs in some way. The best of the collection is The Sound of Thunder, telling about the consequences of time travel and giving a name to the ‘butterfly effect’ but the others are well worth reading for any dinosaur fan.

3. The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan

 

A knight sitting on the back of a dinosaur

Image Via Goodreads

 

The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan is described by George R.R. Martin as “a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones. And he’s correct. The series takes place in a world based on the 14th century Middle Ages except for the presence of domesticated dinosaurs! Dinosaurs take the place of domesticated animals, with triceratops cavalry, tyrannosaur mounts, and apatosaurus beasts of burden. Its a great concept, a medieval world full of action and intrigue but with dinosaurs involved!

 

2. Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

 

A trio of raptors do battle against the back of prehistoric landscape

Image Via Goodreads

Raptor Red is a very unique novel. Instead of a human protagonist, the story unfolds through the eyes of a dinosaur. Seen through the eyes of a female raptor called Red, the novel focuses on her journey through the harsh prehistoric landscape. Although you may think it difficult to connect with an animal, much less a dinosaur, this book makes you really feel for Red’s struggle for survival in the unforgiving prehistoric wilderness. It’s a unique book and one any dinosaur fan should be checking out.

 

1. Dinotopia by James Gurney

 

A Diplodocus faces off against a tyrannosaur rex

Image Via Goodreads

Created by illustrator and writer James Gurney, Dinotopia is a series set in the titular Dinotopia, inhabited by shipwrecked humans and sentient dinosaurs living side by side. Creating a beautiful, fully-realized world, Dinotopia paints a picture of a true paradise, with many things to explore such as great caverns, a huge reef, deserts, and towering mountains. Each book has a different protagonist, focusing on such things such as a pterodactyl riding academy and getting lost in the wilds of Dinotopia. Although the books are aimed at young adult readers, they contain great world building elements to appease young and old alike.

 

 

Featured Image Via Goodreads

 

‘Jurassic Park’: Book Vs Film

Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park was first published in the year 1990, and quickly shot up the best seller list, becoming Crichton’s best known book. It was adapted into a blockbuster film in 1993, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film also became a huge hit but was a very different beast to the novel, both in terms of theme and characterization. Readers are often surprised when going back to the original book and finding how different the book was before making the transition to the big screen. While both works are classics of their genres, this piece will showcase the differences between the two, showing how different they are even if they share the same characters, plotline, and principal ideas.

 

The cover of the Jurassic Park novel by Michael Crichton
Image Via MichaelCrichton.com

 

The book’s content is for lack of a better word not family friendly. While the film has several disturbing or scary sequences (such as the Velociraptor scene in the kitchen), it was given a much more whimsical spin thanks to Spielberg’s involvement. The novel, however, features numerous violent, gruesome scenes that are not for the faint of heart. A straight adaptation of the novel would certainly have been an R rating at the very least.

The thematic heart of the novel is also much more of a cold, science fiction thriller, in the vein of Crichton’s earlier works such as The Andromeda Strain. The dinosaurs are utilized to explore the themes of chaos theory and challenges the readers to think about the questions raised. Many pages are devoted to the science behind the story, including numerous sequences where Ian Malcolm (played by the marvelous Jeff Goldblum in the film) waxes philosophical about the dangers of creating dinosaurs. In contrast, the movie is lighter, being a mostly family-friendly adventure film that touches on these themes but does not devote the soul of its work to them.

 

A few of the original Jurassic Park characters: Alan Grant (Sam Neil), Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards), and Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy)
Image Via Business Insider

 

The characters in the book also underwent significant changes between the page and screen. The novel’s cast fit the colder vibe Crichton is aiming for, a more intellectual experience than an emotional one. They often speak in science jargon, appraising the situation in these terms, always matter of fact and to the point even in stressful situations (like being hunted down by the Tyrannosaurus when the containment system fails). Some characters only undergo small changes, such as Dr. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler, who remain palaeontologists brought in to consultant on John Hammond’s park.

Hammond himself is a different character altogether. In the film he is a grandfatherly type, misguided but ultimately genuine in his desire to create a dinosaur park, Hammond in the novel is an outright villain. The problems the park suffers are all traced back to him, as Hammond cuts corners to bring his park to life, defrauding investors and blackmailing his own employees. His motivations are inherently selfish, desiring to bring the park to life only to make money, expositing in private he only will allow visitors with the most money he can squeeze from them into Jurassic Park. He even uses his own grandchildren as pawns, bringing them to the park solely as emotional blackmail if his investors try to shut him down.

 

Tim Murphy (Joseph Mazzello) hides from two raptors in the film
Image Via The Washington Post

 

The book also features more elaborate sequences featuring the dinosaurs, such as more species featured, a pterodactyl attack, and more chapters featuring the famed Tyrannosaurus, including several chapters where the T rex pursues the grandkids down a spiralling river. With the complexities bringing dinosaurs to life onscreen, it makes sense that the film could only feature them in a handful of scenes, although they certainly made the most of when the dinosaurs did appear. Still, it shows how powerful the imagination is, no budget required to bring action to life.

In the end, neither work is better than the other, each presenting a different look at the same material. The book is more of an intellectual experience, while the film is an emotional action-adventure. I’d highly recommend reading the book and showing how different a work can be before changes are made in adapting it for the screen.

 

Featured Image Via SyFy Wire