Dinosaurs in Fantastic Fiction: A Thematic Survey
by Allen A. Debus
Cover Artist: Bob Eggleton (2004)
Review by Paul Haggerty
McFarland & Company Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0786426721
Date: 05 October, 2006 List Price $55.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Article /
Despite its name, Dinosaurs in Fantastic Fiction: A Thematic Survey is not just a book about dinosaurs. Sure dinosaurs play an important, even critical part, but what it's really about is literature and history. In these pages Allen Debus uses the theme of dinosaurs in books and movies to discuss the human frame of mind as we deal with the limitations of science, the dawning of environmentalism, fear of war, hope, despair, and down-right filthy commercialism. From official release/information:
Product Description: With the first illustrated edition of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1867, readers began a fascination with the concept of dinosaurs and prehistory. Although rudimentary paleo-fiction had actually gotten its start decades earlier, it was the partnership of Verne and illustrator Edouard Riou which gave dinosaurs a visual life and essentially set the stage for their artistic and literary depiction. Over the next century or so, writers would time and again come back to dinosaurs as an element of fantastic fiction, often using these creatures--through the venue of the written word--to reflect the world of the writers' own time.
From Jules Verne to Michael Crichton, this literary survey examines how paleoliterature originated, developed and matured from its inception in the 1820s to the present day. It follows historical trends on the crafting of classic dinosaurs, investigating the enlivened figurative and metaphoric meaning of fictional dinosaurs and related prehistoria. Also discussed are the ways in which dinosaur fiction mirrors contemporary ideas about subjects such as geology, the Cold War, environmentalism, time travel, evolution and bioengineering. Texts included are limited to those which are available in English and which emphasize dinosaurs, although other favored pseudo-dinosaurs are sometimes discussed. Featured authors include Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, and Poul Anderson, among others. In select cases, the novelizations of movie scripts are also utilized. An appendix provides brief summaries of deserving dinosaur texts, organized alphabetically by author. Illustrations and an index are also included.
(Source: McFarland & Company)