Lords of Creation by Tim Sullivan (1992)

LordsofCreationCover blurb

THEY WERE CONCEIVED AT THE DAWN OF TIME…

In the deep Montana shale, paleontologist David Albee makes a remarkable discovery: a metal box containing prehistoric dinosaur eggs — warm, alive… and ready to hatch.

One week later, they are among us – newborn creatures from an age long dead. With uncanny intelligence, they adapt to their new world – driven by some strange, unknown purpose. Curious and hungry, they begin to feed… and grow.

But even as Albee struggles to protect his find from the wrath of government agents and religious fundamentalists, gargantuan invaders from a distant star prepare to make contact – armed with earth-shattering revelations that will destroy humankind’s every notion of nature and science… and God.

My thoughts

The 1990s in Tim Sullivan’s Lords of Creation were far different from what I remember. The United States, swept by a wave of Christian Millennialism, creates a Department of Morality to enforce religious doctrine and nearly outlaws paleontology as a heretical science. (The First Amendment be damned.) The political climate makes amateur paleontologist David Albee something of a pariah, so he is understandably a little nervous when he finds a metal box in a rock layer dating to the time of dinosaurs. Turns out the box holds fresh dinosaur eggs – and they’re about to hatch. The government learns of the discovery and sweeps in to cover up the find and its religious implications. When the dinosaurs finally emerge, they are far more intelligent than anyone ever guessed. Stranger still, the box broadcasts a signal that attracts the attention of aliens, who send a message to humanity that they’re coming for the dinosaurs.

Lords of Creation is a novel with a plot that sounds more interesting than it plays out. One problem is the narrative meanders along with no real build up of tension or mystery. Nothing ever feels of much consequence despite the world-changing events taking place — the discovery of living dinosaurs, first contact with aliens, etc. We instead spend a large amount of time exploring the relationship between the main character and his ex-girlfriend, but both characters are so thinly drawn that it’s hard to care about their romance.

A more serious problem is that most characters are just one-dimensional caricatures the author uses to bash political views he doesn’t like. I’ve complained before about conservative authors who fill their novels with straw men to make simplistic political statements (here and here). Sullivan shows liberal writers also can fall into this trap. He wants to make a statement about science vs. religion, but his conservative villains exist solely so the liberal good guys can lecture them on how wrongheaded they are. They’re not allowed to be real human beings or present their arguments in any sort of intelligent manner.

That said, I doubt readers with a conservative bent could get worked up about Lords of Creation because ultimately it is too bland to be memorable. The best thing I can say about the novel is it’s a good example of how not to use science fiction to explore a complex social topic.

Trivia

  • Lords of Creation was ahead of its time in that it featured feathered dinosaurs. The film version of Jurassic Park, which came out one year later, depicted scaly velociraptors – a mistake that will continue into this year’s Jurassic World.
  • Tim Sullivan has authored six novels and was a co-author of The Dinosaur Trackers. He also is a screenplay writer and actor who has appeared in several films, according to his Wikipedia page.

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