The Science Fictional Dinosaur, edited by Robert Silverberg, et al. (1982)

SciFiDinosaurCover blurb

Brian Aldiss, Issac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson, Frederick D. Gottfried, Harry Harrison, Robert F. Young, Paul Ash…

These great writers of science fiction are brought together in this collection of nine utterly fantastic and fascinating dinosaur stories. In each story, humans come face to face with real dinosaurs—in the distant past or the far away future:

A pterodactyl saves a sea-mining camp from disaster in Paul Ash’s “The Wings of a Bat.” Brian Aldiss’s urban man of the future take a time-travel vacation to hunt a brontosaurus in “Poor Little Warrior!” A “human” skeleton is found in a time millions of years before humans existed in Robert F. Young’s “When Time Was New.”

The stories explore some of the greatest mysteries of the ages: Why did the dinosaurs suddenly disappear from the face of the earth? Were they intelligent—more intelligent than humans? What were they really like? In this selection of surprising and ironic stories, discover for yourself the incredible world of the dinosaurs. Once you enter, you may never want to return.

Includes a glossary, a geologic time scale, and a reptile classification chart.

My thoughts

The Science Fictional Dinosaur is a collection of nine dinosaur-themed short stories published over three decades, with the earliest story first appearing in 1950 and the latest in 1980. As the cover blurb indicates, some of the best-known authors of classic science fiction contribute to the anthology, with Issac Asimov authoring two stories. Unfortunately the final result is a mixed bag, but the book doesn’t suffer from a lack of variety.

The two best stories in the collection are “The Wings of a Bat” by Paul Ash and “Wildcat” by Poul Anderson. Both concern human efforts to extract natural resources from the prehistoric past, although Anderson has a much darker take on the subject than Ash. Asimov’s two stories “Day of the Hunters” and “A Statue for Father” both involve time travel, although the former is a morality tale while the latter is satire. Other stories have interesting premises but never quite live up to their potential, such as “Hermes to the Ages”—concerning a dinosaur found on the moon—and “Our Lady of the Sauropods”—best described as Jurassic Park in space. The only real turkey in the collection is “When Time Was New,” which involves time travel, a creepy romance involving an older man and a young girl, and a Triceratops-shaped tank with machine guns for horns and its own kitchenette. The book concludes with a geological time scale and a short glossary of dinosaurs and other Mesozoic animals.

There are certainly better dinosaur-themed anthologies available, but The Science Fictional Dinosaur isn’t a bad effort. Many of the stories may not represent the best work of their famous authors, but they are still entertaining. I recommend picking up a copy if you can find it online or at a used bookstore for a reasonable price.

Stories

  • “The Wings of a Bat” by Paul Ash
  • “The Ever-Branching Tree” by Harry Harrison
  • “When Time Was New” by Robert F. Young
  • “Poor Little Warrior!” by Brian Aldiss
  • “Day of the Hunters” by Isaac Asimov
  • “Hermes to the Ages” by Frederick D. Gottfried
  • “A Statue for Father” by Issac Asimov
  • “Wildcat” by Poul Anderson
  • “Our Lady of the Sauropods” by Robert Silverberg

Trivia

  • The anthology’s three editors are Robert Silverberg, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin Harry Greenberg.
  • I absolutely adore the cover art for this book. The illustrator is Tim Hildebrandt—one half of the famous Brothers Hildebrandt. Both artists are known for their science fiction and fantasy illustrations, particularly their art of The Lord of the Rings.

Reviews

  • None

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s