The Jurassic Chronicles, edited by Samuel Peralta (2017)

JurassicChroniclesCover blurb

Journey back to the most incredible adventure of all, back through the gates of the Jurassic era, back to a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

In this title in the acclaimed Future Chronicles series of speculative fiction anthologies created by award-winning author and series editor Samuel Peralta, thirteen authors assemble an array of astonishing tales around creatures extinct for eons, around prehistoric creatures suddenly, and awesomely, made real.

The Jurassic Chronicles features stories by Victor Milán, author of Dinosaur Lords – “a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones,” according to George R. R. Martin; John W. Campbell Award winning author Seanan McGuire; New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laxmi Hariharan; plus ten more of today’s top authors in speculative and science fiction.

My thoughts

Finally a book that dares ask the question: What happens if you publish an anthology of short stories about dinosaurs using authors who didn’t want to write about dinosaurs?

The Jurassic Chronicles is an anthology of 13 short stories ostensibly concerning dinosaurs. It is part of a larger collection of themed anthologies titled Future Chronicles, with each book in the series tackling a different subject, such as time travel, robots, and doomsday scenarios. I was honestly excited when I discovered the book. I’m a fan of themed anthologies and there hasn’t been a new one about dinosaurs published for more than two decades. But as you may have guessed from my snarky introduction, I was ultimately disappointed. Most of the authors didn’t have their hearts in the subject matter. Worse yet, most of the stories simply are not good.

By far the best story in the book is “Szcar’s Trial” by Harry Manners. Szcar is an intelligent “raptor” dinosaur who is shunned by her pack after botching a hunt. In her isolation, she comes across a strange alien artifact whose purpose she is unable to fathom but which eventually becomes clear to readers. Of all the stories in The Jurassic Chronicles, “Szcar’s Trial” comes closest to earning its place in a better anthology.

A few stories show promise but never reach their full potential. “A Spear for Allosaur” by Victor Milán is a prequel to his Dinosaur Lords trilogy. The plot recounts how the main hero of the series – Karyl Bogomirsky – first met his allosaur companion. The story works as a nice filler and nothing more. “Cryptoscience” by Emily Mah begins as an interesting mystery but concludes suddenly with an unsatisfying resolution. “The Screaming of the Tyrannosaur” by Stant Litore is set in the far future, when gladiators are pitted against resurrected dinosaurs. The story is entertaining for its strangeness, but it also takes itself way too seriously.

Most of the remaining stories treat dinosaurs as B-movie monsters, if they have dinosaurs at all. “An Implant and a Hard Place” by Zen Pietro is a space opera lacking both dinosaurs and a plot. “The Thundering Grind of Jurassic Gears” by Ed Gosney is a horror story about a man who uses his psychic powers to control animatronic dinosaurs, which he sends on a killing spree. “Fatal Mutation” by Anthony J. Melchiorri concerns two cops who infiltrate a meat processing plant and discover a Jurassic Park-like scheme to resurrect the prehistoric beasts. Then there is “Glitch Mitchell and the Island of Terror” by Philip Harris, a homage to pulp-era fiction that tries to cram a novel’s worth of material into a few pages.

With the exception of “Szcar’s Trial,” the one thing lacking from the stories in The Jurassic Chronicles is a love for the material. Most of the authors apparently drew their knowledge about dinosaurs from Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, or worse yet, from Roger Corman’s Carnosaur. I didn’t get the sense the writers bothered brushing up on current paleontology, other than a few mentions of dinosaurs with feathers. And the stories didn’t have anything to say about dinosaurs as actual animals or as a cultural phenomenon.

Hopefully it won’t be another 20 years before we get another dinosaur anthology, and hopefully the result will be better than The Jurassic Chronicles.

Stories

  • “Resurrecting the Dinosaur” (poem) by Samuel Peralta
  • “Fatal Mutation” by Anthony J. Melchiorri
  • “Noble Savage” by Terry Maggert
  • “An Implant and a Hard Place” by Zen DiPietro
  • “Szcar’s Trial” by Harry Manners
  • “Glitch Mitchell and the Island of Terror” by Philip Harris
  • “The Screaming of the Tyrannosaur” by Stant Litore
  • “Ugly” by Laxmi Hariharan
  • “Cryptoscience” by Emily Mah
  • “Victor Mula’s Earth Dream” by M.J. Kelley
  • “The Thundering Grind of Jurassic Gears” by Ed Gosney
  • “A Spear for Allosaur” by Victor Milán
  • “Monsters” by Piers Beckley
  • “Please Accept My Most Profound Apologies for What is About to Happen (But You Started It)” by Seanan McGuire

Trivia

  • The title of Victor Milán’s “A Spear for Allosaur” is a homage to the title of L. Sprague de Camp’s famous short story “A Gun for Dinosaur.”
  • The Jurassic Chronicles has one feature I would like to see in other anthologies: A short roundup of story synopses at the beginning of the book.

Reviews

 

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