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Dinosaur Tales
Ray Bradbury
ibooks, 144 pages

Dinosaur Tales
Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of our time. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920, he authored such classics of the genre as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Farenheit 451 (1953) by his early 30s, and continues to produce important work today.
In 1990, while at a summit meeting in New York, Mikhail Gorbachov made a special trip to visit Bradbury, his "favourite author," whose works he claimed to have read in the original versions. Bradbury is American fantasy's great ambassador.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: From the Dust Returned
SF Site Review: Dandelion Wine
SF Site Review: Green Shadows, White Whale
SF Site Review: Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines
SF Site Review: Driving Blind
SF Site Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes
SF Site Review: The Illustrated Man
The Illustrated Man Excerpt
The Ray Bradbury Theatre

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Ever since dinosaurs were identified as actual creatures rather than merely a mythified monsters such as dragons, they have captured the imagination of children and adults alike. In 1925, a young Ray Bradbury fell in love with dinosaurs after seeing the film The Lost World, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel. Willis O'Brien's film thusly inspired Bradbury to write an half dozen stories focusing on dinosaurs, which have been collected in the book Dinosaur Tales, originally published in 1983 by Bantam and now reprinted by ibooks.

In "Besides a Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up?" Bradbury gets to the very heart of the attraction dinosaurs have for so many and the ability to imagine greater strength or power that the dreamer currently has. In this case, Benjamin's dreams are nurtured by his grandpa, who doesn't quite realize the strength of Benjamin's desire until it is almost too late. At the same time, the story examines the growth of children and their capricious natures.

The most famous story included in the collection is undoubtedly "A Sound of Thunder," in which a group of hunters travel back in time to hunt Tyrannosaurus rex. Although the idea has been used since, most notably in L. Sprague de Camp's Rivers of Time stories, Bradbury's tale looks at the consequences of the most minor action of which a person may not even be aware. Although much of the story's power comes from the force of the ending, it still stands up to multiple readings.

"The Fog Horn" is written with an almost Lovecraftian intensity of mood in which Bradbury's description of solitude and fog become practically palpable. Despite the mood, the story misses becoming a story in the Lovecraft milieu because Bradbury elects not to provide an ending in the same mode, instead of horror, he provides a bitter sweet farewell to the dinosaur who has survived the aeons.

Just as dinosaurs represent dreams of so many, it can also represent fears. In "Tyrannosaurus Rex," Bradbury depicts a Tyrannosaurus Rex as the fear of what others might see when they look at us. In this case, the tyrannical film producer Joe Clarence is shown how others see him and discovers he doesn't like what he sees. However, Bradbury does not take the easy way out by having Clarence reform his own actions, but rather reform his understanding of other people's views.

"Lo, the Dead, Daft Dinosaurs!" is a poem about the ultimate fate of the dinosaurs and the dreams they inspire. With a cadence reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," the poem's meter sticks in the reader's head as do the images of cavorting dinosaurs. "What If I Said: The Dinosaur's Not Dead?" is the other poem included in the collection and is not quite as memorable in meter, but does very graphically capture the manner in which dinosaur's have grabbed the popular imagination.

Dinosaur Tales is copiously illustrated by artists ranging from Moebius to Gahan Wilson, providing a broad range of styles, all of which present depictions of the dinosaurs Bradbury so lovingly describes, each adding to the flavor of the story they accompany and presented an image of the different thoughts dinosaurs inspire.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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