Thursday, April 08, 2010

Dinosaur Park

Book review 2010.07

Author: Hayford Peirce

Dinosaur Park is a fun, pulpy, scifi adventure set in the far-flung future when humanity has colonized one end of the universe to the other. The story begins on a backwater planet where the feudal society of dinosaur ranchers is preparing for the annual spring festival, the March of Thirty-three Flowers. One 10-year old boy’s childish prank (dosing a T-Rex with sneezing powder) kicks off a story of death, imprisonment, and thirst for revenge.

The main plot is a universe-spanning revenge tale with a protagonist who seems to have little control over his destiny. The story is well-written and action packed, especially in the second half. While the story builds up steam, we get immersed in a setting that is completely alien, and simultaneously, very familiar.

Much of the author’s humor is expressed in proper nouns. Place names and people’s titles are at first annoying and distracting in their silliness, but quickly become enjoyable for their consistency. For example, the story begins in the year 28,373 FIP, or the 28,373rd Flowering of the Indomitable Perpetuality, which is the newer way of counting time, contrasted with the OFR, or Old Fallacious Reckoning.

I found the story to be reminiscent of the one of my favorite scifi series, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars. Meanwhile, Peirce’s writing style reminded me of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, mostly in the way we are exposed to the expansive setting. It may be futuristic and alien, but it’s still peopled with human beings and their foibles. The story is as much a travelogue of this incredible universe, as it is the story of one man’s revenge.

While simply written, the tale is complexly layered, like a fine meal. All of the little details, like where the dinosaurs come from, the role played by the mysterious ancient race, and how our hero fits into the greater schemes of greater men, are woven together in a satisfying way.

This book was fun, interesting, and filled with dinosaurs. I highly recommend it.

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