Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2015: Dinosaurs in Science Fiction

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2015, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

It’s something that has cropped up again and again in science fiction, and will probably appear even more so with the revival of a certain Jurassic franchise. Dinosaurs have appeared many times in science fiction, through various formats. Here’s a look at the impact they have made on the genre.

The Jurassic Park/Jurassic World series

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton Jurassic World

The Jurassic Park/Jurassic World series is, ultimately, a tale of man playing god. In the original novel by Michael Crichton, scientists have discovered how to recreate dinosaurs, using DNA extracted from mosquitoes trapped in tree sap. One ingenious businessman by the name of John Hammond decides to open a ‘theme park’ where visitors can, for a rather extortionate fee, see real life dinosaurs in the flesh. However, before it can open it must be approved by several professionals, which is where paleontologist Alan Grant and paleobotanist Ellie Sadler come in. Taken to the island, along with chaotician Ian Malcolm, they soon realise that this business venture is not one they can really approve…

Jurassic Park was adapted into a film in 1993, and was followed by two sequels: Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. Jurassic World is the beginning of a new part of the franchise, and is not directly based on Crichton’s work, apart from the basic ideas of the first novel. It is set twenty-two years after the first film, and the park has been running successfully for ten years. In order to prevent business going stale and people losing interest in dinosaurs, the Jurassic World team have decided to create their very own dinosaur, a hybrid of various different types. And as you’ve probably guessed… well, considering past events, probably not a good idea.

I absolutely LOVE the Jurassic Park/World series. So maybe the second and third films aren’t amazing, but they’re still a part of it. Jurassic Park has been one of my favourite films for a long, long time, and Jurassic World is definitely getting there. They are thrilling and sometimes silly, but I wouldn’t change a thing about them. I still get chills when the camera zooms in on the cup of water at the front of the Jeep, rippling in response to the T-rex’s heavy footsteps.

Terra Nova

Terra Nova

Just like Firefly, Terra Nova is another television series that was cancelled far too early… At only one season long, it packs in so much more than many series do in ten seasons. Set in the 22nd century, it shows a future where overpopulation and declining air quality have caused problems. In answer to this, an operation has been set up to send people back 85 million years, after the discovery of a time rift. Sent in groups called ‘pilgrimages’, the ‘pilgrims’ set up a colony know as Terra Nova, or New Earth. The series follows the Shannon family, a policeman, his doctor wife and their three children. However, it doesn’t just focus on the Shannons, but weaves in the stories of others in the colony.

Whilst you don’t necessarily see dinosaurs in every episode, they do appear quite frequently, often adding a sense of fear or adventure. Some are recognisable, others were made up for the show. Unfortunately, Terra Nova was cancelled after the first series, and although Fox tried to sell it to another network, nothing happened. This means that the finale leaves a LOT of unanswered questions and possibilities for where the show could have gone.

ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved

I NEED THIS GAME. ARK: Survival Evolved is a fairly recent video game, where the player finds themself stranded, naked and alone, on an island. You must explore, gather resources, and stay alive. One slight problem though: the island is full of dinosaurs. An open-world sandbox game, Ark: Survival Evolved allows you to tame and ride, or kill dinosaurs, team up with other players or work on your own, and try to find the best way to survive.

Er… do I really need to explain why I want this game? You can ride a pterodactyl. Or command your own velociraptor team just like Owen. Why would you not want it?! If you need further convincing, just take a look at the trailer:

It would take forever to discuss all books/films/television series/video games that feature dinosaurs, so I’ve just picked a selection! Do you have any particular favourites, whether they’ve made this list or not?

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19 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Month 2015: Dinosaurs in Science Fiction”

  1. Someday, I need to finish watching Terra Nova. I liked it okay when it was on, but I missed the last couple of episodes. I did think it needed more dinosaurs, but really, what show/movie couldn’t be made better by adding more dinosaurs?

    1. It is on Netflix, at least in the UK and the Netherlands, not sure about elsewhere! It’s a shame it was cancelled though, I’m sure we would have seen lots more types of dinosaurs otherwise ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  2. I love the Jurassic Park movies, even the 2nd and 3rd ones. They may not be as great as the others, but they’re still great. I really enjoyed Terra Nova and wish it hadn’t been cancelled. Another in a long line of examples of networks not being able to recognize a good show even when it’s their show.

    I think my absolute favorite appearance of a dinosaur in any type of media is from the original Tomb Raider game. When I ran Lara around that corner to find myself face-to-face with a T. Rex….it was the most wonderfully terrifying moment in any game I’d played. Awesome moment!

    1. They’re just so wonderful in their own way. They may not be works of art but they’re good fun and also DINOSAURS!!

      I FORGOT ABOUT THAT! I played that game when I was about 7 or 8, me and my little sister would play it together. We had to get our dad to do that bit for us because it was too hard ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Dinosaurs and science fiction… two of my favorite things! This is a great post- I love Jurassic Park too, especially the first two movies. I’ve watched a few episodes of Terra Nova and liked it- I need to get back to it. A shame they canceled it.

    ARK looks awesome. Riding a pterodactyl- yes please. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I love the idea of going back in time to the age of dinosaurs- how cool would that be? I wish we’d get more stories like that. There have been a few but surprisingly not a lot of good ones that stand out in my mind, for some reason.

      1. I think I have, it looks familiar I’m sure I’ve seen that cover art somewhere- it of course jumped out at me (dinosaurs!). I may have to give it a try, it sounds very intriguing!

      2. Fun post Rinn! Also Dinosaur Lords is such a cool concept. Midway through Dinosaur Knights right now.

        I think the only thing I wanted to see on this list that wasn’t is a mention of Dynotopia (http://www.dinotopia.com). Not sure if this is on your radar but it was like my favorite thing as a kid. Had all the picture books and a couple kids novels when I got older. Definitely helped inspire my love of Fantasy / SF. So great. Enjoy!

      3. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

        It actually seems sort of familiar, although I’m not sure I ever read them – pretty sure I would’ve loved them though ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. YES! Jurassic Park will always have a special place in my heart and was the reason my brother and I wanted to be paleontologists for the longest time (so many excellent re-enact-able scenes, the jello scene, the magic word scene, the goat leg falling on the car scene…oh I want to re-watch it right now!). I was following Terra Nova a while ago, but I kind of got bored of it, even though it was pretty cool that it featured dinosaurs. Maybe I should try to at least catch up with the rest of the episodes – too bad about all the cliffhangers though! Also, what is this game Ark? I’ve never heard of it but it sounds so awesome! Must google around, now…

    1. So I also originally wanted to be a paleontologist… and somehow ended up in archaeology instead ๐Ÿ˜› I was slightly put off by the thought of having to study rocks and soil for three years before I could even touch dinos! And yes, try to finish off Terra Nova, there’s only 13 episodes or so.

      ARK is a fairly new release, it’s still in early access and is available on Steam, it looks SO fun! It’s an open world sandbox type game so basically you can do whatever you want, but you have to survive. And surviving includes taming dinosaurs ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  5. Hahahha Ark: Survival Evolved looks EPIC. I feel like dinosaurs aren’t really explore much in the book world and video game world. I wonder if it’s because of the popularity of Jurassic Park? Since that overshadows pretty much anything? Either way I do think we need more dinosaurs, everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I think it’s also that for most authors, writing a book like that would require a lot of research. But I definitely agree – more dinosaurs in my sci-fi please! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. This is the first time I see someone mention Terra Nova. I quite liked the show and I also think it’s sad they cancelled it. It had much potential for another season. I hate the fact I will never find out all the answers. ARK looks and sounds so interesting!

  7. Great post, Rinn! I was fascinated by dinosaurs when I was a little girl, and still have a soft spot for them now, and I just love Jurassic Park. Considering it was released in 1993 it still doesn’t look dated, and I love that iconic scene, though the one with the velociraptors in the kitchen was always the one that scared the bejeezus out of me!

  8. I’d say definitely check em out if you can. I was super young when they were popular so I was probably mostly just looking at the pictures (which are beautiful). Maybe I’ll do a re-read for Sci Fi month 2016 ๐Ÿ˜€

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