October 22nd, 2002

The Tuesday Lunchtime "Installing W2KAS" Review: Dinotopia Lost

James Gurney's first two Dinotopia illustrated works are excellent science fantasies, mixing humans and dinosaurs on a hidden island somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Following the rules of the Lost World sub-genre, they trap contemporary or (as in this case) near-historical characters in amongst its inhabitants , guiding us through the world as we follow our heroes on their voyage of discovery. A voyage that is captured in Gurney's detailed pre-Raphaelite illustrations.

But now Dinotopia has become a franchise, with a TV series and books set in Gurney's world now being written by other authors. Has the charm of watching man and stegosaur in perfect harmony been lost as the story slips out of Gurney's hands?

One of the first franchised novels is Alan Dean Foster's Dinotopia Lost. Set a few years after Gurney's original books, and involving one of the key characters, it chronicles the arrival in Dinotopia of a group of pirates, their kidnapping of a handful of saurians, and the rescue mission sent to save the day - all in the teeth of the worst storm to hit the island in a hundred years.

Reading like one of Foster's light fantasy Spellsinger novels with all of the invention and humour extracted, this is light fiction at its lightest. There's little in the way of character development, and even less in the way of plot tension. Even the storm feels like a little shower, despite its apparent . Everything runs on little rails, from start to finish, with no deviation - not even for additional background information. You're assumed to have read Gurney's books, and if you haven't, then it's time to donate more money to the franchise.

This is a book to avoid. It feels hurried and empty - embodying all that is bad about media tie-in novels and franchise universes. Still, it does have a nice cover picture.
  • Current Music
    Lemon Jelly - Lost Horizons - The Curse Of Ka'Zar