Thursday, June 21, 2007

Carnosaur by Henry Adam Knight (1984)

Paperback cover blurb


The world’s most vicious predator is back – and he’s got company. Tyrannosaurus Rex, Deinonychus, Brachiosaurus, all have been loosed into the modern world by Jane Penward, the vengeance-hungry nymphomaniac wife of the man who cloned them. David Pascal is a small-time journalist who gets his chance to make it big by cracking the dino story. But the key to the truth carries a high price – it’s held by Jane. Before she’s through with David, the carnage created by the dinosaurs will spread for miles and climax in an apocalyptic battle between the primal monsters and all the technological forces that modern man can muster.

But can anything stand against the voracious prehistoric hunger of…


* The cover and blurb are from the 1993 movie tie-in edition.

My thoughts

Carnosaur is a guilty pleasure of mine. The book is a fun little novel filled with dark humor. And although it's not apparent unless you know something about the author, the book is a homage to B-grade dinosaur movies of yesteryear.

The entire plot of the novel was scrapped in the 1993 movie, a cheap made-in-America effort to cash in on the Jurassic Park craze of that year. Carnosaur is set in England in the early-1980s. David Pascal is a reporter who writes for a small town paper and still lives at home with his mother. He comes to suspect that a series of deaths in the surrounding countryside are not the work of an escaped tiger, a story fabricated by one Lord Penward, an aristocrat who keeps a private zoo. To break the story, Pascal has an affair with Penward's wife, Lady Jane. He soon discovers Penward has more than just tigers in his zoo.

The fun thing about Carnosaur is it's B-grade entertainment and the author knows that -- he doesn't make the mistake of playing it straight. The climatic rampage of the dinosaurs across the countryside is a hoot, as is the twisted ending.

The characters are likable if a little silly, particularly the villains, Penward and his wife, whose motives are downright laughable. The dinosaurs are little more than movie monsters, although the author did incorporate what was then new ideas about warm-blooded dinosaurs. You never mind its shortcomings because the book, at little over 200 pages, is fast-paced and never boring. Also, there are moments of real tension, such as an escape over a barb-wire fence by our heroes as a hungry Tarbosaurus chases them down.

The book is out-of-print and hard to find: Try a used bookstore.

  • Any conspiracy theorists out there? The cast of dinosaurs in Carnosaur may seem familiar to fans of Jurassic Park, but remember this work came out six years before Michael Crichton published his dinosaur story. There is a deinocyhus, which Crichton confused with velcioraptors; a Tarbosaurus, the Asian cousin of T. rex; and a dilphosaurus, the "spitters" of Jurassic Park. I think it is coincidental, but it is interesting.
  • Harry Adam Knight is the pen name for John Brosnan, who has written extensively on sci-fi and horror films, and Leroy Kettle. However, Brosnan wrote Carnosaur himself. The initials of the pen name -- HAK (as in movie "hack") -- are no accident. (Source: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.)
  • I may be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure Carnosaur is the only work of fiction to feature a character who is "the vengeance-hungry nymphomaniac wife of the man who cloned (dinosaurs)." Just imagine the possibilities if this was used in Jurassic Park...
  • None

1 comment:

SlackJaw said...

...I think I have to read that book.