Thursday, August 16, 2007

Free paleo-stories on the web

Hope you have a fun weekend planned, but if you find yourself stuck inside for whatever reason, here is some good reading to pass the time.

The following paleo-tales are all available on the Web for free, either because the author posted them or because they are now in the public domain. I'm planning a future post about novels in the public domain, so none of those titles are listed here. The titles below are all short stories.

First up is science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer, who has posted several of his short stories on his web site.

  • Just Like Old Times -- The mind of a serial killer is transferred to a Tyrannosaurus rex, where he gets to stalk the greatest prey of all.
  • Gator -- A scientist investigates the urban legend about alligators in the sewers and finds the truth is more bizarre than the tabloids would have you believe.
  • Forever -- Intelligent dinosaurs prepare for the asteroid that will bring their era to a close.
  • Peking Man -- A secret history is revealed through the bones of a missing fossil.
The next two stories are featured on the science fiction story web site, Sci Fiction, which is no longer publishing. Its older stories are still up, however.

  • The Dragons of Summer Gulch by Robert Reed -- A tale set in an alternate world where the age of dinosaurs was replaced by an age of dragons. Fossil hunters in what may be the American West fight over some extraordinarily well-preserved dragon eggs.
  • The Ugly Chickens by Howard Waldrop -- A ornithologist searches for the last dodos on Earth after encountering an elderly lady on a bus who claims to have seen them.
The next couple stories will take some explaining. Both are by Clark Ashton Smith, an early 20th-century artist and fantasy writer who was good friends with horror legend H.P. Lovecraft. Smith wrote a handful of fantasy stories set in Hyperborea, a mythical lost land that the author placed in Greenland before the onset of the last Ice Age. It was populated by dinosaurs and other extinct animals, although in most of his stories these creatures were little more than decoration, if they were used at all. The following two tales are the ones where they play the largest role:

  • The Seven Geases -- A personal favorite of mine, although it is admittedly a strange piece of work. The story is about a snobbish aristocrat who is cursed to follow an archaeopteryx into the bowels of a mountain, where he encounters horrors both mythological and prehistoric.
  • Ubbo-Sathla -- A man purchases a strange stone from a curio-dealer and uses it to travel to the dawn of life on Earth, where a great horror awaits. (Try to ignore the ugly reference about the "dwarfish Hebrew" -- early pulp fiction writers were notoriously bigoted.)
The last group of stories come from the cryptozoology web site All are late 19th and early 20th century stories with a cryptozoology theme, and as a result, many also are interesting examples of early paleo-fiction.

Visit the web site's fiction section for a larger list of stories. Below are links to the titles with a paleontology theme. Just be warned that some contain racist attitudes that were unfortunately common for the time they were written.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There once was a girl name Destiny Blake who live in Salisbury one day she died no one knows why but her throught was slice and inside her throat was a bug necklace that she usely were and to this day every day the ghost of destiny blake still live in salisbury living her life to this day the belives she is 11 years old and in the 6 grade and her case remains a mystery