Thursday, 12 June 2014

Ray Bradbury's Dinosaur Tales



I sometimes feel like I should caveat some of the things I write on this here blog with a 'I know it seems like I'm presenting opinion as fact, but it is just my opinion' or some similar statement, but there are a few things I can say with complete confidence, and know no one in their right mind will ever disagree.
Like: Ray Bradbury was one of the greatest writers ever. FACT.


In our school growing up, we must've had a major sci-fi fan in the library staff, as that section had just about everything; from Moorcock to Ellison's Dangerous Visions to Bradbury's own The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, The Golden Apples Of The Sun and on and on. So, in 1983, when Ray got together with Byron Preiss and Bantam Books to produce this little beaut, an illustrated collection of all his, well, dinosaur tales, it was a book I was more than ready for.
It's a handsome, lovingly put together volume chock full of great stories and art. So what did you get? Well, after some fantastic, comedic frontispiece illustration's from Kenneth Smith:


Ray details his lifelong love for dinosaurs in a typically warm, friendly foreword full of childhood reminiscences and grownup regrets. Then the first story is a then new one, done especially for the book.
Besides A Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up? is all about, natch, a little kid who dreams of becoming a T-Rex:



This was my least favourite story back in '83, but I'm now at the right age to appreciate it. The art, by David Wiesner, is also not my favourite, but to be fair he has some serious competition here.
Next is the all-time classic A Sound Of Thunder, originally adapted by EC back in the '50's and prime rip-off material for every subsequent time-travel tale ever since ( as well as quite an odd low budget movie adaptation in 2005 ) This is illustrated by Bill Stout, champion dinosaur artist and is magnificent in every way.



Then there's a jokey poem Lo, The Dear, Daft Dinosaurs, illustrated by Overton Loyd, who stole the show in Preiss' The Illustrated Harlan Ellison.



This is followed by the other standout in a book of standouts, Steranko illustrating mournful masterpiece The Fog Horn: 




Then there's Gahan Wilson with another poem, What If I Said The Dinosaur's Not Dead?



And as if all that wasn't enough, the last tale has Moebius, with dinosaur in Hollywood piece Tyrannosaurus Rex. It speaks volumes for this book that by this point, you have a right to expect nothing less than Moebius.


It staggers me that I sometimes see this book on ebay, going for less than a fiver. Ridiculous, as it is an absolute masterpiece.

4 comments:

  1. Just snagged a copy on eBay for £2.99 inc postage!

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  2. Same here: just snatched up a copy for a little less than $8.00 total (i.e. including postage from the UK to Croatia).
    Thanks for the tip, Pete. I had heard of this book before, but for some reason I never knew it had all those awesome illustrations.

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  3. Two sales in one day! Lucky I've sworn only to use my powers for good...

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