Dinosaur Park(originally published in 1989 as The Thirteenth Majestral) is a tale written in the style of Jack Vance, an homage to his works. It’s a wonderfully inventive novel with all sorts of names that bring a smile to one as he reads: Sleepyhead River, the Kneedeep Ocean, Desperation Beach, the Straggletooth Mountains, the continent of Woolywobber. There’s even a character, Baron Boddissey, mentioned in a number of Vance stories, usually as an object of derision or quoting from one of his books. that makes a brief appearance in the story.
It’s millions of years in the future and mankind has spread throughout the galaxy, settling millions of planets, every little group, religion, sect, establishing one to their liking. Humanity has long since forgotten their place of birth.
The planet is Stohlson’s Redemption and has been for so long that no one remembers who Stohlson was or what his redemption might have been. The planet cultivates, and tames, dinosaurs for their religious ceremonies.
Ten year old Kerryl Ryson is not a happy boy. In order to cement a business relationship with another clan, the Coober-Weezlers, a marriage has been arranged for him with seven year old Dalli Weezler. Kerryl is not impressed, all that red hair and freckles. And annoying. He certainly doesn’t want to go and live with them
In the city of Tyhor for the Festival, Kerryl and Dalli, as children will do, race in and out of the crowds watching the parade of dinosaurs given in honor of a visiting off-world dignitary, his Most Immaculate Ultim of Aberdown. Kerryl pulls a childish prank that goes bad, causing one of the Tyrant Kings to vomit all over the ULtim, and starts a riot.
For embarrassing the VIP, Kerryl’s father, as head of the clan, is fed to the dinosaur, taking the clan’s fetish with him. Because he’s a child, Kerryl is shown mercy; he’s held in slavery until he becomes fully grown, then his fate will be decided. The rest of the two clans are taken by the VIP into his gigantic starship, along with a number of dinosaurs, and leaves the planet.
Young Kerryl vows then to kill the object of his new hatred, rescue his clan,the fetish, and restore them to their former glory. How he intends to do all this he has no idea. Twenty years pass as he thinks and plans. He has to escape several death sentences, train in various forms of self defense while he does, and find some trail of his hated foe. Apparently long-lived, computer records from three hundred years before show he’s the man Kerryl is after, though he’s of course much younger then.
After several false trails, Kerryl is eventually headed toward an obscure planet known as Earth, a planet that doesn’t allow casual visitors, and hasn’t for three hundred thousand years, so he has pose as a dinosaur farmer from Ambrose and books passage on a liner headed there. When he tries to board, something like a force field won’t allow him to enter the ship. It doesn’t impede anyone else and when he tries to force himself through, he passes out. The liner leaves without him.
looking for other passage, he has to find one that will avoid stops at certain planets, because of various death sentences imposed on him. The next one that will work is five months away. While he’s waiting, the news services, a couple of months later, are filled with stories of the disappearance of the liner he’d tried to enter in N-Space and all nine hundred passengers and crew.
How odd? If something hadn’t prevented him from boarding…?
When he eventually arrives, Kerryl is scanned and arrested. He sees recorded evidence that the missing liner had arrived and watches himself, indisputably, exit down the passenger ramp.
That’s when the story really gets interesting. Earth has a secret that has kept it quarantined for three hundred thousand years. What the twelve Majestrals of Earth don’t know is that Kerryl Ryson has an ability that makes him extremely dangerous to their way of life.
I loved reading this novel. Funny at times, serious at others, it’s full of adventure in that old style(as mentioned written to emulate Jack Vance’s stories), it is well worth picking up if one loves this sort of stuff. From the good folks at Wildside Press HERE(just click on bookstore) and at Amazon, either as a TRADE or for their KINDLE.
Check it out.