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Jeff Martz is on a bit of a dinosaur list vacation but has been
reading the archives. He asked me to forward this along (Jeff, I just
subscribed you and set your mail mode to postpone -- that will be like
not being subscribed except that a) now listproc will accept your
messages and b) you'll get an error message if you try to subscribe
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I have been confining my list activity to reading the archives
lately, but Sam Barnett brought up Bill Stout and William Service's book
"The Dinosaurs", and I thought I should speak up.
I got a copy of Stout's book for Christmas when I was 6, in 1981.
This was in fact several years before Dinosaur Heresies came out, and at
that time I knew little about dinosaurs other then I really liked them.
My dad read the book to me at bedtime; unlike a lot of parents might
have, Dad knew kids can handle a good deal more intense and interesting
reading then adults give them credit for, and had no problem reading
William Service's vivid text. The narration in this book is half of
what makes it so great, portraying dinosaurs is living beasts with the
same limitations on behavior and intelligence that modern animals have,
but which modern post-Bakkerian fiction tends to dodge in favor of
eye-rollingly "dynamic" super-beasts. These animals are not dull or
stupid, but they dither and hesitate, and sometimes do completely the
wrong thing in confusing or intense situations, just as modern animals
do. They are also shown as a part, rather then the primary feature, of
thier environments; a large number of the chapters in the book are
devoted to the environements and organisms the dinosaurs shared thier
world with. The book really brings hope the whole incredibly complex
and alien, yet familiar world of that by-gone era.
I ran into Stout at SVP this year, and got an autographed copy of
his Antarctic mosasaur poster. Perhaps next time I go to SVP, I will
take my old, well worn copy and get his autograph in it. Incidently, I
asked him if he would ever consider doing an updated version of his
wonderful book, and he said a slightly updated version that will augment
rather then re-do the existing illustrations and text is planned.
Service is unfortunately deceased; hopefully they will get someone with
as keen an eye for nature to do the writing.
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