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Re: "Dinosaur Cowboy" Film

On Fri, 09 Sep 2005 12:00:53 -0700 (PDT) Rose Alexander
<ralexander56@sbcglobal.net> writes:

> ...Hopefully I can stop hysterically laughing long
> enough to type...I have to ask:  Phil, if paleontology
> doesn't work out, have you ever considered a career as
> a screenwriter???   

I would have loved to have written the screenplay for "A Beautiful Mind".
 But I would have added a few James Bond-esque car chases and a couple
UFO landings on campus to liven things up during the middle of the movie!

Most DML subscribers can write a better screenplay than, say, 
"Battlefield Earth".  And let's be honest, "Sound of Thunder" was a
softball-throw screenplay project.  Not even Charley Brown could have
missed hitting Bradbury's great story line out of the ball park.  Yet, a
committee of Hollyweird cretins still managed to thoroughly mess up a
science fiction classic.

If I had more space on my web page, I would start up a writer's forum for
DML list members and anyone else interested in kicking around original
science docu-drama script ideas and Sci-Fi script ideas (maybe even
provisions for posting sample chapters).  I know that there are other web
pages that do this, but I would have mine cater to followers of natural
science, particularly geology and paleontology.

A few comments about what, IMHO, makes good Sci-Fi:

A former girlfriend gave me Bakker's _Raptor Red_ as a present and I
eagerly dove into it.  Unfortunately, I got bored with it and never
finished the book.  Maybe it was the lack of humans in the story line
(Bakker could have included at least one WayBack Machine visitation). 
For instance, I thought that Crichton's _Jurassic Park_ (the original)
was an ingenious concept vehicle.  And the first _Alien_ movie is another
classic masterpiece that addressed the conflict between humanity and the
rest of nature.  And of course Conan-Doyle's _The Lost World_.  Now THOSE
are examples of great Sci-Fi writing.

About ten years ago as a favor(?) for a friend who taught a college class
called "The History of Science", I wrote a story to be used as a
discussion guide (workbook guide) for three of the class's Thursday
seminar discussions.  The story was about a young postdoc paleontologist
who discovered perfect cylindrical structures embedded a Morrison
Formation dinosaur quarry.  The structures were 20 meters long and 5
meters in diameter, and were composed of hematite (rust stains) with very
high percentages of beryllium, titanium and scandium oxides as accessory
constituents.  The excavation crew leader dismissed the structures as
simple (and only slightly interesting) diagenetic features in the rock,
but the main character knew that this is something worth investigating
further.  The epic story followed his troubled career from his initial
discovery into his old age, and it documented his futile attempts to
explain the strange features to the scientific community, even after
additional, truely bizarre data is subsequently unearthed from the
Morrison quarry.  I originally intended to write the Sci-Fi story as a
demonstration of  the strengths and pitfalls of career paleontology, the
scientific method, peer review, preservation of evidence, and
perseverance against overwhelming obstacles (such as the main character's
successful treatment for schizophrenia as a child).  The story tragically
ends when the paleontogist's cured childhood affliction is revealed to
the press by another scientist.  He is eventually ostracized by his
professional peers and he takes his own life.  Adding insult to tragedy,
all of the field evidence of his discovery was later destroyed by
continued dinosaur bone excavations at the quarry (the discovery of a
huge basal tyrannosauroid species with horns prompted the continued

I left the ending of the story open as to what, exactly, those rust
stains in the Morrison Fm were.  The ending was a little reminiscent of
the ending of Carl Sagan's _Contact_.  BTW:  many movie goers hated
_Contact_'s unresolved ending, but I loved it.


p.s.  I lost the manuscript of the story (stored on a floppy) during a
move about 5 years ago.  Otherwise I'd have posted it on my web page.