It was the cover that caught me in the used bookstore, of a dinosaur foot standing next to a sand castle – says a lot when you think about it. But it irked me that the footprints on the beach beyond were singular – what was this dino doing? Hopping?
Footprints of Thunder had a couple of things that twitted me – not seriously, mind – I rather liked the book. For instance, it starts with a team of scientific hobbyist investigating strange occurrences – fish and flowers and corn which fall from the clear blue sky. However, it appears that their computer models are all driven by doom-heavy prophesies from an ancient Babylonian scientist (whose name looks suspiciously like a Persian priest from 450 BC or so). And that bugged me – nothing a Babylonian scientist said will be hard enough data to basis a mathematical model on. His world is still pretty small, and any incidents he records will be from the provinces or brought by traders, with dates too vague to be of use. Later, the author appears to put more credence in the data points coming from more recent occurrences so I forgave him. To me, the whole Babylonian deal seemed like a blind alley.
Anyway, after meeting characters all over the US (there is a big list of them in the beginning, which, surprisingly, I didn’t need – hat’s off to James David for clear characterizations), we get down to business. Something (I won’t say what, because that’s the payoff and it’s pretty good) “quilts” time, meaning sections of our world vanish, to be replaced by sections of the ancient past. And pretty much ALL these sections are dinosaur-infested patches (at first I thought “Where are the knights? Where are the Indians?” before remembering that MOST of history would be dino-based. So that works).
And so everyone is dealing with monsters. Cool.
The book has a number of great sub-stories going on – a family on a wrecked sailboat off Naples finds refuge on the back of a huge swimming dinosaur (but what orcas are doing in the Gulf of Mexico, I don’t know – quilted, perhaps?). A group of the afore-mentioned scientists travel into one quilt, pooh-poohing the need for guns. An old widower on the edge of quilted downtown New York (half the city has been replaced) begins to feed a dinosaur sugar – it actually comes to her building, looks up at her window, and goes “Ahhhhhhh!” (Cute!).
But the best part (and the tip of the quill to the author) are the deaths. No, this isn’t Jurassic Park with its moralistic karma-carnage. Bad characters die, good characters die, lots of characters die. Most of the deaths are pretty bloody, and involve chomping noises. One of the characters appears to die, but what happens to her afterwards is sooooo mucccchhh worrrsseee! I shiver to recall that scene.
And it all ends well because, unlike the usual western view, there is nothing that can be fixed here (though the one attempt to repair it ends in multimegaton disaster).
No, I liked it – other than a couple of personal peeves, it wasn’t bad. If you see it second-hand, pick it up (or write me and I’ll send you my copy). Good Jurassic fun without all that Alexis Murphy screaming.