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Literature: Carnosaur
"Candy-gram!"
A novel by Harry Adam Knight (a penname of Australian sf author John Brosnan, used for his schlockiest work), written in the 80's, some time prior to Jurassic Park. The novel's story is vastly different from the In Name Only Roger Corman film. In it, David Pascal in Cambridgeshire, England is trying to discover the causes of a recent rash of deaths. The local bigshot, Sir Darren Penward, who collects rare and exotic predators, insists it was a Siberian tiger that escaped from his private zoo. However the lone survivor of one of the attacks, a small boy, claims it was a dinosaur.

Pascal investigates further (mostly through wooing and ultimately sleeping with Penward's wife, Jane) and discovers Penward's scientists have cloned predatory dinosaurs for him to add to his collection. Inevitably the dinosaurs escape and wreak carnage throughout Cambridgeshire as the local police attempt to battle them.


Tropes used in this novel:

  • Action Survivor: David and his girlfriend Jenny are really put through the ringer.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Penward.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Penward's goons frequent a rural British version of one.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Jenny gets some grievous injuries and even has her arm ripped off!. She gets better, sort of..
  • Cassandra Truth: David Pascal.
  • Covers Always Lie: Tor released a movie tie-in version of the novel to coincide with Corman's film, whose cover, featuring the movie poster artwork, blurts, "In the Startling Tradition of Jurassic Park!"
    • Especially Egregious considering the simple fact that neither of those characters are in the novel, although a reader who never saw the movie would just assume its what the two unrelated main characters of the novel look like.
  • Death by Irony: Besides the dinosaurs, Sir Penward's estate houses all manner of nature's extant carnivores, many of which get loose when the dinosaurs go on the rampage. The animal that's ultimately responsible for doing Penward in? One of the steers he kept for feeding purposes gores him in the thigh, and it's lampshaded several times throughout the novel.
  • Death by Sex: In one of the few sequences that actually gets depicted in the film, a couple of teens are mauled to death by a Deinonychus while getting it on in their car.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The Deinonychus that Pascal forgets about homes right in on Jenny's home and slaughters her family and gravely wounds both her and Pascal. What are the chances it would pick her house?
  • The End... Or Is It?: A mortally wounded Penward escapes with some dinosaur eggs at the end.
  • Friend on the Force: Constable Keith Driscoll.
  • Gorn: People are killed and devoured in rather gruesome ways.
  • Hellish Copter
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Played straight with the Brachiosaurus, but averted with Scolosaurus.
  • Infant Immortality: Both played straight and averted. Fiona gets killed but her brother Simon is rescued.
  • Intrepid Reporter: David Pascal, again.
  • It Can Think: Several characters remark on the Deinonychus having a cruel intelligence about it.
  • Karmic Death: Lady Jane, who was responsible for letting all of the dinosaurs loose , is devoured by a pair of newly-hatched Tyrannosaurus rex infants at the end of the novel.
  • Police Are Useless
  • Prehistoric Monster: Despite being fairly progressive in dinosaur depictions, it is still very much guilty of this. All but one of the dinosaurs mercilessly hunt down humans and devour them long after their appetites should be sated. This is especially weird for creatures like Dilophosaurus and the plesiosaur, which would not be very well equipped to eat large, fast moving prey like human beings.
  • Primal Fear: In addition to the obvious (the fear of large carnivores), this is discussed in the novel. Just the smell of the dinosaurs is enough to terrify people.
  • Raptor Attack
  • Rich Bitch: Jane Penward.
  • Science Marches On: While reasonably accurate for its day, Carnosaur is still over 30 years old, so....
    • Deinonychus is portrayed as featherless, using its claws like scythes. We now know that deinonychosaurs had feathers and used their toe claws as hooks.
    • It is now known that plesiosaurs do not hatch from eggs and cannot lift their necks above water.
    • It used to be thought that some theropods could be at least partially quadrupedal, and the Atispinax (now named Becklespinax) is portrayed as such in the novel. This is now seen as anatomically impossible.
    • Back when the novel was written, several of the featured dinosaurs (namely Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus, Megalosaurus, and Altispinax) would have been considered carnosaurs, as it was thought at the time that all large theropods were fairly closely related. Carnosauria has recently been redefined as Allosaurus and its close relatives, leaving Altispinax as the only actual carnosaur in the book.
    • Inversion: At the time the novel was written, Scolosaurus was thought to be a synonym for Euolocephalus. Later in 2013, Scolosaurus turned out to be its own valid genus after all.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Penward doesn't so much screw the rules as not even believe they exist in the first place.
  • Shown Their Work: The author almost certainly did a lot of research for this and it shows. They even pointed out that plesiosaurs aren't dinosaurs!
  • Sequel Hook: two Tyrannosaurus hatch and no one knows where they are at. Considering it's been about 30 years, and the author died, it's unlikely to be followed up on.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Subverted. Knight uses Tarbosaurus instead of a T. rex as the novel's main threat. Altispinax (now known as Becklespinax and just as obscure by that name) and Scolosaurus briefly turn up as well.
    • Nevertheless, some stock dinosaurs are featured. To wit:
      • Brachiosaurus is briefly featured
      • Deinonychus is the most featured dinosaur of all, and it's arguably great stock in all but name. Interestingly, this was before raptors were made stock dinosaurs
      • Dilophosaurus is featured. This is also before it was made stock, and as such, isn't depicted as frilled or poisonous.
      • Megalosaurus makes a few appearances
      • A plesiosaur (unknown exactly which kind) is a big threat as well.
      • Lastly, two baby Tyrannosaurus are hatched.
      • So, to sum it up, 2 great stock, 3 secondary stock, 1 rarely seen stock, and the rest are non-stock.
  • Storming the Castle
  • Token Good Teammate: The Brachiosaurus is the only dinosaur that isn't a violent monster.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: Subverted. The only ones that appear are a pair of hatchlings. Tarbosaurus instead takes its place as the main threat.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Penward's goons opt not to kill Simon, the little boy that survived the third dinosaur attack, due to not liking the idea of killing a child, reasoning no one would believe him.
    • Penward himself Would Hurt a Child however, and plans to have the boy murdered. Fortunately he's distracted by more pressing matters before he can do so, as the dinos get loose, rendering the issue of the boy moot, and Penward forgets about him.

Carrion ComfortLiterature of the 1980sThe Castle in the Attic
CarmillaHorror LiteratureCarrie
CarnivoreDinosaur MediaDinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages

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