Friday, August 9, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Dinotopia


My Experience with this World: 

When I was nine or ten, my mom brought home this HUGE book, filled with the most beautiful pictures of dinosaurs and people living together for me to read. I ate it up, and was pleased to learn that there was a sequel, which I then preceded to devour. Unfortunately, I ran out of those lovely illustrated books (or at least the ones that my library had) ... so I turned to the mass-authored series. Unfortunately, I only made my way through the first book before my reading was diverted onto more interesting waters, but I later picked up another one at a garage sale or something, and have read that one ... three hundred times or so?

(Interestingly enough, I discovered while looking up a map, the two books of the paperback series that I've read were the first two - and I've read them in the right order!)

I have not watched the TV series, even though we own some of them.


The author of Dinotopia does believe in evolution, and his explanation is that it is an island that has somehow escaped all of the catastrophes that rendered everything extinct everywhere else.


This is the map found in my copy of Riverquest.

I forget how big Dinotopia is, but it's big enough to have lots of unexplored places and travel time, yet not so big that people are constantly finding it, so it must be somewhere between the size of England and Australia. (It even looks a lot like Australia) The center of the island is the Rainy Basin, which is not very civilized, being inhabited by the larger carnivores.

Dinotopia is surrounded by waters impossible to navigate, making escape from the island almost impossible.

There are a few very important cities, where most of the human population dwell. Waterfall City, which is beside the Polongo River, is possible the most important, but there is also the Hatchery, where Dinosaurs go to lay their eggs, and the eggs are tended by the humans.

There is an underground cave system, called the Land Beneath, which is quite interesting. It's hinted that this country inspired Atlantis.

Peoples and Culture:

All dinosaurs are sentient, but I don't remember if the pterosaurs are or not. Even the T-rexes and other big carnivores of the Rainy Basin are intelligent.

Dinotopia (despite the fact the literal translation of the word is "terrible place") is a utopia. Everyone lives in harmony with one another, no one takes more food than they need, and often, when a dinosaur feels himself close to death, he'll go to the Rainy Basin so that the big guys can eat him after he's dead. There is no money, and very little concept of ownership.

I don't remember if there is a ruler, per se, but there is a system of Habitat Partners, which are pairs of dinosaurs and humans who travel dinotopia making sure that everything in their charge is normal.

Humans come in two types: those who were born there, and the Dolphinbacks, who were shipwrecked in the uncrossable waters and brought to shore by the Dolphins. There appears to be a bit of a matriarchal system, since those who were born there will tell their original nationality by being "three mothers Irish" or "Twenty mothers English." The language of the humans is a mashup of the many different languages of the people who came there. The dinosaurs each have their own language, but most (and many humans) can understand the other languages, especially the human ones. Some can even mimic the human tongue. For those who can't, there is a written language (made of dinosaur tracks) that most can read.

What I like about this world:

The sheer concept! Intelligent dinosaurs and humans living together in basic harmony is just SO COOL!!!  And the pictures of the original books were amazing. I wish I could paint like that ...

What I don't like:

It is from an evolutionary viewpoint, and it's utopic, but I talked about the utopic issue with Oz ... so ...

What I learned from this world: 

Art can be a terrific asset to a book. Also, hiding islands in the ocean can be fun.

However it was the dinosaur track language is what I found the most inspiring. I love codes, and I faithfully went through the book and decoded every single phrase in every single picture. It gave the book so much hidden depth. If I ever write a book with pictures in it, I will find a way to hide coded text throughout.

These world-building posts are for the promotion of the upcoming release of my book The Ankulen. Feel free to do one yourself, just make sure you refer back to my blog and let your readers know about my upcoming book. If you do write a post, post a link in a comment somewhere on my blog and I'll add you to a giveaway for a copy of my book.


  1. That sounds so cool! I've heard of Dinotopia, but never knew what it was about. Seems like I saw a picture from the book, and yes, it was amazing.
    Dinosaur stories are almost as interesting as Fairy tales ("dinosaurs" being the modern term for dragons, after all). Too bad they often have evolutionary undercurrents. :-( And the concept of Humans and dinos living together--well, like you said, it's just plain cool.

    God bless, and happy writing,
    ~"Tom Wild Rose"~

    1. I know! Someday I think I shall write a creationist story of "dragons" and humans together. I'm not sure when that will happen ... but it's something I'd really like to do.

  2. I read the first book and have been meaning to get the second. I want to read some of the non picture ones, but whenever I pick them up, all I can think of is how much I miss the artwork.

    I did another.


Hi! Now that you've read my post, hast thou any opinions that thou wouldst like to share? I'd love to hear them!

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