RogerBW's Blog

Anonymous Rex, Eric Garcia 06 December 2018

1999 science fiction noir. Vincent Rubio is a private investigator in Los Angeles: down on his luck, partner dead in an "accident", car repossessed, and a growing substance habit. But down these mean streets a man must walk who is not himself a man… Vincent is a velociraptor.

Because dinosaurs have lived among humans for millions of years – always in "guise", costumes so effective that no human has ever discovered the masquerade. (At least not where they can't be quickly killed.) Why they did this rather than just taking over, nobody knows. There's an obvious influence from Jurassic Park, but I feel there's also one from Vampire: the Masquerade: if vampires can live among humans and conceal their existence, hell, why not dinosaurs? The details don't make a lot of sense, but they're the impossibility one has to swallow to get on with the story.

I consider asking my newfound nursing friend—her name is Rita, and she's an Allosaur, va-voom!—for Burke's visitor records. I know she'd do it for me, despite its questionable legality, but I don't want to get her into trouble. At least not yet, not without me, and certainly not sober.

It's an effective noir story, complete with corruption and femme fatale (and Garcia has clearly put a fair bit of thought into matters of dinosaur sex), though it also has surprisingly serious moments and themes even beyond the sort of thing one expects in noir.

Should it go further? Perhaps. Noir is, after all, a thing that's been done a lot, and while it's handled competently there's very little of the unexpected here. That's saved for the dinosaur side, where there's just enough time spent on establishing the rules that when they're broken it's genuinely disconcerting.

The basic concept of the film, as far as I can remember, involved a human scientist using fossilized DNA—ha!—to create a whole mess of dinosaurs and keep us captive on an island somewhere in the South Pacific, ostensibly to create an amusement park, only we manage to get loose and kill all the humans in sight without forethought as to why or what they would taste like.

The majority of the book could be summed up as "a noir in the modern world, but many of the characters are dinosaurs". If both parts of that idea appeal to you, you're likely to enjoy it.

Recommended by Clare Chippindale. Followed by Casual Rex.

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