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Old 08-05-2011, 11:33 PM
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It was recently suggested to me that I write a series of synopses for my first novel to give people an idea of what the story is about... different agents/ publishers prefer different things; some require a full, blow-by-blow synopsis of the story and its structure (which would be too long and far too full of spoilers to put up here!), others like just a single sentence or tagline, and still others want a blurb which describes the general sweep and scope of the story... so, here goes!

As I find myself once again without much to do this evening (a very nice feeling I might add - everything is cleaned, fed and watered) I thought I'd put up my efforts here to see what you all thought. Not that these give any indication of the story or its themes, but here goes! The first novel is named "Rising Dragon" and it is the first of a series entitled "After Colonisation"...

I - THE TAGLINE:

"At the end of Time the adventure begins..."


II - THE PARAGRAPH

"The Empire of Mankind is shattered, and the piratical orns and predatory raptors battle amidst the ruins. In the nation of Iberia, the light of hope is fading, beset from all sides by darkness. The remnants of mankind cower behind the walls of their bastion-cities, awaiting their fates either at the hands of these inhuman adversaries, or from the Abylan warlords who broke with their kin a millennium earlier. However, even a faint light shines brightest surrounded by darkness, for in this time without hope the Sword Saints will rise..."


III - THE BLURB

"The Empire of Mankind has fallen, and only two nations remain as testament to a civilization that once spanned the stars: Iberia, a feudal kingdom that still keeps faith in the mysterious goddesses that spared them final judgment, and Abyla, formed by the warlords that broke with Iberia a millennium earlier.

In the wake of Mankind's fall from grace another species, the orns, arose to claim dominion over the world. As their armies descend upon mankind, the people once more turn to the goddesses for aid, and a wave of religious fervour and mysticism overtakes Iberia. Meanwhile, the secretive Order of the Zodiac plots in the shadows and schemes of mankind's ascension to his rightfull place amongst the heavens.

In this time of portents and prophecies, SAOSHYANT OTIAKO, son of nobility, lives as a vagrant, wandering the land as a scholar-warrior and taking as his teachers the very elements around him. In the city of Mons Calpe he encounters a fearsome enemy and also meets ASURIELLE, a beautiful but conflicted warrrior-woman with a shocking past. Together they become Sword Saints, servants of mystical blades rumoured to be as old as creation itself.

However, Mons Calpe is faced with dire peril. The orns have set their sights on this mighty fortress and an army now marches with the intention of reducing it to rubble. In the lengthy siege that ensues, Saoshyant will come face to face with not only a deadly adversary, but also with secrets from his past that threaten to destroy his future.

Will this hero fall before he has a chance to rise?"

I have a bunch of other geeky/ nerdy "articles" I could put up if there was any interest, mostly ruminating on a bizarre mish-mash of subjects like martial arts, dinosaurs, fashion, religion and such like...

Regards,
Francis
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:54 AM
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Sounds like my kind of novel Francis, love sci-fi/fantasy.

You have me hooked, now feed me the novel as it progresses and I'll critique it for you as you go

On a serious note, sounds very interesting, how far have you got? Have you approached any publishers yet?
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:23 AM
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You have me hooked
me too!
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Old 09-05-2011, 11:47 AM
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me three ......sound great cant wait for the real deal
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Old 09-05-2011, 11:51 AM
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Signed copies for cb forumites????
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jinja View Post
Sounds like my kind of novel Francis, love sci-fi/fantasy.

You have me hooked, now feed me the novel as it progresses and I'll critique it for you as you go

On a serious note, sounds very interesting, how far have you got? Have you approached any publishers yet?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott W View Post
me too!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pip View Post
me three ......sound great cant wait for the real deal
Thanks all... without giving too much away at this early stage, the series is drafted to be thirteen "books" long, although I may double or triple up on some volumes so it may be nearer five or six (much longer) books that have discrete storylines... that's something the agent/ publishers will have to decide when the time comes.

The entire story is drafted out, the first three books scene-by-scene (also the eighth book, for interest's sake) and the first novel is about two thirds of the way completed in it's "final" form...

I have not approached any publishers myself (I don't want to until I have at least the first book complete and something tangible in my hand) but I have already had some interest in it from several sources.... I don't want to jinx it at this point so all I will say is all that remains is a test for the writer to get the thing written in its entirety!


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Signed copies for cb forumites????
Hell yeah!
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Old 09-05-2011, 12:31 PM
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Writing a novel by night is fulfilling and all, but there just come times when you get bored, drained and just plain frazzled by staring at a computer screen for six hours straight... the creative process is a HARD one (at least, it is for me!) so to unwind I like to switch my “novel” mode off and write about something else… y’see, I believe it's important to maintain a flow of writing to get past these bouts of “writer's block.” Doesn’t matter what it is, and it almost invariably will get discarded the following morning, but it really HELPS! (Hmm… writing as a remedy for writer’s block… there’s definitely irony in there somewhere, but it’s too late and I’m too tired to see it…). Writing on here is one way, but I am going to use this thread as an outpouring of what I excites me with my books at the moment… and right now what excites me is DINOSAURS!

I hope you'll all indulge my ramblings – for those interested, I hope it will be an interesting “sneak peek” and an informative foray into the mind of “that weirdo Francis,” and to my detractors – well, you can use it as further proof of my total geekiness! I’m sure I’ll be embarrassed about it in the morning… *grins*

So without further ado, I present the first of hopefully many articles describing the world and thought processes behind After Colonisation (that’s the working title of my series of novels).


THE TAUROC

The orns worship it as Tauroc, their God of Hunger, and with good reason. It will eat anything.”

Meaden-Da Otiako,
Rising Dragon I: Rock of Ages

The territorial carnosaurs worshipped as “Tauroc” by the orns are known to them as gods of Hunger – and this sums them up perfectly. They are large, rotund predators with short horns above their brow and a very deep and powerful jaw. Although they are dangerous creatures, they are also known to be extremely territorial and generally stay within a particular area around their lair. The orns place totems depicting their god Tauroc around this territory to warn others of the presence of one or more of these fearsome beasts. A few are still known to roam the volcanic mountains of Cantabria, and the pair encountered by Meaden-Da and Christian Otiako in their younger days still inhabit the vast catacombs in Calpe where the brothers narrowly avoided becoming a meal.

Although shielded by an incredibly tough hide and by their sheer bulk, Tauroc are not as ferocious as Coatliques and their attacks can sometimes be fought off when enough good Iberian spears are brought to bear. Nonetheless they make incredibly dangerous foes – woe betide any that stray into their territory!

Author’s Notes: The Tauroc is the first of the giant carnosaurs to be referred to in my novels. It is based on one of my favourite dinosaurs, Carnotaurus sastrei, a large, strange-looking predator from South America. The short, deep, bull-like head and wing-like horns above the eyes gives this creature a characteristic devil-like appearance I have always found very appealing, and the fact that it is one of the few carnosaurs of which fossilised skin impressions have been found further increases its appeal to me – it was covered in armour-like scutes and spines (called osteoderms). In life, this beast must have been impressive indeed!

The armoured skin and horns are perhaps the most iconic features of this creature, but it actually had several other unusual characteristics; the forearms were miniscule, dwarfing even those of Tyrannosaurus in proportion to the body. I mean, T-rex is well known for having tiny little arms, but this thing has even less, barely stubs. Also, the head is very oddly shaped, very deep and box-like, giving it an unmistakable appearance.

Fans of the Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park novels (to which I make reference as they are really the main window in the consciousness of the general public to dinosaurs these days) might remember Carnotaurus as the chameleonic dinosaurs of The Lost World. However, here they are presented more realistically, as big, armoured predators that lord over their territories and scare the bejesus out of anything that crosses their path...


THE COATLIQUE
“It looks angry...”
Saoshyant Otiako,
Rising Dragon III: The Strength of Dragons

Perhaps the fiercest of the giant carnosaurs is the Coatlique, which is an old orn name for their god of War - and with good reason, for there is no more fearsome or bloodthirsty predator. Fortunately they are very rare and virtually unknown within the protective wall of Iberia’s Pyrenees mountain range, but every now and again one finds its way over the mountains to wreak havoc upon the cultivated lands below.

The Coatlique has immense crocodile-like jaws and an enlarged claw on each hand that it uses to tear great wounds in its prey; it is known to attack much larger animals. Not even a Tarasque would cower such a monster and there are several reports of titanic clashes between the two species. Such a battle is usually to the death; although rather smaller than a Tarasque, Coatliques are so aggressive that they never back down in such a conflict.

Author’s Notes: The second of the series’ “Four Great Behemoths” is Baryonyx and this species, more than any of the others, is the recurring “big scary dinosaur baddie.” I wanted a creature that wasn’t as clichéd as the regular Tyrannosaur-like predators of other dinosaur stories, and this crocodile-headed monster fits the bill nicely.

This type of dinosaur has a lower, sleeker profile than other carnosaurs and a longer, crocodile-like head. It is also armed with a fearsome weapon, a ferocious talon on the first finger of each hand, and unlike other big theropods it has long and well-developed arms. The popular image of this creature is of a fish-eating predator, but as well as fossilised fish scales being found in the first specimen uncovered, others have been found with the remains of other dinosaurs like Iguanodon in their bellies, proving that it ate other creatures at least some of the time! Despite not appearing as powerful as other carnosaurs in the same size-range, this monster would be perfectly adapted to terrorize human-sized prey!

On a note of scientific accuracy, I have taken some artistic license with the size of the Baryonyx in my novels. Estimates for the historical specimens of Baryonyx walkeri put it at between seven and nine metres in length; the Baryonyx in After Colonisation reaches a larger size of around eleven to twelve metres, putting it almost into the same size bracket as Tyrannosaurus (although considerably lighter and lower in build). Since other very similar species in the same family as Baryonyx (namely, Irritator and Suchomimus) have been found to be this size, and since the dinosaurs in my stories are not presented “as-is,” but rather as representatives of their genus given the chance to evolve a few million years, this isn’t really a very huge discrepancy. Also, recent finds in Portugal suggest a new species of Baryonyx that may have indeed grown to these lengths.

On the subject of the “bloodthirstiness” of the Baryonyx in After Colonisation (in one scene, it attacks a herd of cattle in their paddock and slaughters the lot just because they are moving about!) is not so much to make the creature “scarier” for the story, but rather was inspired by watching my little Wall lizards eating crickets… long after they have had enough to eat, several of them will continue to kill crickets, inspect them to make sure they are dead, and then just ignore them. I figured, well, foxes do it in chicken coops, so why wouldn’t a marauding Baryonyx kill all the cattle trapped in their paddock since they would be milling about in front of it…? It’s a dramatic scene and one that really nails this creature as the fearsome antagonist for that book (I’ll give away that it first appears in Rising Dragon III: The Strength of Dragons).



THE LOUCINGLANT
A Loucinglant is a fearsome, cave-dwelling species of dinosaur that haunts the labyrinthine caves of the Pallid Mountains. These creatures are venomous and are regarded by the orns as gods of Disease and Pestilence. Most famous was Shibboleth’s “pretty”, which the insane magician kept as a pet – and an amusing way to dispose of unwanted slaves or prisoners…

Author’s Notes: Of all the dinosaurs featured in my story, this is the only one not based on a real creature, but rather an amalgamation of ideas and various dinosaurs and other animals. I don’t want to give away too much about it, as its mystery is somewhat integral to the plot of one of the books, but I will divulge that the creature will have roots in the newer discoveries concerning dinosaurs with venom. Yes, you read correctly, at least one species of dinosaur is now thought to have been venomous – no, not the spitting Dilophosaurus of Jurassic Park (although, boy did Michael Crichton call that idea!) but a genus of small Chinese predators known as Sinornithosaurus.

It was a controversial find, of a dinosaur skull with grooved teeth and a hollow space in the skull palate that may have housed a venom gland, and what makes it even more exciting is that many other carnivorous dinosaurs have previously been found with grooved teeth – suggesting that they too – like the Komodo dragon today – may also have been venomous…

However, venom isn’t all my Loucinglant has in its biological arsenal, not by a long shot…


THE TARASQUE
“Wow, that’s a big one, isn’t it? I’m glad I got to see one before I die. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as if I’m going to see anything else before I die, does it?”
Saoshyant Otiako,
Voyage of the Penitent II: The Marduk Expedition

Taurocs and Coatliques are terrifying monsters, to be sure, and it would take half an army to bring one down, but out in the unexplored jungles of Asia and the savannahs of Abyla south of the Psammas Saharicus there exist other, even more massive beasts; giant super-predators that fear nothing and rule over all they see. Such beasts are fortunately rare and few Iberians or Abylans have ever set eyes upon one. The orns know, however, for they remember the tales passed down from generation to generation over their long migration from Asia to Europa. They remember the tales of Tyrannosaurus: Tarasque, the God of Death…

Author’s Notes: Hmm. I don’t want to say too much here, and spoil the surprise. The Carnotaurus and Baryonyx are both creatures that appear in the early books, but this monster is one I will be saving up for later…

Instead, I’ll just ramble on a little about the creative process. Surely no true dinosaur fan could bear to see a story involving dinosaurs without at least a nod to Tyrannosaurus rex, the Daddy Of Them All. I mentioned before that I didn’t want such a big cliché, but come on, seriously, NO Tyrannosaurus?

Well, it just so happens that there is a loophole, given that several more recently discovered carnosaurs rival or even exceed the classic Tyrannosaurus in size; the three most well known are Giganotosaurus, Carcharadontosaurus and the infamous Spinosaurus (which debuted in the minds of the masses in Jurassic Park III). All three are cool dinosaurs. All three exceeded, if not necessarily in mass, then in length, the iconic T-rex.

Firstly, Spinosaurus. Here I have to indulge my need to set the record straight regarding THAT scene in Jurassic Park III: you know the one, the one where a ridiculously disproportionate and anatomically incorrect Spinosaurus kills a T-rex. Now, I love Spinosaurus, always have, it’s one of the coolest dinosaurs that ever lived, and yes, it really did exceed the length of Tyrannosaurus by several metres – but people seem to have overlooked its MUCH lighter frame and slighter build (plus that sail of spines/ hump - depending on who you read - would have been a liability). Despite the fact the two species were separated by two continents and a period of millions of years, IF they had ever squared off, it would have been like pitting a Greyhound against a Rottweiler…

In addition, I feel having a Spinosaurus would be cheating, too obvious a nod to its Jurassic Park incarnation. The fact that I already had one crocodile-headed predator (Baryonyx, which was in the same family) in the story also weighed against it. I’m not nay-saying that there are Spinosaurs in my fictional world (in fact, given the ecosystems and continents I have been drawing my creatures from, I would say it is actually likely they are present) they just don’t figure in my plans for After Colonisation.

Next are Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus, both were very similar beasts and both outgrew Tyrannosaurus (Giganotosaurus definitely did, the one with the ridiculously hard to type name was at least around the same size). In addition, both species actually suit the ecosystems I have based the ones in After Colonisation on – those of Cretaceous South America and North Africa, with their respective megafauna.

However, having ruled out Spinosaurus (which perhaps suited my taste for the unusual a little better), I felt it would be a low blow to Tyrannosaurus to write him out in favour of one of these pretenders to his throne as true King of the Tyrant Lizards… There will always be arguments as to which would win in an imaginary duel – much like people will always argue over which would win between a lion and a tiger.

Personally, I’ll always back my boy T-rex. For one thing, from the shape of its skull we see it was much more advanced than either of its two competitors (having evolved tens of millions of years later and surviving until the end of the reign of the dinosaurs); its braincase was twice as big as that of Giganotosaurus, it had forward-facing eyes with binocular vision (not like the sideways pointing eyes of the other two) and, most importantly, truly immense jaw muscles that would have given it a bite force hugely more powerful than that of its rivals; contrary to popular imagination, this was a creature adapted to crushing animals like Triceratops and the armoured Ankylosaurus. It had the biggest teeth yet found for any dinosaur; it was more compact and heavily built (although Giganotosaurus may have massed slightly more); this was a dinosaur adapted for killing its prey with one crushing bite, not savaging it the way the more primitive Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus would have.

So, it was decided (maybe it had always been decided) that Tyrannosaurus rex would indeed make a return appearance as the true dinosaur badass of After Colonisation; it’ll take a long time getting there, but I promise you the scenes in which Tarasque does appear will be dramatic and, hopefully, worth the wait!


Well, I hope all that whetted your appetites, or at least provided a few minutes idle distraction; in my next feature I intend to cover some of the smaller, but no less dangerous hunters (in fact in story terms they are far more important than “The Big Three” – Carnotaurus, Baryonyx and Tyrannosaurus – those who have read my earlier books or skimmed through the early drafts for After Colonisation will surely recognise names such as “Jararaca” and “Cascabel”…)

Best wishes,
Francis
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:35 PM
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Francis... Quite a few years ago I was friends with Jayne and Robert Potter. I used to go up to Ross a lot and got to meet their father, Dennis Potter.
He told me he wrote everyday.... Some days it was work some days it was getting things ordered in his mind and other days just rubbish..... But he felt writing everyday helped in the creative process....
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:48 PM
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“If one can’t find at least some excitement at the prospect of being chased by Raptors, one shouldn’t be doing it.”
(Solitaire, Voyage of the Penitent II: The Marduk Expedition)

Those of you actually bothering to read all these notes as an introduction to the world of After Colonisation may be surprised to find out it ISN’T a dinosaur story. This isn’t a book about dinosaurs, in the way Jurassic Park is. It’s a book set in a world where dinosaurs are part of everyday life. The stories could be likened to a period novel set in India or Africa; the story doesn’t primarily concern tigers and elephants, lions and rhinos, but the reader more or less assumes these creatures are present. Now and then they may even make a cameo appearance; a dagger with an ivory handle, a tiger skin worn by a warrior; a jungle trip on the back of an elephant, and so on. The same thing applies in my books. My stories are about people (more or less… there may be a couple of exceptions *cough* Cascabel *cough*), but they take place in a world where dinosaurs have somehow risen once more to dominate the land (don’t ask me how or why, it’s officially one of the big secrets of After Colonisation…).

From the beginning, I knew I didn’t want dinosaurs to appear in this story as token “monsters” or “action sequences”. I don’t want a book where a dinosaur pops out now and then, chases the characters, and then they resume their adventure. The world of After Colonisation is literally CRAWLING with dinosaurs and similar creatures; they are as much a part of it as the landscapes, castles and environments. What I’ve really tried to convey is how they affect the everyday life of the human cities; how they’ve influenced cultures, beliefs, architecture, defences, farming and agriculture and so on. Dinosaurs are present in all aspects of life in this world; they appear as herd animals, companion animals, pets, sources of food, mounts, pests, minor inconveniences and (obviously) their traditional role as dangerous predators to run away screaming from.

For a hint of how primitive villagers might coexist alongside these creatures, one only has to look at the example of Komodo island, perhaps the only present-day culture analogous to the state of affairs in After Colonisation. The people on this island live in straw and stick huts supported on high stilts as they are forced to share their space with the Komodo dragons. These giant lizards have been known to kill humans every so often. If ten foot long lizards can cause such a hassle for people, imagine what it would be like sharing your farmlands and plantations with predators two, three or even six times as long… and we get an inkling of the problems faced by the people of After Colonisation

Now, I’m not saying the cultures of my books are so primitive they are forced to live in stick and mud huts – quite the contrary in fact; the Iberians are famous for their mighty bastion-cities with their great walls and towers, encircled by smaller walls and defences to discourage, not invading armies (although they help deal with these too!), but errant dinosaurs… but elsewhere the more primitive and tribal orns, kurgans and yusaks have to deal with a similar state of affairs as those Komodo islanders…

So, I think it’s safe to say dinosaurs are an ever-present part of the story’s background (this is ME after all!). Whilst the story’s various human protagonists fight, quest, politic, brood and grow throughout the major plot threads and story structure, a parade of weird and wonderful beasts moves about in the background… that’s not to say that one of those pesky lizards doesn’t forget its place and try to hog a spell in the limelight now and then, though… being chased by an angry Baryonyx tends to rearrange one’s priorities for the immediate future after all!


ON THE FAUNA OF A CHANGED WORLD
All the above out of the way, I can now get to the good stuff and reveal some of the species that made the cut, and how they fit in with the world around them. Like any good dinosaur fanatic, I have tried to be faithful to what is known about these fantastic beasts, while at the same time injecting them into a plausible ecosystem. Obviously for brevity I can’t comment on all the little details here, but suffice to say I have been quite thorough in my adherence to known fossil material (I actually have a rough guide compiled in my research with each individual catalogue number and relevant scientific paper for each bone/fossil/skeleton…).

In story terms, there are three major zoogeographical areas of importance; Iberia (basically what was once Spain, Portugal and part of southern France), Abyla (north Africa) and “the green hell” – Asia. Iberia and Abyla are colonised; but the most interesting, diverse and rich area, and the one I’ll be giving an overview of in this note, is the “green hell” of Asia.

Now, in After Colonisation, most of the world is changed and a mystery. Mankind has recolonised Iberia and northern Africa, but everything else is new, exciting and dangerous… Millions of years have passed since the end of man’s civilisation; the continents have moved, sea levels have risen and mountain ranges have moved across continents.

I won’t be spoiling the story too much by saying that much of the “middle” sectionof the series consists of an epic journey, an expedition into the heart of the unknown by intrepid explorers from Iberia and Abyla in a joint venture to fill in a few more of the blank areas on the map…(there are other, more secretive and political reasons for each side but I won’t go into that here). I drew my inspiration here from epic pioneers, explorers and conquerors like Livingstone in Africa, Marco Polo on the Silk Road, Magellan, Columbus, Pizarro, Cortes and so on…

Anyway, one of the most important segments of the story takes place in an area of fertile marshes, floodplains, meadows, forest and savannah. As I said elsewhere I have based the ecosystems on those of early Cretaceous South America (specifically Argentina) and Africa…

Although most of the historically “famous” dinosaurs tend to come from North America, the places I have chosen actually have far more diverse and interesting species, and the early Cretaceous is for me the best period of the Age of the Dinosaurs to draw inspiration from; the giant herbivores had their heyday in the Jurassic, but by the late Cretaceous had largely disappeared, replaced by the horned ceratopsians and the duckbills; those beautifully bizarre stegosaurs died out and were replaced by the ankylosaurs… but the early Cretaceous… that was the magic age, the age where the big and bizarre Jurassic families still had a foothold, and the first of the newer families were beginning to radiate… in other words, the best of both worlds!

So, a brief (and definitely incomplete) list and explanation of some of the species I’ll be featuring… Note I have omitted the specific names and included only generic ones; this is because the dinosaurs are assumed to have evolved over the millions of years; I may refer to the Tyrannosaur as "T-rex" but actually, it from a scientific viewpoint it wouldn't be the species rex at all... Anyway:


Olorotitan: A large duckbilled dinosaur with a fan-shaped crest; less bound to marshy habitat than Charonosaurus (below); like the cassowary the crest serves not just as a display structure and resonating chamber, but also helps keep branches out of this largely forest-living creature’s face. Like other duckbills, these are gentle grazing animals that move about in herds. Their neck is relatively long for a duckbill, enabling it to access a wider food spectrum than its relatives; this enables it to coexist well with Charonosaurus where the two species occur together.



Charonosaurus: A duckbilled dinosaur even larger than Olorotitan (at around 13-15 metres, one of the largest ever discovered in fact, and the largest named species of hadrosaur in After Colonisation. This species is a dead-ringer for its smaller cousin, the better-known Parasaurolophus (both had long, tube like crests sweeping from the back of the skull).

These are semi-aquatic, marshland species adapted to graze on marginal and aquatic plants. They are creatures of floodplains and deltas. Among the creatures of After Colonisation, these are amongst the most beautiful (and fancifully designed)… in my story, I have modelled their colour scheme on both Electric Blue Geckos and the Morpho butterfly… in other words, the males are a shiny, very iridescent blue with a brown-black lateral line. Colour intensity combines with size of the crest to determine the highest-ranking breeding males, and their displays are further intensified by the incredibly loud honking thanks to the outlandish crest, which functions as a resonating chamber… the calls of a rutting Charonosaurus can be heard for tens of miles.

The garishly bright, iridescent colouration also serves one other purpose; to confuse marauding predators. The sight of a herd of shiny blue dinosaurs milling about randomly is often enough to confuse an attacking Baryonyx.

Miragaia: A member of the increasingly rare and out competed Stegosaur family, this middle-sized herbivore survives by virtue of its long neck; much longer than those of other stegosaurs, it actually has more vertebrae than most sauropod necks (sauropods are the giant long-necked dinosaurs like Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus). This adaptation enables it to browse at a higher level than its relatives, enabling to adapt to new environments more easily. Although a species of Miragaia is fairly common in Iberia, a second, larger species exists in the forests of Asia.

Nigersaurus: The “living lawnmower” – a small sauropod that reaches around 10 metres, with a unique and unusually shaped mouth full of grinding teeth for grazing. Unlike its much larger relatives, this species is remarkably light and nimble for its size thanks to the lightweight, birdlike structure of its bones, and it can move at quite a pace for a sauropod – witnessing a group of them at full gallop is a beautiful and awesome sight. Another resident of the light forests and grassy floodplains, it exists alongside duckbills, although in smaller groups and never in such large populations.

Amagasaurus: Another small to medium-sized sauropod, this is a species of the drier savannahs that reaches between 10 and 15 metres. It is most notable for the twin sails running down its neck and back which give the creature an impressive, dragon-like appearance. Despite this it is totally harmless and inoffensive; the sails are used in threat displays; by virtue of a network of blood vessels in the sail and dense concentrations of chromatophores, the animal can “blush”, changing the sail’s colour when antagonised. This, combined with the fearsome clattering sound made when the sails are vibrates together, creates an intimidating defensive display – although what kind of creature could pose a threat to a dinosaur this size remains a mystery…

Saltasaurus: The regions east of Europa are notable for the numbers of sauropod species still roaming the land; this family is non-existent in Iberia and the range of only one species (Paralititan) extends into the deserts of Abyla. One species found on the Marduk Expedition is Saltasaurus, a sauropod with an armour-plated back – although once again, the prospect of a predator able to threaten such a large creature is a disturbing one…

Paralititan: The largest land animal of After Colonisation; an immense sauropod that reaches around 25 metres long. This species is known in Abyla, although it is only found beyond the eastern borders. There are stories of orn and kurgan tribes outfitting trained Paralititan (or “Thunder Lizards”) to be ridden to war…

Ceratosaurus: Of all the dinosaurs of After Colonisation, this genus is the most anachronistic (i.e. historically it lived much earlier than the other species on show). However, it also happens to be one of my favourite dinosaurs so I could hardly ignore it, could I? I have big plans for my beloved Ceratosaurs…

“Nasicorns” as they are popularly known, have a deep and convoluted history in the culture of Iberia. At twenty-five feet in length, these horned carnivores rove the lands in packs, following herds of larger plant eaters. They can be very dangerous to travellers, but in parts of the nation (especially around the volcanic regions of Cantabria and Burgos) they have long been revered as the mounts for the legendary Nasicorn Riders. Elsewhere, orns have also been known to train these creatures as mounts, and apocryphal legends tell of an ancient hero, the wielder of the fabled black sword, who rode a Nasicorn to war…

There are several species of Ceratosaurus in the story, ranging from the larger Iberian species to the smaller eastern species and those that inhabit the arid regions of the Psammas Saharicus. Of course, having different species means I can have them outfitted in different colour schemes…


Microraptor: Tiny, feathered, climbing dinosaurs with four wings (yes, four – both the arms and legs were adapted into wings!) allowing for incredible manoeuvrability in flight, these tree-living little critters are attractive, easily tamed and trained, and highly valued as pets; dozens of species can be found in wire cages in markets and bazaars across Abyla and Iberia. In the wild they eat lizards, insects and small birds, but a tame individual will happily accept scraps and other tidbits from the hand.

In the story, the character Asurielle falls in love with one of these she finds in a market stall and keeps it near her on a silver chain… She names the creature “Gui” (a tribute to the specific name of Microraptor) and when it isn’t on her shoulder, it lives on a specially made perch inside her caravan.



The megafauna of the uncharted Asian realm plays a crucial role at several points in the story, with several iconic scenes depicted amongst the multitudinous herds. Of course, there are more than just dinosaurs walking, swimming, crawling and flapping across the world of After Colonisation, and what is offered here is merely the briefest smattering of the species I have in store (those interested may notice the lack of raptors, ankylosaurs and ceratopsians, for example) – and that’s only because I just happen to be working on colour schemes for the above species tonight, hence my eagerness to wax on and on about them!

Besides, I can always come back and write another little article on some of the species I’ve missed… *Grins*

Best wishes,
Francis
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:14 PM
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Very interesting read. Sounds like you have a few years of your life mapped out writing these. I look forward to reading more.
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