Dinotopia is a fictional utopia created by author and illustrator James Gurney. It is the setting for the book series with which it shares its name. Dinotopia is an isolated island inhabited by shipwrecked humans and sentient dinosaurs who have learned to coexist peacefully as a single symbiotic society. The first book has "appeared in 18 languages in more than 30 countries and sold two million copies." Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time and Dinotopia: The World Beneath both won Hugo awards for best original artwork.
Since its original publication, over twenty Dinotopia books have been published by various authors to expand the series. A live-action TV mini-series, a brief live-action TV series, an animated film, and several video games have also been released.
The name "Dinotopia" is a portmanteau of "dinosaur" and "utopia". Ironically, in Greek "Dinotopia" (Δεινοτοπία) means "terrible place" or "land of suffering", since the original Greek word for "dinosaur" (δεινόσαυρος) translates as "terrible lizard" and is made up of the words for "terrible" (δεινός, dinos) and "lizard" (σαύρα, savra, transliterated as saura). "Utopia" in Greek loosely translates as "a land or place that does not exist", and is made up of a negative interjection meaning roughly "no" (ου, ou) and the word for "place" (τόπος, topos). The disillusioned character Lee Crabb points out this linguistic discrepancy in the first book, claiming that humans on the island are slaves to dinosaurs.
Gurney's assignments for National Geographic magazine required him to work with archaeologists to envision and paint ancient cities that no one alive today has ever seen. This inspired him to imagine his own, so he painted "Waterfall City" and "Dinosaur parade". These were originally done as "art prints for collectors". He later decided to create an imaginary island based on these paintings.
Rather than digital tools, Gurney used "plein-air studies, thumbnail sketches, models photographed in costume and original cardboard or clay maquettes" to create 150 oil paintings for his 2007 Dinotopia book.
Many have claimed that some scenes in the film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (particularly those in the city of Theed on Naboo) unfairly copy images from Gurney's books. Gurney acknowledges the resemblance but has remained positive about it. In 1994, director George Lucas had met with producers to discuss some of the concepts and visuals behind a Dinotopia movie that was never made.
Upon the hidden island of Dinotopia, humans and dinosaurs live and work together in harmony with one another and with the Earth itself. It is a place of beauty and wonder lost to the rest of the world. The island itself is surrounded by a storm system and dangerous reefs that prevent safe travel to or from the island.
Aside from a highly diverse ecosystem ranging from deserts to mountains to swamps, Dinotopia also has an extensive system of natural and man-made caves.
The dinosaurs, according to their own legends, have inhabited the island for millions of years, having sought shelter in the underground caverns during the climate changes that caused the extinction of dinosaurs elsewhere on the planet.
The caverns are referred to as the World Beneath, and many dinosaurs go there to die. According to legends, a half-man-half ceratopsian being named Ogthar climbed down there (where the sun is said to sleep at night) and stole pieces of it (known as "sunstones"), using them to create the empire of Poseidos and populating it with metal dinosaurs. However, the sea grew angry with the artificial city and rose to destroy it. It is implied that this is where the Atlantis myth originated.
The human population consists of shipwrecked travelers called Dolphinbacks (who are often rescued and brought to shore by dolphins) and the descendants of such arrivals. As such, they often fall into cultural zones based on the societies from whence their ancestors came, creating a cultural landscape across the island that is both unified and incredibly diverse.
Dinosaurs are not the only prehistoric creatures on the island. In the higher regions of the Forbidden Mountains (a Himalaya-like mountain chain), woolly mammoths, giant ground sloths, Chalicotheres, Sabre-toothed cats, and other prehistoric mammals can be found. At least one Lystrosaurus and one Edaphosaurus can be found in the city of Pooktook. Pterosaurs are also common, especially the Quetzalcoatlus skybax, which serve as steeds for the skybax messenger riders.
The center of the island is made up of a dense rainforest called the "Rainy Basin". This place is where most of the island's large carnivores live, such as Giganotosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Allosaurus. They are just as sentient as the other dinosaurs on the island but must be kept apart due to their instinctual need to hunt. They have their own language yet it is very deep and guttural and difficult even for other dinosaurs to speak or understand fluently. The Basin is cut off from the rest of the island by a series of retractable bridges. There are caravans that make passages through the basin and are made up by very large sauropod dinosaurs outfitted with heavy suits of armor studded with sharp spikes and carry offerings of meat to appease any carnivores they meet. Often, a dinosaur that senses it will die soon will make a pilgrimage to the basin and die there so that it may be eaten by the carnivores and continue to contribute to the good of the island as a whole. The carnivores are actually very respectful of this and always wait for the dinosaur to pass peacefully, never attacking them while alive. The basin is divided by packs of predators, one ruled by giganotosaurs, the other ruled by tyrannosaurs.
Both halves of the dinotopian society share responsibility equally and live under a common set of laws known as the Code of Dinotopia. The society is highly communal, lacking a monetary system or even a concrete concept of ownership. Individuals are educated from youth to be compassionate, co-operative, and generally conscious of others' needs. For example, food on the island is provided at no cost, but citizens take only what they need and leave the rest for others. Stealing or other crime is virtually non-existent.
Dinotopia began as an illustrated children's book called Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time. It was a huge cross-over success, appealing to both children and adult readers, which led James Gurney to write and illustrate three more books called Dinotopia: The World Beneath, Dinotopia: First Flight and most recently Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. They all deal with the adventures of Arthur and Will Denison to one degree or another. These are considered the main books of the series and establish the fictional world in which the others are set.
A children's flip-up version of the first book was also issued.
The Dinotopia Digest series consists of sixteen young adult novels penned by several different authors. These books feature other characters who are not specifically involved with the events of the main books, although characters from the main books (particularly the Denisons) have appeared in minor or cameo roles.
Two full-length adult fantasy novels were also issued with Gurney's authority, written by Alan Dean Foster: Dinotopia Lost and Hand of Dinotopia.
Several video games, as well as a TV mini-series, a short-lived TV series, and an animated children's movie, were also produced. These are also set in the Dinotopia universe, but do not tie in directly with the main series. Most of them take place in the modern world, unlike the books, which are mostly set in the mid-19th century.
The plot of the main Dinotopia books concerns Arthur Denison and his son, Will, and the various people they meet in their travels in Dinotopia. The first and fourth books are written as if they were Arthur's journals, with Gurney going so far as to explain in the introductions how he happened to come across the old, waterlogged volumes.
A Land Apart from Time
In Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time (1992), the Denisons are shipwrecked near Dinotopia and, after making it ashore, are found by the people of the Hatchery. The Hatchery is a place where dinosaurs are born, tended by both dinosaurs and humans. The Denisons then set out to explore the island, hoping to find a means of returning to their old lives. Although the story is set in 1862, Arthur Denison mentions Tyrannosaurus Rex; however, Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History, named Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1905, long after the events in Dinotopia are supposed to take place, although it is possible that the Dinotopians were the first to discover Tyrannosaurus and coincidentally gave it the same name.
Arthur and Will undergo a broad journey, circling the island, as they endeavor to learn the customs and culture of their new neighbors. Arthur in particular develops an interest in the scientific accomplishments of the natives, which far exceed that of any human culture. Among the subjects he studies are the flora of the island, the partnership of its inhabitants, and the existence of a place known as the World Beneath. This World Beneath is an explanation for Dinotopians surviving the saurian extinction; according to the story, most of the Earth's dinosaurs were destroyed, whilst a few hid in vast underground caverns. These few became the original Dinotopians. No one has entered the World Beneath for centuries, but Arthur intends to do so.
His son Will, on the other hand, has chosen to train as a messenger of the sky; a Skybax rider, who lives in symbiosis with his mount, the great Quetzalcoatlus (nicknamed Skybax), a species of pterosaur. Training alongside Will is a girl called Sylvia, with whom Will falls in love. The natives refer to this and any other profound bond as Cumspiritik, which literally means "together-breathing." (Romana Denison of the later Dinotopia film series is said to be Will's daughter.)
Arthur, for his part, travels into the World Beneath, at the same time that Will and Sylvia are learning to fly with the Skybax. When he returns, he is fascinated by the ancient relics found there and is convinced that they may be key in enabling him to leave or explore the island.
Meanwhile, Will and Sylvia learn and master Skybax flight. When at last they have been accepted as Riders, they travel to meet Arthur and his Protoceratops guide Bix, but are distracted on the way by a thunderstorm. Luckily, they survive and arrive on time to meet their kin. Will is at the time too young to marry Sylvia, but it is promised that they will. Arthur recognizes that his son has grown up, and they each accept the changes that are results of their new lives on the island.
- Protoceratops – The character Bix is a Protoceratops
- Stegosaurus – Appear throughout the book as background characters.
- Triceratops – Appear throughout the book as background characters. The character Brokehorn is a Triceratops.
- Ankylosaurus – Appear throughout the book as background characters.
- Styracosaurus – Appear throughout the book as background characters.
- Pachycephalosaurus – Appear throughout the book as background characters. The character Gastrolith is a Pachycephalosaurus.
- Unidentified Iguanodontids – One of the genera of dinosaur at the Romanos hatchery.
- Oviraptor (called "Ovinutrix" – egg nurse) – The hatchery nurses.
- Maiasaura – One of the genera of dinosaur at the hatchery
- Brachiosaurus (called "Brach" – bus) – appear throughout the series as background characters.
- Eucentrosaurus – Appear throughout the series as background characters.
- Lystrosaurus – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook.
- Archaeopteryx – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook.
- Compsognathus – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook.
- Edaphosaurus – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook.
- Muttaburrasaurus – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook.
- Dimorphodon – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook. The Dinotopian version of carrier pigeons.
- Tuojiangosaurus – One of the many animals living in the city of Pooktook.
- Rutiodon – Shown helping with the bellows in the casting and forging room at Volcaneum.
- Unidentified Pareiasaur – One of the animals in the casting and forging room at Volcaneum.
- Pterodactylus – One of the animals in the casting and forging room at Volcaneum.
- Quetzalcoatlus skybax – Appear throughout the series as the mounts of the Skybax riders.
- Ceratosaurus – Shown greeting a Skybax rider at volcaneum.
- Lambeosaurus – The Habitat partner Paddlefoot is a Lambeosaurus.
- Parasaurolophus (sometimes called "Overlander" – Dinotopian version horses) –
- Corythosaurus – A genus of Hadrosaur living in Hadro swamp
- Hylaeosaurus – One of the armoured dinosaurs that warn Arthur, Bix, and Will about the rapids near Waterfall city
- Polacanthus – One of the armoured dinosaurs that warn Arthur, Bix, and Will about the rapids near Waterfall city
- Euoplocephalus – One of the armoured dinosaurs that warn Arthur, Bix, and Will about the rapids near Waterfall city
- Troodon (called Stenonychosaurus) – Malik the timekeeper of Dinotopia is a Troodon.
- Deinonychus – Enit the chief librarian of Waterfall city is a Deinonychus.
- Chasmosaurus – Appear throughout the series as background characters.
- Ornithomimus – Featured throughout the series.
- Saltasaurus – On the first page a Saltasaurus can be seen helping the farmers.
- Unidentified Dolphin – The rescuers of shipwrecked travelers on Dinotopias coast.
- Tyrannosaurus – A genus of predator living in the rainy basin.
- Woolly mammoth – A mammal living in the forbidden mountains.
- Struthiomimus – Appear throughout the series as background characters.
- Dryosaurus – The character Kalyptera is a Dryosaurus.
- Camarasaurus – In the book it is described as needing dental work often.
- Deinocheirus – The dinotopian version of race horses.
- Edmontosaurus – One of the many dinosaurs living in sauropolis.
- Pteranodon – The guardians of the portal to the World Beneath.
- Moropus – A mammal living in the forbidden mountains.
- Brontotherium – A mammal living in the forbidden mountains.
The World Beneath
The first sequel, Dinotopia: The World Beneath focuses mainly on Arthur Denison's return expedition to the World Beneath and opens with Will fly testing an invention of his father, the Dragoncopter – a steam engine ornithopter modeled on the dragonfly. The Dragoncopter fails and Will is narrowly saved by Cirrus, his Skybax mount, before the Dragoncopter plummets into a waterfall.
After returning from his first expedition in A Land Apart From Time, Arthur presents two items he discovered – a sunstone and half of a key – to the council at Waterfall City in an attempt to get a second expedition into the World Beneath.
A musician named Oriana Nascava comes forward with the missing half of Arthur's key, claiming it to be a family heirloom. She is only willing to give it up if she is allowed to accompany Arthur in his expedition, a term that he reluctantly accepts. Together with Bix as a guide and the scandalous Lee Crabb, the group travels to the shady Pliosaur Canal where they board a submersible in order to take an underwater route to the World Beneath.
Meanwhile, Will and Sylvia have been assigned to accompany a sauropod caravan through the Rainy Basin and keep a watch for predatory Tyrannosaurus. However, Cirrus flies Will to ancient ruins in the jungle of which the Tyrannosaurus are strangely protective.
Arthur, Oriana, Bix, and Lee continue to explore the caverns underneath Dinotopia where they come across instantly germinating fern spores, uncut sunstones that appear to store ancestral memory, and mechanical limbs that twitch when the sunstone is brought near. Eventually, they reach an enormous man-made chamber filled with abandoned walking vehicles modelled after prehistoric animals, left behind by the ancient civilization of Poseidos, which they nickname "Strutters". Arthur, Oriana, and Bix commandeer a ceratopsian strutter while Crabb takes a strutter modeled after a sea scorpion and they both climb out of the World Beneath, ending up in the Rainy Basin. They join the sauropod convoy, but are attacked by a pack of tyrannosaurs and Allosaurus, during which Crabb escapes in his strutter and the head of the ceratopsian strutter is ripped off.
After escaping the carnivores, Arthur realizes that the Tyrannosaurus at the ruins may have been guarding the mythical ruby sunstone, and takes his strutter back into the Rainy Basin with Oriana and Bix to discover it. Along the way, they come across a trapped juvenile Giganotosaurus and free it. The grateful father, named Stinktooth, protects Arthur and his companions from the tyrannosaurs and allows them passage into the ruins.
However, they are too late, as Crabb has arrived first and taken the ruby sunstone. Vowing to escape Dinotopia and bring back an army of strutters to plunder the island, he destroys Arthur's strutter with his sea scorpion and escapes. Riding on top of Stinktooth, Arthur chases Lee into the sea and pulls the sunstone out of the power socket in the strutter before Lee can escape. During this chase, Arthur's journal is lost to the ocean where it will be discovered by Philippine sailors and eventually make its way to the library where James Gurney discovers it.
At the end, the ruby sunstone is lost, a new romance is suggested between Arthur and Oriana, and Crabb is placed under guard by a pair of Stygimoloch.
Dinotopia: First Flight was a prequel published by Gurney and included a board game.
The main protagonist of the story is Gideon Altaire, a flight school student living in the capital city of Poseidos off the Dinotopian mainland, in which all organic life (save for humans) has been replaced by mechanical counterparts. After discovering an injured Scaphognathus named Razzamult, Gideon discovers that the city is planning to launch an attack on the mainland and conquer all of Dinotopia and that they have stolen the ruby sunstone from the pterosaur home of Highnest.
Gideon sneaks into a factory and discovers an enormous air scorpion attack strutter under construction. He locates and steals the ruby sunstone and frees a group of captive pterosaurs before escaping to the mainland in a police skimmer. He arrives only to find the island already under attack. He discovers and enlists the help of a band of indigenous creatures- Binny, a Necrolemur, Bandy, a Plesictis, Bongo, a Plesiadapis, and Budge, an Estemmenosuchus. During their trek towards Highnest, they are ambushed by a spider like attack strutter which proceeds to steal the ruby sunstone.
Gideon and his band reach Highnest, where they help the pterosaurs evacuate the eggs, then take to the air atop their pterosaurs to engage the air scorpion. During the battle, Gideon manages to pull the ruby sunstone out of the flying machine's power socket, causing it to crash and stopping the invasion of Dinotopia.
Interestingly enough, Gideon is presented as the first ever Skybax rider, although the species he rode was Quetzalcoatlus northropi.
- Scaphognathus – Razzamult is a Scaphognathus.
- Necrolemur – Binny is a Necrolemur.
- Plesictis – Bandy is a Plesictis.
- Plesiadapis – Bongo is a Plesiadapis.
- Estemmenosuchus – Budge is an Estemmenosuchus.
Journey to Chandara
A fourth Dinotopia book by James Gurney, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, was published in October 2007. In it, Hugo Khan, the mysterious and reclusive emperor of Chandara, an empire long since isolated from the rest of Dinotopia, has heard of Arthur Denison and Bix's exploits and sends them a personal invitation to his court. Along the way, the duo encounter several new locals, including an old musician named Cornelius Mazurka and his companion Therizinosaurus Henriette in the ruins of an old city, a town called Bilgewater made completely out of salvaged ships that the inhabitants believe will carry them into another world, and Jorotongo, a consistently festive and completely nomadic village composed of pilgrims from the Sunflower, sister ship to the Mayflower.
Eventually, they meet Lee Crabb on route at Sauropolis, who escapes from his Stygimoloch guards and steals the invitation. Without proper passes for the border guards, Arthur and Bix are forced to sneak through the swamp of Blackwood Flats while evading packs of carnivorous Allosaurus. After passing through the mountain city of Thermala, the duo encounter Nibor Dooh, a bandit who steals all the possessions of passing travelers and compensates them with the possessions of the previous victim. Although Arthur loses all of his scientific equipment, he is given a set of desert robes which allow him and Bix to blend into a Chandaran caravan and pass the border without harassment from the guards.
They stop by the ruins of Ebulon, where Arthur finds Will and Sylvia preparing for an air-jousting tournament. Soon after that, they make their way to the capital city of Chandara. By the time they arrive, they find themselves with few possessions left to barter save for ideas, so Arthur sets up shop in the Marketplace of Ideas. During the night, the writings at Arthur's stand catches the attention of the emperor and he and Bix are invited into the court.
Once at the court, they discover that Lee Crabb has also entered the court under the guise of Arthur Denison and is attempting to gather up a stockpile of weapons, arguing that he is preparing for a Tyrannosaurus invasion. Hugo Khan finally reveals himself to be a small Microraptor, and the real Denison promptly exposes Crabb. Khan punishes Crabb by assigning him to be a chef for a band of Acrocanthosaurus Shaolin-monks, who ate their last chef after he failed to satisfy them.
To commemorate Arthur and Bix's presence on the court, Hugo Khan flies out during the night to find a child in sorrow. The next day, Arthur, Bix, and a handful of the Emperor's selected entertainers arrive at the house of and greet Rita Rose and Jeffer, an orphaned Europasaurus hatchling who has lost the ability to walk. At the end of the day, Hugo Khan expresses his wish for Chandara to be reopened culturally to the rest of Dinotopia. Arthur and Bix accept the Emperor's offers to stay in Chandara for a while to fully discover the city and its culture.
- Achelousaurus – Seen carrying pomegranate juice for sauropods.
- Therizinosaurus – The character Henriette is a Therizinosaurus.
- Unidentified snake – A species of animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Unidentified dragonfly – A species of animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Unidentified turtle – A species of animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Unidentified crocodile – A species of animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Archaeotherium (mentioned only) – An animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Camptosaurus (mentioned only) – An animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Scaphognathus (mentioned only) – An animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Allosaurus – An animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Red-faced Tyrannosaurus – An animal living in the Blackwood flats. They are scavengers unlike their cousins in the Rainy Basin.
- Unidentified opossum – A species of animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Unidentified shrew – A species of animal living in the Blackwood flats.
- Paraceratherium – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains. Hill people use Paraceratherium for carrying supplies in caravans. The characters Kamba and Muhimmi are Paraceratherium.
- Pelorovis (mentioned only) – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains.
- Megaloceros – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains.
- Macrauchenia – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains.
- Imperial Mammoth – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains.
- Anancus – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains.
- Megaladapis – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains.
- Megatherium – A mammal living in the Forbidden mountains. The Boon Sloth (the Dinotopian version of Santa Claus) is a Megatherium.
- Unidentified Pterosaurs (mentioned only) – A flock of small Pterosaurs unintentionally warn Arthur and Bix about the Kleptodon tribesman Nibor Dooh.
- Chondrosteosaurus – The main diet of a Skybax in Ebulon.
- Kentrosaurus – The Khasra baker stacks bread rings on a Kentrosaurus.
- Leptoceratops – Bix's distant cousin Ishter is a Leptoceratops.
- Bagaceratops – Bix's distant cousin Sita is a Bagaceratops.
- Montanoceratops – Bix's distant cousin Shalashu is a Montanoceratops.
- Psittacosaurus – Bix's distant cousin Erbettu is a Psittacosaurus.
- Dilong (mentioned only) – The guards of Khasra.
- Unidentified Cynodont (mentioned only) – A Bulldog-like Cynodont escorts Arthur and Bix to the compound run by Bixs, distant cousins.
- Utahraptor (mentioned only) – The barbers of Khasra.
- Edmontonia – Pavimentum the Fibonacci gardener is an Edmontonia.
- Anchiceratops – The character Boustrophedon is an Anchiceratops.
- Beipiaosaurus – A Beipiaosaurus is seen living with the Shinshik family in Teleost.
- Caudipteryx – A Caudipteryx is seen living with the Shinshik
- Acrocanthosaurus – A group of Shaoling warrior monks that Lee Crabb is assigned to be a chef for.
- Turiasaurus – A Turiasaurus is seen wading in the Chandara canals.
- Sinornithoides (mentioned only) – A group of Sinornithoides jump in front of Arthur to get a closer look at his mustache.
- Mesopithecus (mentioned only) – A Chandaran art teacher.
- Shuvuuia (mentioned only) – Djhuty a saurian architect (who somehow managed to escape Dinotopia and became the first Egyptian architect) is a Shuvuuia.
- Iguanodon – A Chandaran ferry pilot.
- Baryonyx – A Baryonyx is described as being "proud of his teeth which are well suited for catching fish. He insists on a careful brushing from his dental assistant.
- Einiosaurus – A pair of albino Einiosaurus are seen bathing in a swim tank.
- Chirostenotes – The courtiers of the emperor.
- Oviraptor – The characters Haber, Dasher, Virdis & Vestus are Oviraptor.
- Unidentified butterfly – A sentient butterfly named Zephys.
- Mononykus – Gedyu the partner of Kiri Uru Mistress of the art of teas is a Mononykus.
- Unidentified Therizinosaurid – The character Kotoman.
- Microraptor – Hugo Khan the emperor of Chandara is a Microraptor.
- Europasaurus – The lame hatchling Geffer is a Europasaurus.
- Protarchaeopteryx – Seen dancing to music played by a Hadrosaur.
Other books in the series
From 1995, James Gurney worked with a number of other authors on a series of short novels for children using the Dinotopia characters and themes, published by Random House:
- Windchaser by Scott Ciencin – Raymond, 13, and Hugh, a young street thief, are shipwrecked on Dinotopia Island, where humans and dinosaurs live in idyllic harmony. Raymond adjusts quickly, but Hugh's hard life has not prepared him for this peaceful communal existence. His feelings of inadequacy are echoed in Windchaser, a reclusive Skybax, and he resolves to communicate with the outcast creature.
- River Quest by John Vornholt – Waterfall City is in grave danger when the Polongo River mysteriously dries up. Magnolia and her dinosaur friend Paddlefoot, along with Birch and a triceratops called Rogo, battle the elements in their desperate quest to save Dinotopia's most beautiful city.
- Hatchling by Midori Snyder – Janet, a young Hatchery apprentice, runs away when she accidentally endangers a dinosaur egg. Then she meets a gravely wounded Saurolophus, a very rare dinosaur. Entrusted with the dying Saurolophus's newly laid egg, Janet knows she must brave the wilds of Dinotopia—and return to an uncertain reception at the Hatchery.
- Lost City by Scott Ciencin—Andrew, the son of a Dinotopian innkeeper, makes a strange discovery one night when a hooded dinosaur leads him and two friends to a remote, sealed-off city. When they begin to explore the forbidden area, the trio are thrust into a dangerous adventure—one they can survive only if they can put aside their chronic rivalries and come to understand the lost race of Troodons, who have existed there in seclusion for centuries and have created their own warrior culture in a mix of chivalry and bushido.
- Sabertooth Mountain by John Vornholt—High in the Forbidden Mountains of Dinotopia, sabertooth tigers prowl and hunt, far from humans and dinosaurs alike. In this chilling, Kipling-esque adventure, a daring 12-year-old boy is forced to join a sabertooth clan. Then disaster strikes, and he must brave the treacherous crags of Sabertooth Mountain—for the good of all Dinotopians!
- Thunder Falls by Scott Ciencin—For Joseph and Fleetfeet, a young Stegosaurus, a journey across the dangerous terrain of Dinotopia to retrieve a stolen prize for their guardian is hampered by their constant competitiveness. But the two friends must put aside their differences to shoot the treacherous rapids of Waterfall City's Thunder Falls.
- Firestorm by Gene De Weese – Becoming the new apprentice to the Habitat Partner of Forest is very important to young Albert, but it seems like it will take forever. While doing another dull, jungle plant life survey with his Plateosarurus partner, Hightop, they hear disturbing news—the root that guarantees all Dinotopians longevity is disappearing. Every potential apprentice is dipatched to all corners of Dinotopia and now Albert has a chance to guarantee his own apprenticeship. But in his hurried, hopeful search for answers, what important questions is he forgetting to ask?
- The Maze by Peter David – A witty young Raptor, Booj, teams up with Jason and Gwen to search for the legendary Odon, a Raptor who long ago became a recluse. To find him, the three friends must survive the dangerous traps of Odon's underground maze. No matter the challenge, they must succeed, because only Odon has the cure for the mysterious disease that has afflicted Gwen's father.
- The Rescue Party by Mark A. Garland – Every day, Loro enviously watches caravans of armored Brachiosaurs leave his town and cross the bridge into the dangerous jungles of the Rainy Basin. Someday, he promises himself, he will go there too. Then a deadly storm sweeps over Dinotopia, and the Brachiosaurs go to help the towns that were hit the hardest. So when a hot-air balloon crashes into the jungle, Loro and his friends know they are the only ones who can help. Loro's dream will finally come true, but can he survive the perils of the Rainy Basin
- Sky Dance by Scott Ciencin—Since he was small, Marc has wanted to be a tightrope walker – even though he has no sense of balance and a fear of heights. His buddy Gentle, a Parasaurolophus, dreams of being a musician – even though his notes are wildly out of tune. Through sheer determination, the two join a troupe of traveling entertainers. They learn quickly, but their newfound skills are put the test when tragedy strikes. A Sky Galley is sent wildly out of control during a terrible storm. Only an aerialist like Marc can save the passengers. But performing isn't easy when lives are on the line!
- Chomper by Don Glut – Perry and his friend Stoutpoint come across an unusual find—a hatchling gigantosaurus! Unable to resist the baby's cries of hunger, they take the injured dinosaur to their village. Chomper conforms to a diet of fish and invertebrates, but when the dinosaur's appetite outgrows the village stores, something has to be done!
- Return to Lost City by Scott Ciencin—Young Andrew and Lian pay a return visit to their old friends in Lost City, a place that served for years as the secret home of a noble tribe of Troodon knights. When they arrive, they find that an elder Troodon has gone off on a crazy, Don Quixote-like quest to prove he's still a great champion. Now it's up to Andrew, Lian, and their Troodon friend Arri to find this old knight and bring him back before he wreaks havoc in Dinotopia. But they may find out that his quest is not so crazy after all—and that the lives of an entire saurian race may hang in the balance.
- Survive! by Brad Strickland – After an earthquake sends him tumbling down a cliff, young Kurt awakens unhurt, but terrified. He can't remember anything—not even his own name! Hopelessly confused, Kurt stumbles away from the cliff, unknowingly wandering deeper into dangerous rain forest. Meanwhile, Kurt's family and his Deinonychus friend Tostri are urgently searching for him. But without his memory, how will Kurt know who they are?
- The Explorers by Scott Ciencin—Long ago, a group of brave Troodon knights undertook difficult quests to help their fellow Dinotopians. They called themselves the Explorers. When five young descendants of these knights hear the heroic tales of their ancestors, they become inspired to form a brand-new Explorers club. Pointynog the clever, Snicknik the quick, Hardshell the strong, Seeno the stealthy, and Plodnob the jovial say they are ready for any adventure, no matter how dangerous! But the original Explorers club was made up of experienced Troodon knights. Can these junior knights-in-training live up to their ancestors’ legend?
- Dolphin Watch by John Vornholt—A boy and his Cryptoclidus friend begin diving with Dinotopia?s dolphins, the marine animals who rescue people from shipwrecks and bring them to safety on Dinotopia. But when the dolphins help rescue a warrior, will the stability of Dinotopia be at risk?
- Oasis by Cathy Hapka – Jack and Ty are opposites. So when they travel together in a caravan across the Great Desert, there are bound to be disagreements. And when a sandstorm separates the boys from the rest of their group, the arguments get worse. Then they stumble upon a legendary oasis where they find a lost colony of small dinosaurs called Saltopus. Somehow, Jack and Ty must put aside their differences long enough to befriend the shy dinosaurs–and figure out how to help them!
Two full-length adult fantasy novels were also issued with Gurney's authority, written by Alan Dean Foster: Dinotopia Lost (1996) and Hand of Dinotopia (1999).
A 2002 four-hour TV mini-series produced by Hallmark Entertainment was also based on James Gurney's work, and was advertised as the first "mega-series." The show featured new characters such as Zippo (changed to Zippeau for the TV series to avoid legal issues with the lighter maker Zippo), a troodon who is said to have worked with Sylvia; and a new plot device, the sunstones, which are described as a source of power and protection originating in the World Beneath. This in turn became the pilot for a short-lived series, wherein the failure both of the sunstones and of Dinotopian officials to adhere to the underlying meanings of their culture's philosophy caused several discontented people – a leader-in-training, Zippeau himself, and two twentieth-century Dolphinbacks, Karl and David – to embark on a quest that led ultimately to the World Beneath. The characters in the miniseries refer several times to figures from the various books, including Will Denison, Gideon Altaire, and Lee Crabb, whose son Cyrus features as the antagonist. The mini-series won an Emmy for its special effects.
Code of Dinotopia
In the world of Dinotopia, the Code of Dinotopia is an ancient stone tablet citing the rules of living in Dinotopia. As the part of the tablet cracked since it was first carved, the last portion of it had been missing, but was recovered in the TV miniseries Dinotopia. The code itself is as follows:
- Survival of all or none.
- One raindrop raises the sea.
- Weapons are enemies, even to their owners.
- Give more, take less.
- Others first, self last.
- Observe, listen and learn.
- Do one thing at a time.
- Sing every day.
- Exercise imagination.
- Eat to live, don't live to eat.
- Don't p...
The recovered first letters of each sentence spell out "SOW GOOD SEED". It was first written in the Dinotopian alphabet. In the TV miniseries, the 11th code began with Fin... and was found to be "Find the light".
In the original book by James Gurney, the last line of the code was a small joke amongst the historians and the librarian, who seemed to think it could have been "Don't pee in the bath" referencing the Saurian community's distaste with some humans' lack of cleanliness and hygiene. This was never elaborated on further or confirmed to be true though. Another theory is "Don't put off work for tomorrow that can be done today".
A TV series of thirteen episodes was produced later in 2002 as a result of the success of the mini-series, but none of the cast of the mini-series reprised their roles. In the later TV series, a group of people known as Outsiders live outside the laws of Dinotopia and are one of its dangers outside of the featured carnivorous dinosaurs including Pteranodon, Tyrannosaurus, and crocodile-like mosasaurs.
ABC originally planned to launch the series in September 2002 but decided to wait until Thanksgiving. ABC was somewhat disappointed by the initial 5.7 million viewers and the poor ratings, but continued to air the series for a little while longer, pointing out that it had been an "odd viewing night overall." The series was finally canceled in December. Only six of the thirteen episodes were aired on ABC, but all thirteen were broadcast the following year in Europe and were released onto a 3-disc DVD box set.
Science-fiction veteran David Winning directed two episodes of the series, and location shooting lasted for three months near Budapest, Hungary. Georgina Rylance played Marion Waldo, and Lisa Zane portrayed her old friend LeSage, the leader of the Outsiders.
There is also a 2005 traditionally-animated movie called Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone. This film deviated from the original books more than the miniseries by featuring Ogthar, a mythical ruler of the World Beneath (mentioned in the miniseries), as a human warlord rather than a benevolent, if commanding, emperor; by creating an "evil" counterpart to the sunstones; and by having Ogthar command dinosaurs rather than humans as his cohorts.
A number of Dinotopia video games have been produced:
- Dinotopia Adventure Game for PC (PC: 1995)
- Dinotopia: Living the Adventure (PC: 1996)
- Dinotopia Game Land Activity Center (PC/Mac: 2002)
- Dinotopia: The Timestone Pirates (Game Boy Advance: 2002)
- Dinotopia: The Sunstone Odyssey (GameCube/Xbox: 2003)
- "Illustrator Biographies". Norman Rockwell Museum. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- "The Hugo Awards: 1993 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "The Hugo Awards: 1996 Hugo Awards". World Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- Maltby, Anna (24 October 2007). "A Talk with James Gurney". Time for Kids. Time Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- Waterfall City, dinotopia.com. Retrieved August 2011
- Dinosaur Parade, dinotopia.com. Retrieved August 2011
- "Gurney Journey: Bix Maquettes". Gurneyjourney.blogspot.com. 26 November 2007. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- Murray, Kathleen Wereszynski (29 November 2007). "Incredible journey: New book goes back to 'Dinotopia'". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- Phillips, Loren (6 June 1999). ""Breathe Deep, Seek Peace": Controversial Similarities Between "Dinotopia" and "The Phantom Menace", Including Discussion with the Author, James Gurney". Echo Station. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- "Dinotopia". Dinotopia. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- Petrozzello, Donna (3 December 2002). "'Dinotopia' Gets Chance to Avoid Extinction". NYDailyNews.com. Daily News. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- Lowry, Brian (17 December 2002). "ABC's 'Dinotopia' is a thing of the past". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
- Frederick S. Clarke, Cinefantastique vol. 34 (2002), p. 20
- "Dinotopia Adventure Game". Gamefaqs.com. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- GameZone Dinotopia: Living the Adventure videogame
- Game Zone's Kid Zone: Dinotopia Game Land Activity Center videogame
- "Dinotopia: The Timestone Pirates videogame". Gamefaqs.com. 30 April 2002. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- "Dinotopia: The Sunstone Odyssey videogame for GBA". Gamefaqs.com. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- "Dinotopia: The Sunstone Odyssey videogame for Xbox". Gamefaqs.com. 5 August 2003. Retrieved 2011-02-02.