Fossil Hunter is hard SF in the tradition of Larry Niven about a world inhabited by the Quintaglios, a dinosaurian species that has evolved a human level of intelligence and culture.
Toroca, a Quintaglio geologist, is under attack for his controversial new theory of evolution. But the origins of his people turn out to be more complex than even he imagined, for he soon discovers the wreckage of an ancient starship - a relic of the aliens who transplanted Earth's dinosaurs to this solar system. Now, Toroca must convince Emperor Dybo that evolution is true; otherwise, the territorial violence the Quintaglios inherited from their tyrannosaur ancestors will destroy the last survivors of Earth's prehistoric past.
©1993 Robert J. Sawyer (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
Easily in the top 5.
Sawyer does a great job at creating a believable alien culture that is described well enough to still resonate with the reader. His protagonists are engaging, and his knowledge of paleontology adds additional levels of appreciation for a biologist such as myself. The little nods to parallel development of Quintaglio scientific development was quite amusing without being overly blunt.
It's all pretty good. Toroca's methodical scientific inquiry and unusual mindset makes him a compelling and sympathetic character in pretty much every scene. I read this book first of the three back in the day, and I found it impossible to not get quite invested in Toroca's journey and personal problems. Dybo's arena fight is pretty epic.
Just that it's a great book. I look forward to listening to this performance again many times in the future.
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