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Dan Simmons. Is he any good?

 
 
dlowan
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:21 pm
I have been futzing around in Amazon, and, well, one thing led to another (Amazon is very digressive) and, to my surprise, I ended up in amongst Dan Simmons.

(Via another book which led me to Drood, if you care, which you probably don't.)

Anyhoo, is Simmons any good?

What is good by him?

Anything else you care to say.

(Within REASON, for heaven's sake!)
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:35 pm
I am reading a very good book by Dan Simmons right now called, The Terror, and I read two of his other horror novels. I will be reading Drood at some point, I'm sure, just because of the Dickens connection.

I like horror novels, and that's all I know of his writing. He is probably more famous for his sci-fi novels, but I don't know a thing about them. All I know is he is a very good writer. He puts a lot of meat on the bones of his characters, and he doesn't skimp on details, but still manages to keep the story zipping along. I remember Carrion Comfort was especially good. Nazi Mind Vampires. Dude. I'm only about a quarter of the way into The Terror and it's definitely got me hooked.

If you don't have anything against a good horror novel, he's definitely worth a read.

dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:37 pm
@kickycan,
Hmmm....HOW horrible?


not big on horror
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:56 pm
@dlowan,
I don't know...the ones I've read were pretty violent and horrifying, but I think the new one, Drood looks like it's less of that and more of a creeping suspenseful kind of thing. And it's about the mysterious final years of Dickens' life. That's a pretty interesting idea right there.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:59 pm
@kickycan,
Horror novels? Scones with poppy seeds?

Sounds like a skipper.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 09:04 pm
@kickycan,
kickycan wrote:

I don't know...the ones I've read were pretty violent and horrifying, but I think the new one, Drood looks like it's less of that and more of a creeping suspenseful kind of thing. And it's about the mysterious final years of Dickens' life. That's a pretty interesting idea right there.


Indeed...what drew me there.

Dude! Read Drood for me, and report, garn, won't ya?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 09:04 pm
@ossobuco,
Huh?
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kickycan
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 09:10 pm
@dlowan,
No problem. As soon as I finish the last 700 pages of The Terror, I'll get right on that one. What's Drood, about 900 pages long? Well then I should be back to you with a final review of both books in about an hour. I do hope that's not too long a wait for you.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 10:38 pm
@kickycan,
It's pushing it a little, but I shall be sweetly patient.
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Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:21 pm
I read the first two Hyperion books - OK as Sci-Fi goes, but wasn't THAT good.

If he writes horror as well, avoid it. I once read a book by Cliver Barker - it was absolute shite!!
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:32 pm
@Mr Stillwater,
Oh.
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Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:49 pm
Just my opinion Bun-Huns.

I sort of got a little jaded with the whole thing when I worked for that public library in Waterloo. I catalogued like... 5 or 6,000.. works of fiction and they were mostly bad.

Two names leap out:
-Some-one writing under that name 'Robert Jordan' doing a series called the 'Wheel of Time'. They must have paid him by the word, each one got bigger and bigger - 10-12 novels.
-two writers doing 'Dragon' novels - Feith and 'W' - dozens of books. WTF?
-anything with vampires - Anne Rice who started that **** off is now writing novelizations of the lives of Biblical characters - WTF?
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Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 12:26 am
Simmons is a very good writer and very much at home in any number of genres.

The Terror is nominally a "horror" story but nothing like Stephen King, Clive Barker, or Dean Koontz.

The story concerns 19th century arctic explorers who sail two ships (one named "Terror") in search of the Northwest Passage, and is based on an actual expedition.

Much of the novel concerns itself with the incredible hardships the crews of the two ships must overcome, and even without the element of horror that is rather subtly ( for a so-called horror novel) incorporated, the plot could easily stand on its own as a tale of desperate men and how they react to extreme conditions.

Don't be put off by the genre label this book has assumed (ostensibly for marketing purposes). It is a great story and Simmons is a skilled craftsman.

In my opinion it's not on par with The Terror, but a similar Simmons "horror novel," is The Song of Kali. Here again, the supernatural element of this story, while pervasive in terms of mood, is ambiguous in terms of plot, and all the more disturbing as a result. A reader who recoils from zombies, vampires and extra-dimensional monsters could easily find this book (like The Terror) very satisfying.

Simmons' award winning Sci-Fi novel Hyperion is another book that utilizes a specific genre's classic motifs like space travel and alien beings, but more as a stage for the story, than as its foundation.

Simmons was a HS english teacher before he was able to write full time, and all of his novels reflect his literary training. If you have read The Canterbury Tales, you will find Hyperion reminiscent, and not by coincidence.

I don't think the sequel(s) were at all up to the quality of Hyperion and so if you read Hyperion you may feel compelled to read the sequel to find some answers, but it's really not worth your time.

I have read a number of other novels by Simmons and, except for the Hyperion sequel(s) have never been disappointed. I would certainly give anything he writes a shot.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:51 am
HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were the two ships of Sir John Franklin's expedition to find a northwest passage. Franklin himself died in June 1847, after the two ships had become trapped in the pack ice. The expedition is one of the most famous, or one should say, notorious events in history. There can be little doubt now that all the members of the expedition were suffering from the effects of long-term, low-grade lead poisoning. This has been confirmed from the remains of men in burials from the Franklin expedition. Madness there would have been aplenty. I am not famliar with the author referred to, however.
0 Replies
 
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 03:06 am
How much 'tension' can you get with your characters trapped in the frigging ice half-way to the North Pole? Short of debbil Polar Bears or aliens picking them off in a mysterious city of ice, you really are kinda stuffed, narrative-wise.


In fact, the real story is better. The survivors dragged long-boats full of useless crap across the ice - curtain-rods and a piano, if I remember correctly - the Inuit must have been gob-smacked. And the real ******* joke is that right now you can SWIM to the North Pole. Talk about bad timing or what.....
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 03:29 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Hmmm...I kind of like literary allusions and echoes...

Does it have a Wife of Bath's Tale, by any chance?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:52 am
@Mr Stillwater,
Quote:
In fact, the real story is better. The survivors dragged long-boats full of useless crap across the ice - curtain-rods and a piano, if I remember correctly - the Inuit must have been gob-smacked.


Window sashes, lace curtains, Franklin's set of plate--yeah, they were definitely round the bend, which just helps to confirm the effects of chronic, low-grade lead poisoning (from the lead solder of the cans from which their rations came). To make sure they would die before reaching "civilization," they were making for Montreal, instead of York Factory on the shores of Hudson's Bay.
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:55 am
Hyperion was good, but I've never gone back to read more of his stuff.

Actually, I did read a short story by him that was in one of the Years Best Science Fiction anthologies.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Feb, 2009 08:22 pm
Well, I'm about fifty pages from the end of The Terror and I just bought Drood tonight, which I will start as soon as I finish this one. The Terror is a fantastic book. In parts, it actually moved me deeply, which I haven't been able to say about many books other than some of the classics I've read.

Did you ever read Drood?

Gotta go finish The Terror now. Ciao, rabbit!
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Feb, 2009 05:32 am
@kickycan,
Haven't read...or got hold of...Drood yet.

The terror sounds good...kinda holiday reading, perhaps?

Looking forward to hearing about Drood!
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