Dan Simmons

Gods, goddesses, and heroes

Gods, goddesses, and heroes (Photo credit: jay mann)

Dan Simmons is one my favorite science fiction authors. He has written a large body of work, not all of which I have yet read. Of the single volume works I have read, the Terror is probably my favorite. It is about a doomed Arctic exploration in search of the Northwest Passage. There were two ships in the expedition, the Erebus and the Terror. This is the story of the Terror, and it is embroidered with Eskimo myth. There are two volcanic peaks in Antarctica named for the Erebus and the Terror. Another Simmons’s book, Drood, is about Charles Dickens and is somewhat connected to the story in The Terror and was probably researched at the same time. I also enjoyed the Black Hills which is about Custer and Mount Rushmore.

Simmons is most noted in my opinion for two multi-volume series. The first is the four volume series beginning with Hyperion and totals roughly 2300 pages (perhaps a bit less in hardbound). I read and re-read volume one several times and plan to re-read it again soon. It is set in the far distant future. A two volume series is Ilium and Olympos totaling nearly 1600 pages. I have read both volumes three times. They are Simmons’s version of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey about the Greek and Trojan war, and they are set in the distant future on an alternate Mars and earth. Your can read Homer and Simmons separately and sequentially or together as I would recommend. I like to read several books at the same time and I think you will enjoy both Homer and Simmons more if you read them at the same time. Each makes the other more interesting and more comprehensible.

I am reading Simmons’s first book, Song of Kali, at this time. I am looking forward to reading his book about Hemingway in Cuba, The Crook Factory. I was disappointed in A Winter Haunting. I consider the remainder of Simmons’s books his minor works. I did enjoy Darwin’s Blade for the humorous touches and because it was set in Southern California where I lived for 38 years.

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