Hardcase by Dan Simmons
Readers of Dan Simmons have been spoiled by his numerous great works: THE HYPERION CANTOS, Song of Kali, and The Terror, for example, which sold well around the world and in many languages. Hardcase, unfortunately, finds Simmons returning to earth from the heights of this success. Hardcase is run-of-the-mill action — well told, but still average.
Before buying the book, I noted that many reviewers enjoyed Simmons’s delving into detective noir to tell the story of hardened private eye Joe Kurtz, who solves a mystery while trying to stay alive with killers on his trail. Having now read the book, I’m at a loss to see where the spirit of Raymond Chandler can be seen glowing in the text. Certainly some of the elements speak to the noir genre — Kurtz’s office below a porno shop, his moral position outside the law but fighting for justice, and t... Read More
Dan Simmons(1948- )
Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois and grew up in the Midwest. He received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art. He received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years. Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987 and lives along the Front Range of Colorado — in the same town where he taught for 14 years — with his wife, Karen. Dan is one of the few novelists whose work spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, historical fiction, noir crime fiction, and mainstream literary fiction. In 1995, Dan’s alma mater, Wabash College, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions in education and writing.
Joe Kurtz — (2001-2003) Publisher: Sometimes revenge is best paid in cold steel. HARDCASE. Joe Kurtz has been wronged one too many times. So when he takes out the drug-dealing thug who killed his girlfriend, the ex-PI gets to cool his heels for 11 years in Attica. It’s there that he meets “Little Skag” Farino, the son of an aging Buffalo, New York, mob boss. In exchange for protecting the kid’s manhood against any unwanted jailhouse affection, Kurtz gets an audience with Little Skag’s father upon his release from prison. Semi-retired Don Byron Farino is still clinging to what dwindling power he holds on the New York organized crime scene. He enlists Kurtz’s help to track down the Family’s missing accountant — a man with too much knowledge of Family business to have on the loose. But someone doesn’t want the accountant found. As the story twists and turns and the body count rises, Kurtz no longer knows whom he can trust. Everyone seems to be after something, from the mob boss’s sultry yet dangerous daughter, to a hit man named The Dane, an albino killer who is good with a knife, and a dwarf who is armed to the teeth and hell-bent on revenge. Bestselling author Dan Simmons expertly builds the tension as he springs one surprise after another, all the while daring the reader to take a ride with Kurtz through the cold, windy streets of Buffalo where one wrong move could mean a belly-full of lead.
Hardcase by Dan Simmons
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
Carrion Comfort is one of Dan Simmons’s earlier works, first published in 1989. It is about psychic vampires who feed off of other people, manipulating their thoughts and thereby controlling their actions.
The notion of a psychic vampire is what made me want to read this book — it’s an idea far too interesting to pass up. Simmons’s vampires are unique, and they do live up to the hype in some ways. Ultimately, though, they often tiptoed right up to being absurd and ridiculous. The lack of believability at certain parts of the book diminshed my enjoyment of the novel. If there had been fewer completely unbelievable scenes — unbelievable even in the context of horror fiction — Carrion Comfort would be far more haunting than it is.
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The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons
I’m a huge fan of Dan Simmons’s work — when he hits. With The Hollow Man, he misses. Though his talent as a stylist is once again on full display here, the story is confused and overly-complex, leaving the objective of The Hollow Man obscure and ambiguous. One look at the plot devices at work — neuroscience, serial killers, homelessness, telepathy, depression, the mafia, quantum physics — ought to tell you the story is bogged down with excess baggage. And did I mention the abused, deaf-blind boy with Down Syndrome who plays a hand in the novel’s climax?
Regarding content, The Hollow Man is the story of a telepathic man who undergoes a drastic life change after his wife, also telepathic, dies. The severing of this bond, which we are led to believe is stronger than the average relationship due to their mind-to-mind connection, causes the man t... Read More
The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Terror is based on the British vessels HMS Erebrus and HMS Terror and their voyage to discover a northwest passage in the 19th century. Using their unknown fate as a literary springboard, Dan Simmons freely fills the gap in history as his imagination allows, and in the process has created a work of historical fiction that transcends genre. Classified horror due to one of its plot devices, the novel is in fact much deeper in scope. On the surface it is the story of the two ships and their crews’ attempts to survive, frozen in the ice for more than two years, but at another level, it is an examination of the hubris of humanity and its attempts to defy nature.
Reining himself in from the vivid descriptions and vibrant storytelling of the HYPERION CANTOS or JOE KURTZ novels, Simmons’ imagery of a frozen wasteland in The Terror require... Read More
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
Song of Kali is actually a terrific book, not a horrible one, but if you confine your Monday horrors to fiction, maybe Monday won't seem so bad.
I read a number of reviews prior to buying Song of Kali by Dan Simmons. I noticed several took issue with the book's portrayal of India as a trash-filled, disease-ridden country. After reading the novel, I have to say these people saw only the superficial images of filth and decay Simmons so vividly evokes, thus missing the point of the novel. Read More
The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderōz by Dan Simmons
A few years ago Subterranean Press published what has ever since been my favorite anthology of all time — Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance. It’s a hefty collection of stories written by 22 authors who consider Jack Vance an influence on their own work. Each wrote a story set in Vance’s DYING EARTH universe and many of them attempted — often quite successfully —Vance’s trademark style. Each also wrote an afterward which explains how Vance influenced them personally. I’ve reviewed that anthology here.
This month Subterranean Press is releasing Dan Simmons’ contribution to that anthology as a hardcover stand-alone novella. It has previously been released on Kindle. The Guiding Nose of Ulfänt Banderōz takes p... Read More
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance is the best anthology I’ve ever read. These stories will be enjoyed by any SFF reader, but they’ll be ten times more fun if you’ve read Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, because they are all written in honor of that fantastic work. Each tale is written in the style of Vance, which is quite amusing in itself, and each takes place on the Dying Earth, that far-future wasteland in which natural selection means survival of the cleverest, nastiest, sneakiest, and most self-serving.
Songs of the Dying Earth was written by “many high-echelon, top-drawer writers” (as Mr. Vance says in the preface):... Read More
The Hyperion Cantos — (1989-1997) Publisher: On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope–and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.
Dale Stewert — (1991-2002) Publisher: This masterfully crafted horror classic, featuring a brand-new introduction by Dan Simmons, will bring you to the edge of your seat, hair standing on end and blood freezing in your veins. It’s the summer of 1960 and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys’ days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days. From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood — against an arcane abomination who owns the night…
Ilium — (2003-2005) Publisher: The Trojan War rages at the foot of Olympos Mons on Mars — observed and influenced from on high by Zeus and his immortal family — and twenty-first-century professor Thomas Hockenberry is there to play a role in the insidious private wars of vengeful gods and goddesses. On Earth, a small band of the few remaining humans pursues a lost past and devastating truth — as four sentient machines depart from Jovian space to investigate, perhaps terminate, the potentially catastrophic emissions emanating from a mountaintop miles above the terraformed surface of the Red Planet.
New magazines fascinate me. These days they seem to be popping up on the internet like mushrooms after a summer rain. Jamais Vu: The Journal of Strange Among the Familiar is the latest of these ventures to cross my desk. The first issue, dated Winter 2014, opens with a message from the Editor-in-Chief, Paul Anderson (the one who makes the content decisions, as opposed to the Executive Editor, Eric S. Beebe, who bills himself as a figurehead who pays the bills). Anderson explains that Jamais Vu is an experiment arising from Post Mortem’s start as a publisher of anthologies. Rather than continuing with anthologies, which don’t sell particularly well, or resorting to the $.99 digital “short” that’s all the rage on Amazon these days, Post Mortem decided to try a magazine. If the quality of the magazine consistently matches that of the first issue, this venture ought to be a success.
The first story, “Photo Captions” by Gary A. Bra... Read More