Archive for dan simmons

THE ABOMINABLE By Dan Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2017 by stanleyriiks

I thought this would be Simmons back to his roots with a horror novel featuring the Earthly form of the Wookie: the abominable snowman, the yeti. But the “baddie” here is pretty much the mountain, the mountain: Everest.

It’s the early thirties, and three climbers set out to climb the largest mountain in the world, the unconquerable Everest. They find funding, their excuse to go there being to recover the body of a former friend, but they must take his cousin with them. The mountain quickly proves treacherous, and when they find out the body is of a spy, and they are being chased by Germans intent on collecting the secrets his body carries, things go from dangerous to even worse…

As with all Simmons’ novels he manages to capture the essence of the place he’s writing about, in this case the wind-blown peaks of the Himalayas, the jagged rock-faces, and the desolate and airless ridges of ice and rock.

The build-up is slow and gradual, giving the reader the information necessary to respect the struggle that these early pioneers had to endure, and giving you essential knowledge about climbing and the primitive but revolutionary equipment they are using.

Sadly, although he manages to imbue the characters with the same sense of depth, for some reason there is just a lack of feeling towards any of them. I’m not entirely sure what’s missing, but something definitely is.

This is a long book, and takes a while to get into, it being book-ended with the set-up for the actual story.

Simmons is a craftsman, his books really do capture you and take you to someplace else. This one is no exception, it, like all his books, is exceptional.

FLASHBACK By Dan Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2014 by stanleyriiks

This is a scary book.

The not too distance future is far too familiar, and realistic for comfort.

Set in 2036, where America has broken up, the Global Caliphate has taken over much of Europe after bombing Israel, Nuevo Mexico (run by the drug cartels) now rules over much of the former southern United States, and Japan is the major country pulling all the strings as it goes back to dark-ages feudal law.

Nick Bottom is a former cop and Flashback addict, a drug that allows you to revisit memories, who is asked to reopen a murder from six years ago. When he is offered enough money to buy himself Flashback for the rest of his life, so that he can relive the memories of his now dead wife, he can’t refuse. His new boss sets Nick a minder, a Japanese assassin named Sato who follows Nick and tries to keep him on the straight and narrow while he investigates. Meanwhile in Los Angeles Nick’s abandoned son Val is heading with his gang to commit a murder, and the cartels are ready to make a push to take over the rest of California.

This world where crowds no longer gather due to bombings, where flights are hideously expensive due to security, where suicide bombers fill up every orifice with explosives (this book was read in the same week security was tightening in the US and UK due to bombs hidden within bodies), where gangs rules half the world, where financial crises have destroyed the superpowers and much of democracy, is a frighteningly plausible future.

Simmons is an excellent writer, he does his usual thing of using place names and street names to really paint a picture of the setting, and the world he has created is utterly realistic. The characters that Simmons creates are good, there’s a nice level of development, they have a good deal of history, backstory and realism.

Everything Simmons does is polished and professional. He writes interesting stories, and captures the imagination of the readers.

But I can’t help thinking that he will never capture my imagination again the same way he did with the Hyperion books. If you haven’t read Simmons then any of his books is a must read, he is an impeccable writer, and this would be a good one to start off with.

DROOD By Dan Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This is Wilkie Collins’ journal of some of his adventures with Charles Dickens during the last few years of the great writer’s life, including the mysterious encounters with Drood, and Wilkie’s increasing dependency on opium.

The authenticity is the book’s downfall, this reads very much like a mid-nineteenth century novel, it’s over-wordy and over-long, and yet you’re enveloped in a fog-filled London full of opium dens, whores and private policeman.

Drood is either a dangerous criminal mastermind, a mesmerist, or a figment of either Wilkie’s or Dickens’ imagination. At the end of the novel you’re still not sure.

Massively detailed, and perfectly acceptable as an alternative history, the book fits perfectly into the real world of facts we have about both writers. Its entertaining, in its way, but suffers for being so long, and wrapping itself, as well as the reader, in circles of mystery that there is no escape from.

Fascinating, but ultimately too much like hard work, for those willing to sacrifice the weeks needed to read all seven hundred pages you will feel faintly rewarded. Not one of Simmons best book, his Hyperion quartet is amazingly brilliant, and this suffers, like Ilium, from being over-written.

A brilliant writer again not at his best.