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Chip’s Picks – Dan Simmons

Continuing the Chip’s Picks series, my next author to recommend will be Dan Simmons.

Simmons has done quite a bit of work in the horror genre (Summer of Night, Song of Kali), and his science fiction is tinged with a lot of cringe-inducing imagery. However, his descriptions are amazingly rich and detailed, and his characters seem like real people instead of coatracks to hang ideas on (a complaint I always have about Asimov).

Books to look for include:

  • Hyperion – A group of “pilgrims,” all with dark secrets, travel toward a mysterious, ancient, and deadly shrine on an alien world. Written in the style of The Canterbury Tales, each traveler has his or her own chapter, and they all tell their tales in a distinct voice. Simmons explores some of the things that humans might become, and some of the dangers that may await them in the future.
  • Hyperion’s Fall, Endymion, Rise of Endymion (the sequels) – None of these are as powerful as Hyperion, but they’re all worth reading. Hyperion’s Fall ties up, more or less, the loose ends from the first book, but it has a tacked-on feeling to it, as though Simmons hadn’t really intended to write a sequel. The two Endymion books explore characters in the same universe, whose fates are related to the goings-on in the Hyperion novels, but the ties are fairly loose.
  • Prayers to Broken Stones – A collection of short stories (including one which became a chapter in Hyperion) covering topics as diverse as the familial implications of returning from the dead, a combat theme park in Vietnam, and psychic vampires, Simmons really shines with short stories.
  • Ilium and Olympos – Three planets (Earth, Mars, and Jupiter), two major literary themes (The Iliad and The Tempest), loads of AIs, cyborgs, hypersentient thingummies, and a couple of confused humans. I haven’t read these two yet, but I’ve had endless paragraphs quoted at me by my husband, whose judgment I trust in such matters. If I can convince him to write “Shadow’s Picks,” I’ll letcha know.

Related:
Robert A. Heinlein
Tim Powers
Neal Stephenson
Roger Zelazny
Richard Morgan

Posted in Books & Authors November 17th, 2006 by Chip
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