Are you a horror or science fiction fan looking for a new author to explore? Look no further than Dan Simmons. Simmons has become one of the most celebrated authors in these genres with a writing style that combines stunning imagery, intricate world-building, and deep character development.
Born on April 4, 1948, in Peoria, Illinois, Simmons grew up in various cities across the Midwest. He received his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in 1970 and earned a master’s degree in education from Washington University in St. Louis. He worked as a high school teacher for several years before starting his writing career.
Simmons began his writing career in the horror genre with his debut novel, Song of Kali, which won the World Fantasy Award in 1986. The book is set in Calcutta and follows an American writer embroiled in a cult devoted to the Hindu goddess Kali. With its vivid descriptions of the city’s slums and exploration of the darker side of human nature, Song of Kali marked Simmons as a major new talent in the horror field.
In 1989, Simmons published his most famous novel, Hyperion, which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. The book is set in a distant future where humanity has spread throughout the galaxy and follows a group of travelers on a pilgrimage to the mysterious planet of Hyperion. Along the way, they each tell their own stories, revealing a complex web of politics, religion, and technology that threatens to destroy everything they hold dear. Hyperion is a masterful blend of science fiction and horror, with Simmons weaving classic literature, philosophy, and science elements to create a rich and compelling narrative.
Simmons continued to explore the themes of religion and history in his next major work, The Terror. The novel is a fictionalized account of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition, which sought to navigate the Northwest Passage in the mid-19th century. The Terror is a harrowing tale of survival and madness, with Simmons delving deep into the psychology of the men trapped on the ice as they confront unimaginable horrors. The book was a critical and commercial success and was adapted into a television series in 2018.
In addition to his novels, Simmons has also written several collections of short stories, including Prayers to Broken Stones and Worlds Enough & Time. His short fiction showcases his versatility as a writer, with stories ranging from traditional horror to science fiction to historical fiction. Simmons’ ability to blend genres and create unique and compelling narratives is one of the hallmarks of his work.
Simmons has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Bram Stoker Award, the Locus Award, and the John W. Campbell Award. His work has significantly impacted the horror and science fiction genres, inspiring countless writers and readers with his imaginative and thought-provoking stories.
If you’re new to Dan Simmons’ work and looking for a place to start, here are five of his best books:
“Hyperion” (1989) — This is the first book in the “Hyperion Cantos” series, which has become a classic of the science fiction genre. It’s a sprawling epic combining space opera, time travel, and the classic quest narrative. The book is set in a distant future where humanity has colonized the stars but now faces a threat from an ancient, god-like entity known as the Shrike. The story follows a group of pilgrims traveling to Hyperion to confront the Shrike and possibly save humanity.
“The Terror” (2007) — This is Simmons’ take on the historical horror genre, blending fact and fiction to tell the story of the doomed Franklin expedition in the 19th century. The book follows the crew of two British ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, searching for the fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic. The crew soon discovers that they are not alone in the frozen waste and that a monstrous creature is stalking them.
“Carrion Comfort” (1989) — This horror novel explores the theme of mind control. The book follows a group of people who can manipulate others with their minds and use their powers to play a deadly game of cat and mouse. The story is dark and disturbing and raises questions about power, morality, and the nature of evil.
“Drood” (2009) — This historical fiction novel explores the relationship between Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, two of the greatest Victorian novelists. Collins narrates the book and tells the story of their friendship and collaboration on the unfinished novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” The book also weaves in horror and supernatural elements and raises questions about the nature of creativity and madness.
“Ilium” (2003) — This is the first book in the “Ilium/Olympos” series, which is a blend of science fiction, fantasy, and classical mythology. The story is set in a distant future where humans have colonized the moons of Jupiter and recreated the world of ancient Greece on Mars. The story follows three parallel plotlines: a group of humans sent back in time to witness the Trojan War, a sentient machine tasked with observing the humans, and a group of gods watching from the sidelines.
So why should you read Dan Simmons? Because he is one of the most talented and versatile writers in the horror and science fiction genres. His books are rich and complex, combining elements of history, mythology, and philosophy to create entertaining and mind-bending stories. Whether you’re a horror or science fiction fan or just a fan of great storytelling, Simmons’ work is worth checking out. Pick up one of his books today and prepare to be transported to worlds beyond your wildest imagination.
*Thanks for reading. I hope this inspires you to pick up Dan Simmons’ work. This article contains affiliate links. Purchasing through them will help support The Longbox of Darkness.