Posts Tagged ‘Dan Simmons’

Adventure and intrigue await a small party of climbers at the top of the world in Dan Simmons’s ‘The Abominable’

December 6, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 6, 2019

1924. Europe is recovering — some parts more quickly than others — from the Great War. The world’s highest summit, Mount Everest, has yet to be scaled, although the Royal Geographic Society and other adventurers are keenly interested in doing so. Mountaineering in general is a hazardous endeavor, even as some climbers have begun using bottled air to battle the oxygen deprivation that is endemic at higher altitudes.

Near the beginning of The Abominable, Dan Simmons’s 2013 novel, a 37-year-old English war hero secures backing from the family of a British aristocrat who’s disappeared on the perilous slope. Together with two fellow climbers — Jean-Claude Clairouox, 25, certified by the world’s oldest association of mountain guides, and the narrator, Jacob Perry, 22, a recent Harvard graduate and member of an esteemed Boston clan — Richard Davis Deacon gathers the equipment and expertise that the trio will need to find a body high up on the colossal peak.

“The Deacon,” as his friends call him, wishes to conduct the trip in secrecy in an effort to avoid interference from potential rivals. Deacon has other reasons for the clandestine approach, as Perry and the readers will discover in the course of events. Together with a party of Sherpas, a cousin of the missing Lord Percival Bromley who operates a Darjeeling tea plantation, and a hardy doctor with an unusual background, the climbers confront a variety of antagonists, not least of which is the massive mountain’s challenging terrain and formidable weather.

Read the rest of this entry »

Seeking the summit: Dan Simmons offers five short science-fiction tales in ‘Worlds Enough and Time’

July 5, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 5, 2015

Worlds Enough and Time, the 2002 anthology by virtuoso author Dan Simmons, contains five short stories. (A few, in truth, are somewhat longish.) Two of the pieces are excellent; the other three are flawed but interesting.

The stories are presented in chronological order beginning with the oldest, “Looking for Kelly Dahl,” which was originally published in 1995. It begins as a cat-and-mouse tale about a dissolute former public school teacher named Roland Jakes who is hunting, and being hunted by, one of his former students.

Kelly Dahl was a largely unremarkable child when Jakes taught her; now, however, by some unknown process, she’s acquired godlike powers. You can get a sense of them by reading the story’s opening:

I awoke in camp that morning to find the highway to Boulder gone, the sky empty of contrails, and the aspen leaves a bright autumn gold despite what should have been a midsummer day, but after bouncing the Jeep across four miles of forest and rocky ridgeline to the back of the Flatirons, it was the sight of the Inland Sea that stopped me cold.

“Damn,” I muttered, getting out of the Jeep and walking to the edge of the cliff.

Read the rest of this entry »

2001: A science fiction odyssey — Volume 19 of Gardner Dozois’s excellent ‘Year’s Best Science Fiction’ lives up to the series standard

May 17, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 17, 2014

If you love science fiction but have never read The Year’s Best Science Fiction, then I urge you to remedy that immediately. Launched in 1984 and now in its 30th annual volume, the series is curated by legendary editor Gardner Dozois. Each edition contains roughly two dozen stories; some are just a few pages long, with others stretching to novella-length. A mix of writers prominent and otherwise is represented each year.

A few weeks ago, I came across two volumes from the series at a used bookstore. The pair included the 19th annual collection, which was published in 2002 and anthologizes top stories from 2001.

The book opens with “New Light on the Drake Equation,” Ian R. MacLeod’s chronicle of the life of a lonely, dissolute SETI hunter. (That acronym stands for search for extraterrestrial intelligence, natch.) Protagonist Tom Kelly is listening for signals from intelligent alien civilizations on a mountaintop in France a few decades hence. The astronomer has all but shut himself away from his earthly surroundings, which are quite fantastic in their own right: Those who are rich enough can genetically re-engineer their bodies to be capable of flight and their minds to be fluent in other languages.

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: