Tag Archives: Dan Simmons

SF Signal Book Review: Children of the Night by Dan Simmons

Children of the NightI reviewed this book over at SF Signal today. Here’s a sample:

Children of the Night begins with a preface of the author’s first hand research visiting Romania and historical locations important to Dracula’s life, and the tragedy of that country’s orphan problem. The story begins with a team of Americans visiting Romania to investigate the orphanage system in order to report back with recommendations for aid. The characterization is interesting enough to keep you reading, and when this section ends, the reader is left with a haunting revelation about the vampires’ plans.

Dr. Kate Newman is the main character, and the book follows her struggle to fix a long-broken system of treating orphans with inadequate supplies and methods. Kate is a strong-willed character who shows how much she’s willing to lose to save an abandoned baby. Once she returns to the States, an amazing scientific discovery leads to her heading up a team of researchers eager to cure AIDS and remove the vampires need for human sacrifice. They, of course, don’t like that idea, and life-threatening action ensues. The consequences of this action are where the story fails. After this twist, the direction of the story takes a hard left away from the initial premise. Kate goes to Romania with her priest friend, Michael O’Rourke–whom readers of Summer of Night should remember and root for–and together they try and take down the Vampire Mafia.

What ensues is a cross between Dracula and The Bourne Identity, but fails to deliver like either.

Read the full review at SF Signal.

Other books/stories I’ve reviewed by Dan Simmons:
SUMMER OF NIGHT
“This Year’s Class Picture” in the zombie anthology, The Living Dead ($2.99 for Kindle).

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Top 10 Reads of 2012

 

There are a couple handfuls of good books I read in 2012 that deserve to be recognized, but here are my top ten. Judging the top three hurts my heart, because you could put them in any order and I’d be fine. It may be that their order is there based on order of being read. Hugh’s book was the first to really amaze me. He and T.C. and James, (the other authors in the top three,) have earned my loud speaker for everything they write. I have reviews for all of these books except James’s, because that will be up at SF Signal shortly. I hope to get these authors and more on my AudioTim podcast in 2013. Continue reading

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Book Review: SUMMER OF NIGHT by Dan Simmons

I first learned of Dan Simmons from his story “This Year’s Class Picture,” in the Living Dead anthology, and loved it so much I wrote a Saturday Spotlight about him and this story. One of the benefits of this blog series has been learning new writers to follow, and notice when I’m perusing spines at the book store. This was how I found SUMMER OF NIGHT, at Half Price Books. The idea of a bunch of sixth graders fighting ghosts in a small town one summer sounded appealing, and fit right in as research for a Cub Scout zombie story I was working on. The paperback is 600 pages long, but I finished it today concluding that it is one of my favorite Horror reads. For me, the difference between a 4 and a 5 star book is whether you finish it with a “wow” feeling. That’s how this book ended, and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Continue reading

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Drooling Over My To Read Pile

First, I apologize for not posting a Saturday Spotlight this past weekend. It’s my first time missing it, and I’m sorry. I took my brother in law snowboarding and developed a massive headache afterwards that left me not wanting to do anything but drink water and stare at my laptop. I read a lot of short stories last week, but none made the cut. I was going to mix it up a little and post the video I recorded, but I recorded in fast forward, so all my videos were two seconds long. At that point, I took the hint that I should just give up and call it a night.

So, now that I’ve recuperated, I’d like to share a little about what I’m reading. It’s sort of like a spotlight, but it also relates to those of us with larger reading piles than we can handle. I’m not going to list the ten books on my Goodreads “currently reading” list because some of them lost my attention and I don’t want to post negative publicity. I’ve learned that I wax and wane between genres and I am currently most interested in horror. That means the Epic Fantasy books have been put down. I know they’re good books, and so I don’t want to ruin the read by reading them when I’m not interested in that type of story. Continue reading

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Saturday Spotlight: Dan Simmons

Some of you more well-read friends might be asking yourself, “Dan Simmons? Why don’t you give us the inside scoop on some guy named Stephen King? Or, oh, have you heard of Dune?” Okay, maybe he’s not that popular, but the more I research this guy, the more I’m surprised I’ve never heard of him.

My intro to Dan Simmons came from his story, “This Year’s Class Picture,” in the zombie anthology, The Living Dead ($2.99 for Kindle). Turns out this story won major awards (Locus, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy…) The story was first published in, Book of the Dead 2: Still Dead.

This Year’s Class Picture:

As the intro story to The Living Dead, I came into this read with high expectations. Dan places the reader into the life of a remarkably interesting woman, on a particularly important day. An elderly school teacher, and potentially the last teacher on Earth, impressed me with her resolve to survive. They say you have to keep your mind working or you’ll lose it. Well, she does so by maintaining her teaching routine with a class full of zombie children. The school bell rings and she begins writing the day’s schedule on the chalkboard – so used to the gum smacking behind her that she is no longer terrified or even threatened by their presence.

I’m giving this story 5 stars because it accomplished exactly what I wanted from the set up. I slipped easily into the setting with his precise detail and fascinating scenario. This clever woman found a way to fortify a school using a man made moat doused with gasoline, a bulldozer to clear out the kill zone, and a video monitor system complete with spotlights and alarms. Dan makes this believable by including a janitor that helped her and the local library for research. This is a zombie story about her love for her class that goes beyond their deformity and shows her excellent character willing to keep going despite the hardship set before her. This story is just the kind of vignette into survival that I like to see within the zombie genre.

Great research for my work in progress about Cub Scout zombies.

So, pick the story up with me going into Half Price Books on Black Friday with a coupon to kill. The horror section there is about five big-name authors mixed with several that I’ve never heard of. I remembered Dan Simmons from The Living Dead, and saw that he had some books there. I picked up Summer of Night, which despite a torn chunk off the back cover, looked very appealing.

Two blurbs caught my attention. On the cover, Stephen King wrote, “One of those rare must-read books. I am in awe of Dan Simmons.” Then on the back, the Denver Post wrote, “Impressive…combines beautiful writing and suspense into a book for which Dan Simmons deserves the bestseller status of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.” After reading these, I thought, “This is a perfect example of why I have Saturday Spotlight.” Not that my enormous web presence is going to be the missing link to Dan’s success, but because I want to point people to the authors we haven’t heard of, and who belong in the same sentence with the big names of their genre.

So far, I’ve only read the first twelve pages of Summer of Night, but I can already tell I’m going to finish it. That’s in spite of the first four pages describing the Old Central school (a creepy description, indeed). I can tell why Stephen King likes him. More so, I like him because he writes real characters – the kind that draw you in and make you want to stay to hear their story.

Thank you for stopping by. Do you have any favorite Dan Simmons stories? Here’s a link to his bibliography.

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