April 4, 1948 |
Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
|Genre||Science fiction, horror, fantasy|
|Notable works||Novel: Song of Kali (1985) Novel: Hyperion (1989)|
Dan Simmons (born April 4, 1948) is an American science fiction and horror writer. He is the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles, among other works which span the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres, sometimes within a single novel. A typical example of Simmons' intermingling of genres is Song of Kali (1985), winner of World Fantasy Award. He also writes mysteries and thrillers, some of which feature the continuing character Joe Kurtz.
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He soon started to write short stories, although his career did not take off until 1982, when, through Harlan Ellison's help, his short story "The River Styx Runs Upstream" was published and awarded first prize in a Twilight Zone Magazine story competition. His first novel, Song of Kali, was released in 1985.
He worked in elementary education until 1989.
Summer of Night (1991) recounts the childhood of a group of pre-teens who band together in the 1960s, to defeat a centuries-old evil that terrorizes their hometown of Elm Haven, Illinois. The novel, which was praised by Stephen King in a cover blurb, is similar to King's It (1986) in its focus on small town life, the corruption of innocence, the return of an ancient evil, and the responsibility for others that emerges with the transition from youth to adulthood.
In the sequel to Summer of Night, A Winter Haunting (2002), Dale Stewart (one of the first book's protagonists, and now an adult), revisits his boyhood home to come to grips with mysteries that have disrupted his adult life. Children of the Night (1992), another loose sequel, features Mike O'Rourke, now much older and a Roman Catholic priest, who is sent on a mission to investigate bizarre events in a European city. Another Summer of Night character, Dale's younger brother, Lawrence Stewart, appears as a minor character in Simmons' thriller Darwin's Blade (2000), while the adult Cordie Cooke appears in Fires of Eden (1994).
Soon after Summer of Night (1991), Simmons, who had written mostly horror fiction, began to focus on writing science fiction, although in 2007 he returned with a work of historical fiction and horror, The Terror. In 2009, he also wrote a book, Drood, based on the last years of Charles Dickens' life, leading up to the writing of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which Dickens had partially completed at the time of his death.
The Terror (2007) crosses the bridge between horror and historical fiction. It is a fictionalized account of Captain John Franklin's expedition to find the Northwest Passage. The two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, become icebound the first winter, and the captains and crew struggle to survive while being stalked across an Arctic landscape by a monster.
The Abominable (2013) recounts a mid-1920s attempt on Mount Everest by five climbers—two English, one French, one Sherpa, and one American (the narrator)—to recover the body of the cousin of one of the English characters.
Many of Simmons' works have strong ties with classic literature. His 1989 novel Hyperion, winner of Hugo and Locus Awards for the best science fiction novel, deals with a space war, and is inspired in its structure by Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Hyperion Cantos take their titles from poems by the English Romantic John Keats, while that of Carrion Comfort, as well as many of its themes, derives from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. In The Fall of Hyperion, John Keats himself appears as one of the main characters, with references to characters in Forbidden Planet and The Time Machine.
Other influences upon his work include:
In 2009, Scott Derrickson was set to direct "Hyperion Cantos" for Warner Bros. and Graham King, with Trevor Sands penning the script to blend the first two cantos "Hyperion" and "The Fall of Hyperion" into one film. In 2011, actor Bradley Cooper expressed interest in taking over the adaptation. In 2015, it was announced that TV channel Syfy will produce a mini-series based on the Hyperion Cantos with the involvement of Cooper and King.
The Terror (2007) is being adapted as an AMC TV series.
Dan Simmons has been nominated on numerous occasions in a range of categories for his fiction, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Bram Stoker Award, British Fantasy Society Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and World Fantasy Award.
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