After reading Drood by Mr. Simmons, I had to step back to the beginning of his career (well, almost to the beginning). The second book he published (that I know of) is essentially a Chaucer-esque collection of short-story characterizations of seven “pilgrims” on their way to meet a “living deity” by the name of Shrike. It’s set in a distant future, where over 130 planets have been colonized and adapted for independent ideologies, connected by a web of information, telecommunication, and “farcasting,” and filled with intricacies all the hardcore scifi lovers salivate over.
I don’t get emotional easy, especially while reading a novel, particularly a scifi novel, but this man made it happen. Delving into the complexities of immortality in concern with evolution, living long enough to have seen Old Earth die and still not be able to finish a poetic masterpiece, to falling in love with an replicant man owned by an AI, to understanding the complexities of the “Ultimate Intelligence,” Simmons basically placed a scifi shotgun in my face and, with a smile, he blew my mind. I cried a little when, because of his existing in faster-than-light travel, a man watches his lover turn old and die in the span of ten months. It was sad because he cared very little for her until she died, and she held such a power he would never hope to understand.
Okay. So maybe he didn’t blow my mind so dramatically, per se, but he definitely inspired me. It’s an old, old book. I’m sure everyone’s heard of it. I don’t think it’s even in print anymore. It’s the first in a pair of novels, and first in a four-novel cycle, surrounding the violence of a new era in future mankind.
I recommend reading it. He’s great with personalization, and great with the imagination.
The very same day my wife finished Drood. She said she wouldn’t give me the book back: I had a hardcover copy, and she wanted to keep the paperback for later reading. Great.
I purchased The Terror, also by Simmons. I have to be honest–and I’ve never said this about a writer before–this guy’s my quintessential writer. He does all the things I want to do, writes a powerful historical fiction I get lost in, and isn’t afraid to take risks in his writing. He is who I want to be when I grow up, as a writer.
It almost disillusions me how such a great man is such an impressive writer; what do I have to offer except parlor tricks?