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Song of Kali Paperback – January 15, 1998
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Horror critic Edward Bryant calls Song of Kali "an exactingly constructed, brutal, and uncompromising study of the degree to which an evil place may permeate and steep all that makes us human" and writes that it embodies "the stance of a psychologically violent novel about a violent society as a defensible and indisputably moral work of art." Song of Kali won a World Fantasy Award. --Fiona Webster
“The best novel in the genre I can remember. Dan Simmons is brilliant!” ―Dean R. Koontz
“Song of Kali is as harrowing and ghoulish as anyone could wish. Simmons makes the stuff of nightmares very real indeed.” ―Locus
“Dan Simmons understands terror and what it does to readers. Where Stephen King flinches, Simmons doesn't.” ―Edward Byrant, Mile High Futures
“Shock treatments abound!” ―The Chattanooga Times, Tennessee
“An absolutely harrowing experience.” ―F. Paul Wilson
More About the Author
Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years -- 2 years in Missouri, 2 years in Buffalo, New York -- one year as a specially trained BOCES "resource teacher" and another as a sixth-grade teacher -- and 14 years in Colorado.
His last four years in teaching were spent creating, coordinating, and teaching in APEX, an extensive gifted/talented program serving 19 elementary schools and some 15,000 potential students. During his years of teaching, he won awards from the Colorado Education Association and was a finalist for the Colorado Teacher of the Year. He also worked as a national language-arts consultant, sharing his own "Writing Well" curriculum which he had created for his own classroom. Eleven and twelve-year-old students in Simmons' regular 6th-grade class averaged junior-year in high school writing ability according to annual standardized and holistic writing assessments. Whenever someone says "writing can't be taught," Dan begs to differ and has the track record to prove it. Since becoming a full-time writer, Dan likes to visit college writing classes, has taught in New Hampshire's Odyssey writing program for adults, and is considering hosting his own Windwalker Writers' Workshop.
Dan's first published story appeared on Feb. 15, 1982, the day his daughter, Jane Kathryn, was born. He's always attributed that coincidence to "helping in keeping things in perspective when it comes to the relative importance of writing and life."
Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987 and lives along the Front Range of Colorado -- in the same town where he taught for 14 years -- with his wife, Karen. He sometimes writes at Windwalker -- their mountain property and cabin at 8,400 feet of altitude at the base of the Continental Divide, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park. An 8-ft.-tall sculpture of the Shrike -- a thorned and frightening character from the four Hyperion/Endymion novels -- was sculpted by an ex-student and friend, Clee Richeson, and the sculpture now stands guard near the isolated cabin.
Dan is one of the few novelists whose work spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, historical fiction, noir crime fiction, and mainstream literary fiction . His books are published in 27 foreign counties as well as the U.S. and Canada.
Many of Dan's books and stories have been optioned for film, including SONG OF KALI, DROOD, THE CROOK FACTORY, and others. Some, such as the four HYPERION novels and single Hyperion-universe novella "Orphans of the Helix", and CARRION COMFORT have been purchased (the Hyperion books by Warner Brothers and Graham King Films, CARRION COMFORT by European filmmaker Casta Gavras's company) and are in pre-production. Director Scott Derrickson ("The Day the Earth Stood Stood Still") has been announced as the director for the Hyperion movie and Casta Gavras's son has been put at the helm of the French production of Carrion Comfort. Current discussions for other possible options include THE TERROR. Dan's hardboiled Joe Kurtz novels are currently being looked as the basis for a possible cable TV series.
In 1995, Dan's alma mater, Wabash College, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contributions in education and writing.
Top Customer Reviews
Opinion: I'm kind of in between on this book. At points I am amazed and disgusted by the imagery and the squalor of Calcutta. At other points I find myself just skimming to get on with the story. Simmons does a good job overall painting the city as this almost black hole of misfortune, horror, and evil. Much of it based on cult worshiping of the goddess Kali. I was impressed at how far he took the things that could and did happen in this book. Far past where a weaker author would have maybe spared us a little. Then things got a little out of character after the climax of the book. There is hope after all we are led to believe. The characters were all decently written including the city which is the main character of this horror story. I can't say how well this portrays Calcutta because I don't know anyone who has been there, but it was very vivid for me from the book that I wouldn't want to.
Recommendation: I would recommend this to Simmons fans because he is a good writer and the story is pretty good. I would not suggest this as your first Simmons book though as I think his Hyperion and Ilium stories are much better. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 overall.
The point that makes _The Song of Kali_ so intensely readable is that Simmons doesn't make the mistake of avoiding the cultural politics of a horror novel about a foreign deity...nor does he make the greater mistake of beating one over the head with relativistic blather. In one of the novel's most derailing passages, a character describes the differences between India and the west as the difference between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry...irreconcilable, nearly inconceivable.
_The Song of Kali_ has its flaws, but under the poisonous gleam of Simmons's Calcutta and even under the personal disaster that shatters the protagonist's life, there is an awareness of the darkness of an age where unspeakable violence is truly commonplace. That awareness, combined with the chilling thought that we have not, perhaps, chosen the right geometry, make reading this novel an experience that you will not -- and should not -- soon forget.
Apparently he only spent two and a half days there, but Calcutta must have made one hell of an impression on Dan Simmons. I don't know if his portrayal of it is accurate, but he's presented a dark, dirty, frightening city -- a place I've visited in my nightmares many times since reading "Song of Kali."
This is a novel that really stuck with me. In fact, after reading it I had to get rid of my copy, because it freaked me out so much. It's a thoroughly engaging story -- part of why it was so upsetting is that I believed the protagonists (a writer and his wife and baby) so completely.
Lots of writers have approached the subject of bad places -- mostly in the form of haunted houses (Shirley Jackon's classic "The Haunting of Hill House," Richard Matheson's "Hell House," and Stephen King's "The Shining" all come to mind). This is the first example of a *city* as bad place that I've seen. It's also the first book in a long time that's really scared me.
The novel feeds on our (inherent?) xenophobia, our fear of women (manifested in the devouring goddess of Kali), our passion for violence, and the all-too-real fear of our children taken from us. "All violence is power," the poet Das says. "Sometimes there is no hope. Sometimes there is only pain."
THAT, friends and neighbors, is the true crux of all great horror fiction, and Simmons doesn't hesitate to take us as far down the river at the heart of darkness. His knowledge of classic poetry, particularly Yeats, and Luczak's wife's knowledge of geometry, infuses this novel with an intelligence and moral weight most horror writers either fake or never bother with in the first place. And India has such a vast and bizarre mythology I'm surprised no one explored it before like this.
I love this book, and even picking it up again to write this review I'm tempted to read it a third time. Anyone with any knowledge of India's myths will find it all the more disturbing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am not a Dan Simmons fan. I tried Simmons The Terror (2007) an 800-page inventive bloat that became more and more unbelievable as it spun off in odd story directions. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Walt Morton
I don't post reviews often, but I saw that Song of Kali only has 3 and half stars. Absolutely ridiculous. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
Really well-written, but... shudder. I love Dan Simmons; this particular novel just wasn't to my taste because it was so dark.Published 1 month ago by Ne_Philim
Good book but not Simmons best. That said I enjoyed it. Reminded me of what Robert E Howard may have written if he hadn't cut himself off at such a young age.Published 1 month ago by Ignatius Malibu
This is a good book. I love Dan Simmons. And why pay for a new oil if you can get a used one in such great condition?Published 2 months ago by Nechama Majerczyk
Not your typical looong Dan Simmons book as i was able to finish this one in 3 nights. It helped that i wasn't able to put it down. Read more
Disturbing would be the best way I could describe this book. Once again Simmons manages throw you into a world that you know is going mess with your head. Read morePublished 4 months ago by bpetroni
I generally like Simmons but I went into this book with some trepidation due to the tepid response I read in the reviews. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gary
I really am not sure how to review this book! I absolutely loved it but hated it at the same time. Simmons' writing is pleasantly rhythmic almost, easy to read. Read morePublished 5 months ago by cee