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The Terror: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hugo-winner Simmons (Olympos) brings the horrific trials and tribulations of arctic exploration vividly to life in this beautifully written historical, which injects a note of supernatural horror into the 1840s Franklin expedition and its doomed search for the Northwest Passage. Sir John Franklin, the leader of the expedition and captain of the Erebus, is an aging fool. Francis Crozier, his second in command and captain of the Terror, is a competent sailor, but embittered after years of seeing lesser men with better connections given preferment over him. With their two ships quickly trapped in pack ice, their voyage is a disaster from start to finish. Some men perish from disease, others from the cold, still others from botulism traced to tinned food purchased from the lowest bidder. Madness, mutiny and cannibalism follow. And then there's the monstrous creature from the ice, the thing like a polar bear but many times larger, possessed of a dark and vicious intelligence. This complex tale should find many devoted readers and add significantly to Simmons's already considerable reputation. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The prolific and versatile Simmons turns to historical fiction in this fine narrative of the lost Franklin expedition of the 1840s, in which nearly 200 men sailed in search of the Northwest Passage aboard two converted naval vessels, Erebus and Terror. They seemingly sailed off the face of the earth, until remains of the longest survivors among them were discovered many years later. Simmons makes the Terror's Captain Crozier his protagonist, and through his eyes we see history infused with sf, fantasy, and horror elements: sf because the expedition went farther into the then unknown than did the Apollo astronauts; fantasy because the hardships of the grippingly described arctic environment played havoc with their minds; and horror because the men perished in ones and twos, in dozens and scores, from boat accidents, falls, scurvy, hypothermia, exposure, starvation, and parasitic infections. Crozier survives by taking refuge among the Inuit and covering the expedition's nightmarish trail by burning his ship and vanishing from civilization, by which time readers may be as emotionally drained as he. Outstanding. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Reprint edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316008079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316008075
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (567 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.
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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Wayne C. Rogers on February 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! That's about the only word that comes to mind with regards to Dan Simmons' newest novel, The Terror. Call it a coincidence, but on the day I got the book in the mail from Amazon back around the middle of January, the science show on PBS, Nova, had an hour special on the 1845 Franklin Expedition. I watched it with great interest, wondering how Mr. Simmons was going to add to the tragic story with his novel. When I was able to start the book a few days later (766 pages of small print), it surprisingly took me almost two weeks to finish it, and I'm a fairly fast reader. I'd read each night before going to bed for a couple of hours and end up having bloody nightmares about the Arctic, the cold, the sounds inside the ships, and the strange creature lurking out on the ice, patiently waiting for each of the crew members to make a careless mistake so that it could kill them. I don't generally have nightmares, but I did with this book, which shows the utter craftsmanship that was used in its writing. I can happily blame Mr. Simmons for two weeks of restless sleep! Before I move on to a brief synopsis about the story, let me just say that I've been reading the novels of Dan Simmons since the late eighties and the publication of The Song of Kali. Mr. Simmons is one of those unique authors who can write with true excellence in any genre that he chooses--science fiction, horror, suspense, hard-boiled crime, mainstream, and now historical/horror. I've never been disappointed with a novel by Mr. Simmons, and when he sets his mind to it, he can literally scare the living daylights out of you with the written word. Few writers today are capable of doing that to a reader.Read more ›
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70 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Mike O'Connor TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Normally, when 250+ reviewers have had their say, I'd opt out of commenting on the book in question. However, since I doggedly stuck it out through all 769 pages of THE TERROR, I guess I earned the right to add my two cents.

First off, you have to give Dan Simmons high marks for imagination and for research. By the time you've read THE TERROR, you know more about polar exploration, ice physics, the short- and long-term effects of extremely low temperatures on homo sapiens, food canning, 19th century English social mores, Inuit culture, etc. than any 1,000 people picked at random. And, at first glance, the marvelous twist he supplies to his re-imagining of the fate of the 1845 Franklin expedition - there's a wee beastie out there as well - promises chills galore.

Though I enjoyed much of THE TERROR, ultimately I was disappointed. The book bogs down with endless descriptions of the god-awful conditions the men had to endure, way too much verbage which ultimately dilutes the book's punch. Somewhere around page 400, I stopped enjoying the tale, lost that suspension of disbelief novels need to capture to be successful and began questioning plot elements.

The book's erratic narrative style was another bump in the road. Simmons started out having characters relating events in succeeding chapters, which initially jump back and forth chronologically. Then he jettisoned that device, switching to a straight-ahead timeline before ending the book in time-out-of-space native culture mumbo-jumbo. Likewise, about halfway through, he began featuring other characters as narrators who seemed to be introduced mainly to set up a later plot development.

To his credit, many of the characters were well drawn. Crozier, Franklin, Irving, Fitzjames, the monstrous Hickey, etc.
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66 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on January 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the things I love most about historical fiction, and history, is creation myths and the impact they have upon their culture's religion and social ideas policies. Knowing a creation myth can give you the outlook on life for an entire culture. For instance, Greeks believe that first there was chaos and out of it came love and then the world, the sky, the gods and finally animals and people. Eskimos believe something entirely different and it says much about their culture and way of life.

Now you may be asking what Eskimo creation myths have to do with a historical novel about an expedition to find the Northwest Passage which was never seen from again. The answer is quite a lot really. I won't give it away but keep in mind that the author of this novel, Dan Simmons is known mostly for his science fiction and fantasy work. Keeping with that genera, though this book is definitely historical fiction, it has heavy mystical influences and a great deal to do with the creation myths of the people who habitat the cold land near the article circle.

"The Terror" is based on real people and real events-to an extent. There was an exploratory expedition headed up by Sir John Franklin to find the Northwest Passage and the two ships were named "The Erebus" and "The Terror" and they did disappear never to be seen from again. However the events of this book are all fiction.

When we begin the story the two ships have been trapped in the ice, immobile for two years. Their food supplies are running down, and their coal, and their moral. A mysterious Eskimo woman with no speech is living with them, feared by many of the men as a witch.
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