By Dan Simmons
LoveDeath is a speculative fiction novel by the award winning author Dan Simmons.
I met Simmons at a recent Danish book fair and had a small talk with him about the range of his published work and the problem of categorising books. Not being a very well read Simmons fan (The Hyperion Cantos and Carrion Comfort) I decided to broaden my horizon and read something different to what I'm used to from Simmons. And what better place to start then this collection of five very different novellas.
Entropy's Bed At Midnight (38 pages).
Understanding entropy may not be a positive thing if you can't help calculating the risk of everything you do. Strange little story about the many forms that death and mishap can take. Funny in a morbid way. Dying in Bangkok (50 pages). Probably one of the first AIDS vs. Vampire stories ever written, which isn't terrible inventive or original, but I guess somebody had to do it. Luckily Simmons does it very well in a story that manages to be both arousing and nauseating at the same time.
Sleeping With Teeth Woman (85 pages).
If the words "Vulva Dentate" means anything to you, you will probably have a better understanding of the titles meaning than you want to (at least if you are male). Telling the tale of a young Sioux brave who tries to understand and save the destiny of his own life and the future of his people (the Native American Indians). Fantasy and reality entwined. One of the best places is the two page trashing given to Kevin Costners "Dances with Wolves".
Flashback (55 pages).
The story about an America brought to its knees by the drug Flashback (which will let you relive a short period of your past). A good kick in the butt to the kind of nostalgic people who just can't seem face up to live in the present.
The Great Lover (120 pages).
Taking place in the trenches of World War I this is mostly a hundred twenty pages of misery and death. Luckily Simmons has chosen to write the story in the form of a diary from the fictional poet James Edwin Rooke, giving some light or at least humour to the story through some real WWI poetry.
All in all five fantastic stories, non-of which is very easy to categorise or describe. Most of them could probably be described as magic realism to use a modern term (which isn't quite meaningless yet), but no matter how you decide to categorise them they are wonderful stories that prove that Simmons can write anything he decides to and do it beautifully.
Review by bon
No sleep, must post.
This fantastic book LOVEDEATH is a collection of short stories all with death as the theme. It was like shooting thru a tub of butter with a cannon the way I went thru this book. Mostly Fiction.
The first story was written like an H. Ellison story running back and forth between reminiscenses of bizzarre insurance claims (ha funny deaths and accidents ha), and a guy on a sled with his daughter with some impending doom by the end (death oriented book). To me it was the weakest of the stories but written really well enough to keep me going.
The second story is about a horrific encounter with a blow job vampire whose feeding technique makes the stomach turn a blushing red (admist colored lights and cheerleaders) in a really fascinating way. Vietnam vet goes in for a freak show with his buddy and gets the biggest eyeful of wierd this side of C'thulu mating rituals. I dont want to give away any of it. Im dying to tell ya about it though!!! What a story!!!
"Sleeping with Teeth Women" is a thorough short story based on Souix Indian legend. As a reaction to the ever boring Kevin Costner "Dances with Wolves" movie, this story puts the straight arrow back in the bow instead of the wet noodle. A spook story about Lame Badger who needs some teen sex immediately. Wanting to be a man, he goes out for a fasting with elders and has his dream vision. It's a disturbing dream of sexy women with grinding sex teeth he has to sleep with. Endless torture meets him on the way to fulfilling his quest of sleeping with teeth women where he will definitely loose his baby maker. Ha!! You must read this story!
"Flashback" is a drug that lets you relive precious moments of your life. Tune in and drop out. You're 18 again! Kids like to commit crime and flash on them later. Ladies love intimate moments of love. Men go for the sex. Grandpa thinks he's in the secret service with JFK. What? There's a conspiracy since Japan has made use of this drug punishable by death, America is slacked off on everything economically since the intro of the drug. Japan may be supplying the world with it and reaping the benifits of global bank supreme. Young Val is getting peer pressure to rape or kill and flash on it with his tough peers. Short and fucked this is a great read. The closest to sf in the whole book.
The last story is a killer. "The Great Lover" has a poet in WWI (many poets died in that war apparently) stuck in the labrynthian trenches of the battlefield watching extreme scenes of horror every day. It's Dante's Inferno Cake with Night of the Living Dead frosting over the entrails. Endless horror (based on true accounts) plague Rook the writer as he puts in his journal the groups of men sent to blow to pieces and rot in puddles while useless arms paw at their over detailed eviseration. In the maze of horror generals show up now and then to show how proud they are or upset with the men in losing limbs or lives. Like aliens from another world commenting on the price of rice or something having very little to do with the incredibly dire, dire, dire, situations the fighters are in. Main writer Rook begins to hallucinate that a woman (death?) wants him to stay with her. Gangreen and blood/gut covered situations make this the endall of all horror stories. A slice of hell served on heads of hundreds of blown to bit bodies. I've never read anything more disturbing...
Written on 1st April 2000 by TC .