Terror: A Novel
Little, Brown and Co., 2007
Dan Simmons has always been an author interested in history and literature. This interest is present in Hyperion, in relation to the titan, the Canterbury Tales, and British poet John Keats; important in Illium and Olympos which mashes together elements of The Tempest and The Illiad; and essential in Drood borrowing from Dickens; his latest Black Hills involving the Battle of Little Big Horn; and here in Terror. While I have fondness for Simmons’ earlier work, I love the Hyperion and Endymion books and enjoyed Summer of Night, my interest in his later works has waned. This maybe says something about me rather than Simmons but there you have it none-the-less. Thus my relationship with Dan Simmons’ Terror can only really be described as adversarial. There are no other books that come to mind that I have struggled with even half as much as The Terror. I’ve owned the hardcover since it’s original release and made only one previous attempt at reading it. This time, come hell or high water, I promised myself I would finish this book. Of course, forcing oneself to read a book I’m clearly not too invested in makes the reading all the more difficult; a notion supported by the fact that it took me the better part of 2 months to read this novel. The Terror bases its story in historical fact, namely the journey of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror to find the Northwest Passage. Simmons’ adds into the mix a spectral monster that, along with the cold and the scurvy, whittles away at the crew of both ships.