While Dan Simmons has produced some extraordinary books in the past few years, including the much acclaimed Hyperion and Children of the Night, this masterwork surpasses them all. Lovedeath is a one-volume illustration of the fact that Dan Simmons is one of the most talented writers of the generation, with a stunning ability that transends genre.
In the opening story, Entropy's Bed at Midnight, Simmons spins a suspensful, poetic tale that includes everything good about the way Stephen King writes internal dialog along with a dash of humor and a aura of quiet forboding. This is pure dramatic short story and compares well to any recent work of "serious" short fiction.
Dying in Bangkok, the next story, has a much different, darker tone. Here, Simmons takes a genre flooded with terrible writing, the erotic horror tale, and weaves a masterwork. Brilliant characterizations, a breathtaking description of a city lost in empty sensuality and sensationalism and a subtle blending of the supernatural carry the reader on a quest, deep into a dark, mysterious world.
His next tale would best be described as fantasy. It's an invented Native American legend, as told by an old tribal medicine man. Suffice it to say that I spent quite a while in the library trying to find out whether this story was Simmons's invention or the real thing. Once again, Simmons creates characters so human, the reader can't help but accept their world as real.
In the final story, The Great Lover, the theme of love, death and hope present in all four stories, takes clearer shape. Here Simmons writes what I believe is possibly one of the finest short story ever put to paper. On the surface, it's a touching story about the horors of war, but it's the subtle philosophy of hope that Simmons has been hinting at throughout the entire collection that really takes center stage here.
This collection is a sterling example the increadible talent that is Dan Simmons. The only question left is "is there anything he _can't_ do?"