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Prayers to Broken Stones [Paperback]

Dan Simmons
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

7 Oct 1997
A woman returns from the dead with disastrous results for the family who loves her.... An old-fashioned barbershop is the site of a medieval ritual of bloody
terror.... During a post-apocalyptic Christmas celebration, a messenger from the South brings tidings of great horror.... From a ghostly Civil War battlefield to a combat theme park in Vietnam, from the omnipotent brain of an autistic boy to a shocking story of psychic vampires, journey into a world of fear and mystery, a chilling twilight zone of the mind.

From the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra Books (7 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553762524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553762525
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,528,537 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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dan Simmons answers your prayers 18 Mar 2003
No wonder this won the 1991 Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Story Collection. It opens with the finest Introduction to a book of short fiction I have ever read. Written by Harlan Ellison, he recounts how he ‘discovered’ Dan Simmons whilst chairing a writer’s workshop. Dan was one of the hopeful students, and his story, ‘The River Styx Runs Upstream’ (included here), impressed Harlan so much that he asked if he could submit it in the Twilight Zone magazine short story competition, which it won. Although this tale of love and loss - told from a child’s perspective - is the collection’s stand out story, there are other equally dazzling pieces that show Dan’s diversity and genius. My favourite is ‘The Death of the Centaur’: a very moving tale about the relationship between an English schoolteacher and Terry, one of his pupils. This story moved me to tears when I realised what Terry had done to his teacher’s yarn at the end. Another beautiful tale is ‘Remembering Siri’: a sci-fi romance, which paved the way for the novels ‘Hyperion’ and ‘Fall of Hyperion’. The novella version of ‘Carrion Comfort’, arguably Dan’s best-known novel is also included here. Of course the ending is different. ‘Iverson’s Pits’ is a wonderful revenge story, linking back to the American Civil War. However the book is not without its weaker moments. ‘Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams’ is too long and makes little sense. We could have done without the insipid ‘E-Ticket to Namland’ and ‘Shave and a Haircut, Two Bites’ is a horror story that didn’t really work for me. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice variety 22 Sep 2002
By Glenn McDorman - Published on Amazon.com
Although this is mainly a collection of Simmons's early horror work, there is an astonishing amount of variety. There are classic ghost and vampire stories, science fiction horror pieces, science fiction work, and a few stories which defy categorization. As a whole the collection is fun, with the author's introductions as interesting and entertaining as the stories themselves. Each story is well written and enjoyable to read. If you've been disappointed with much of Simmons's recent work, you won't be with this collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great short fiction 26 Oct 1998
By Doug Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
If you're not in the mood to sit and read an entire novel, Dan Simmons' short stories are a great way to pass time. He is a very gifted writer and I have read everything he has written. I especially liked "The River Styx Runs Upstream", and "Vanni Fucci is Alive and Well and Living in Hell." The former a horror story along the lines of Stephen King and the later hilarious. Also included is the novella to Carrion Comfort which, in novel form, one of the best horror novels ever written. I recommend anything and everything by him, especially the Hyperion novels, Summer of Night, and Carrion Comfort.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best short stories I have read 27 Jun 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Dan Simmons continues to weave intricate tales in "Tales to Broken Stones". A collection of 13 short stories, Dan Simmons displays his impressive writing skill in multiple genres. While one or two of the stories were a bit boring, most riveted me to my seat while I read them. The commentary on each of the stories by Simmons helps set the tone.

Included in this book are the short stories that inspired Simmons's Hugo award winning Hyperion and his high aclaimed(and intensely scary)Carrion Comfort.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adequate Collection; Evolution of Simmons Into Novelist 20 Jun 2005
By Eiji Hirai - Published on Amazon.com
I've read and have been impressed with Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos and Carrion Comfort, and wanted to explore his short stories to see if they were up to his novel's quality.

Unfortunately, the short stories are mostly from his earlier years and aren't really up to the incredibly high standards he's set for himself with the Hyperion series, Carrion Comfort and other novels.

The stories are adequate, but none of them really stick in the mind after a while. If they were from any other author, I would say there "good" though not excellent, but knowing Simmons, I'd rate them as "just ok". Some of the stories seem to be more concerned with hammering the reader with the "message" rather than telling a good yarn. This is most evident when his rant (err, story) against televangelists. I agree with Simmons viewpoints, but didn't care much for the story.

However, this collection does offer some interesting glimpses into his novels. First, "Remembering Siri" is word for word, a chapter in his later Hyperion novel, and this is where it started. Second, "Carrion Comfort" is probably the best short story in the collection (and hence, the last story in the collection) and this forms the first chapter of Carrion Comfort, the novel. Again, this is where it started. Third, "Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams" forms the basis of his later novel The Hollow Man, with exactly the same characters and premise. You can also see his fascination with the US space program in "Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds", which was marred by getting the "message" across at the expense of storytelling. He explores the US space program from a different angle later on his novel Phases of Gravity. Lastly, there is a "story within a story" in "The Death of a Centaur" about a teacher telling kids a fantasy story. The story involves Raul (err, Raoul Endymion) guiding an unlikely band of characters to save the universe, battling the Shrike (yes the Shrike) and Wizards (err, The Pax) who are out to get them. The story is, well, standard fantasy fare, but it's interesting to note that he uses this story as a basis of his later Endymion novel.

So this collection is interesting if you're interested in "forensic" analysis of where some of his later great novels came from, but as storytelling tales in themselves, they're ok, not great. Having read both his novels and short stories, I recommend reading more of his novels before plunging into his weaker short stories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a sample-platter of Simmons 23 May 2008
By Kevin N. Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Dan Simmons is known to write some very heavy books. Which makes it all the more fascinating to read this, a collection of his short works. For someone who might not be familiar with his writing, this anthology is a mostly excellent place to start, and gives you an idea of the broad style and genres this author works in.

I won't give a breakdown of all the stories. Suffice to say they compliment his novels very well, and in many cases are direct starting points for his books. Inside this collection you will find a Horror, Sci Fi and a hint of the fantastic. They don't all click (as tends to happen in collections you will enjoy some more than others), but they are all uniformly creative, and do not generally repeat themselves (Although I suppose the inclusion of 2 tales of Evangelism, although different, may qualify as a repeat to some).

I was reminded a little of Clive Barker's Books of Blood, which also shows a wide variety of imaginative scenarios, and many references to classical literature.

I would easily recommend this collection to fans of short stories, if nothing else because they are all unique and far removed from the formulaic 'twilight zone episode' stories that often constitute short stories. Simmons almost always paints on a large canvas, and his short stories are no exception. Not every story is perfect, but what is rare about this anthology is that Simmons uses the short story in so many varieties of application that you can't help but be impressed with the man's talent. Very entertaining.
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