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Song of Kali (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 10 Mar 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (10 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575076593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575076594
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 14 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,013,870 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tobias Murran on 6 Jan 2004
Format: Paperback
As with other novels by Dan Simmons, the worst horror is the reality so movingly depicted. The real monster is Calcutta, a city dedicated to Kali, goddess of death, with its open morgues and its fresh dead on the morning streets - something that should be dead, but putrefyingly persists. This is not the only source of horror, however - at least one scene in an unlit room had me reading with my hand over my mouth in fear. And the ending is heartbreakingly desolate. As Mr Simmons says, don't blame him that his books are marketed as horror, and don't blame him for the artwork. He is a highly literate author whose novels are driven by character, not incident. A satisfyingly frightening and surprisingly moving read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. K. Akram on 9 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1989. I found it unputtdownable then. Now, twenty years later I got hold of copy on ebay and lent it to a friend. My friend was also spellbound and finished it in three days.

The book brings Calcutta alive in way that I have not seen any author do. The story is well paced. There is mystery and suspense. The brooding, evil underside of Calcutta is really well structured. Not that Calcutta is like that - but its a fictional device that works very well.

The shock ending really got me - I was truely suprised and upset - so I won't spoil it for you.

The way he creates M Das as a student of Tagore is entirely believeable. The character Krishna leaves many unanswered questions. I would LOVE to see a sequel to this book.

I would recommend this books to anyone interested in India / Kali.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By REB on 24 Sep 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll admit that I bought and read this novel expecting it to be more of a pacy bestseller style read. Instead, the book I discovered had more of a literary air to it - although plenty of chills and gripping episodes were included - in a read that proved quick and enthralling.

Yes, as other reviews on this site point out, the plotting is very minimal, but in my opinion nonetheless engaging for all of that. One of Simmons' strengths as a writer is his rendering of atmospherics and place - he uses the backdrop of Calcutta to instill a nagging sense of misery and unease in the reader - the perfect backdrop to his central motif of the goddess of death and destruction. But he is also aware enough to address the problematics of a Western perspective on India, including wry - and not dry - discussions about this within the body of the text.

Without going into the details of plot, the narrative follows a downwards spiral which is quite compelling for the reader in its bleakness - in the way that say, Stephen King's Pet Semetary is. Rather than follow that well trodden path into the void however, Simmons ultimately, is able to produce a quiet, hopeful ending that lifts the book above run of the mill horror shockers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arcturus on 1 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback
Be transported to the smells, sights, sounds of Calcutta and experience the city through the eyes of the protagonist. While there, you'll experience the many layers of reality that Dan Simmons creates, and each layer adds to the richness and depth of this hauntingly disturbing tale. Graphic yet subtle, reading Dan Simmons's books is like watching a movie in my head, but better. Creepiness that lingers and haunts you for days. Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. P. Wright on 26 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this about five years ago just after our second child had been born and within that context the themes in the book scared me senseless! The descriptions of Calcutta are so moving and horrifying that it'll put you off ever visiting the place, I am sure for the Indian tourist board Dan Simmons is up there on its list of villians.
Calcutta in the book is a character all by itself, and a Lovecraftian character at that.

There are complaints that the story lacks a plot but I just don't understand this- it's a complaint made of a lot of Simmons' work but in my opinion this is a reflection of sometimes relatively simple plots being drawn out longer than would normally be the case thanks to Simmons fullsome descriptions of events, surroundings and fully fleshing out of characters and background story. All are a key part of his style and really reward the more patient reader.

This is a must read for both horror and Simmons fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By plot hound on 31 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
This reads a little like an old fashioned horror, all about the atmosphere rather than the events themselves with lots of exotic native colour.

Robert is a decent character who behaves in a perfectly reasonable and believable manner as things get progressively weirder and worse.

The pace never seems hectic even at the climax but there is always something strange happening. The transitions from apparent normality to complete insanity are handled quite well.

The problem is the same as with Simmons other books, the ending doesn't do justice to the story, it is ok but a bit of a let down, the energy in the book just sort of peters out.

A decent read but spoiled by the weak ending.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alex Fell on 23 April 2005
Format: Paperback
The Song of Kali was Dan Simmons' first novel. As such, it is something of an apprentice work. The themes which appear in his beter known works (the Hyperion Cantos and the Olympos series) are present: scholarly heroes, writers and great literature, and doomed children and the effect on their parents. The setting (Calcutta in the 1970s) is also extremely vivid and well described - there is an awful lot of wading around in filth, and a clammy, miasmic feeling is very strongly evoked.
But it has to be said, not a lot really happens. Our hero arrives in Calcutta to see a supposedly deceased poet, has a few stories related to him about the cult of Kali, a few nasty things happen to him (and one very nasty thing) and then he heads off again. The plot does seem a bit thin, and becomes fairly incoherent towards the end. And the tone is not really very fantastical or horrific - it is probably deliberate on the author's part, but we never really find out if his fantastical expreiences are real or not, or just figments of his imagination.
Overall, this is a good book and a worthwhile read if you like Dan Simmons. But it is not his best, and if you are new to this author, try Hyperion or Olympos first.
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