Saturday, January 14, 2012
Prayers to Broken Stones: Review
Prayers to Broken Stones is a collection of the early short stories by Dan Simmons. I remember being knocked out by his novel Hyperion when I read it in the early 90s. My best friend sent me this collection of short stories shortly thereafter and I somehow managed never to get around to reading it. All I can do is shake my finger at my younger self and say, "You missed something. Should have read it sooner."
Wow. I don't remember making the connection to Harlan Ellison when I read Hyperion, but if anyone comes close to writing like Ellison, it's Simmons. (And, interestingly enough, the introduction is written by Ellison and he claims to have discovered Simmons.) He has that same ability to move effortlessly between genres...a little horror here, a little science fiction there, a little bit of the dark thriller...and all of it making deft and accurate comments on the human condition. And this is his early stuff--the "I'm just getting into my writing groove" stuff. Makes me want to run out and buy the most recent thing he's written just to see if he kept it up and made it better.
This book has it all--from pyschic vampires who get their jollies (and "feedings") from making other people kill to a story of Resurrectionists who can bring your mom or dad or son or lover or whoever back from the dead. But is that really a good thing? There are stories built on the battle of Gettysburg and the loss of the Challenger shuttle. And stories cutting the televangelists down to size. There's even a story explaining why there seems to be so much more cancer nowadays....and stories that hold the seeds that would grow into Hyperion.
The man can write. He can take you back in time to a Civil War battlefield or whisk you away to a planet you've never heard of--and you absolutely believe that you're there. He may have just started in these stories, but he's miles ahead of other first-time writers. Four stars.
I desperately want to talk to her now. I want to ask her who it was who so deftly crafted and shaped the legend that was our love.
"Remembering Siri" (page 121)
The past is dead and buried. But I know now that buried things have a way of rising to the surface when one least expects them to.
"Iverson's Pits" (page 237)