The Terror

The Terror is a lengthy, engrossing interpretation of what might have happened to two ships that disappeared whilst searching for the Arctic passage over two hundred years ago. This being Dan Simmons, that interpretation naturally includes a supernatural beastie and a lot of cold suspense.

The recollection of reading the book (I read it back in December) conjures up a lot of lasting, favorable impressions. One impression was that it was, in the end, worth getting through. There were several times when I wondered if Dan had written over 700 pages in this tale just because he would be embarrassed to put out a book without at least 700 pages in it. His adherence to detail and the characterizations involved allow me to still feel a chill thinking of the British sailors trying to find the Northwest passage, instead being marooned above the Arctic circle, in incredibly harsh conditions.

The introduction of the monster leant a larger aspect of the story, without entirely interfering with the eventual outcome, and yet providing room for maneuvering in the tale of an expedition that was never found. Simmons' talents lie in introducing strange elements and weaving them into "normal" situations. His ability to do this creates that atmosphere of creepy suspense that has made him a formidable horror novelist, and one of my favorite science-fiction authors.

This lengthy fictionalized interpretation of the fateful expedition, in retrospect, felt like a perfect book to read during a long snowstorm, comfortably huddled under a warm blanket.

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