From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY --
Drood Dan Simmons. Little, Brown, $26.99 (784p) ISBN 978-0-316-00702-3
Bestseller Simmons (The Terror) brilliantly imagines a terrifying sequence of events as the inspiration for Dickens's last, uncompleted novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, in this unsettling and complex thriller. In the course of narrowly escaping death in an 1865 train wreck and trying to rescue fellow passengers, Dickens encounters a ghoulish figure named Drood, who had apparently been traveling in a coffin. Along with his real-life novelist friend Wilkie Collins, who narrates the tale, Dickens pursues the elusive Drood, an effort that leads the pair to a nightmarish world beneath London's streets. Collins begins to wonder whether the object of their quest, if indeed the man exists, is merely a cover for his colleague's own murderous inclinations. Despite the book's length, readers will race through the pages, drawn by the intricate plot and the proliferation of intriguing psychological puzzles, which will remind many of the work of Charles Palliser and Michael Cox. 4-city author tour. (Feb.) Publishers Weekly
From KIRKUS REVIEWS --
BOOKLIST ONLINE DAILY FEATURE REVIEW OF DROOD
A suspenseful and spooky descent into the last days of Charles Dickens, who expired before he could complete his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Although he doesn’t quite have the hang of Victorian prose and writes instead with modern matter-of-factness, Simmons (Muse of Fire, 2008, etc.) hits on a nice conceit at the outset, giving Dickens’s fellow novelist Wilkie Collins the job of narrating this long, shaggy dog of a tale. Collins, known today mostly for his mystery novel The Moonstone, if known at all, plays a kind of Salieri to Dickens’s Mozart, his jealousy evident: “Charles Dickens was the literary genius and I was not.” The figure of Drood first turns up at the scene of a hellish train wreck from which Dickens, 53 years old and gouty, has emerged. Drood does not cut a pretty figure, “pale eyes in their sunken sockets,” muttering unintelligibly amid the gore, but he is certainly memorable. A few score pages of preliminaries later, and Dickens is absorbed in ferreting out Droodian mysteries, rattled to discover that his necromantic quarry, “healer, master of Magnetic science, Christ figure, and secret mystic” late of Egypt, has in theory been dead for many years and that assorted cannibals, ghosts and spirit rappers figure into the grisly equation. Things get weirder still as narrator Collins nurses the various psychic wounds wrought by the recognition that Dickens, though slovenly (“pulling characters out of the air…without a thought as to how they might serve the central purpose”), will write circles around him for as long as Dickens is alive. There are, of course, remedies for that particular problem, as readers needing a quick lesson in the chemistry of the quicklime pit will discover.
A lively entertainment, reminiscent of Nicholas Meyer’s Seven-Percent Solution—and a worthy rejoinder to Dickens’s swan song. Kirkus Reviews
Everyone knows the name Charles Dickens, but only dedicated mystery buffs remember his friend and fellow writer Wilkie Collins. This is an injustice Collins wishes to rectify from the grave, so he reaches out to you, “Dear Reader” of the future, to describe his life and longings in this first-person account (ostensibly written in the 1860s for posthumous publication). Horror master Simmons makes use of his genre skill here but adds so much more. His starting point is a real event in Dickens’ life, his near-death when a train on which he was riding jumped the track. Dickens confides in Collins that a spectral presence named Drood appeared to aid (or perhaps kill) the survivors. Dickens becomes enthralled with solving the mystery that is Drood and pulls Collins into his investigation, a strange search that leads to Undertown, a city within a city beneath London, complete with filthy catacombs and opium dens (which Collins enjoys). Sometimes the question of Drood’s identity seems only a MacGuffin to pull readers more deeply into the relationship between Dickens and his Salieri-like “frenemy” Collins. That’s perfectly fine because the book is at its richest when Collins explains, justifies, curses, and laments his personal and professional association with his celebrated fellow writer. What makes Collins (and his changing views of Dickens) so fascinating is his perplexing unreliability: readers never know if his observations are his own or products of drug-induced projections. Simmons also offers a stunning re-creation of Dickens’ London and its characters that’s almost as good as, well . . . Dickens. A top-notch, genre-bending tour de force, this is where history and horror meet.
— Ilene Cooper
Link to Booklist Online review of DROOD at -- http://www.booklistonline.com/default.aspx?page=show_product&pid=3170244
Booklist Online home page at --
WARNER BROTHERS AND
GRAHAM KING FILMS TO MAKE "HYPERION"
The following news release appeared in The Hollywood Reporter on April 2nd of this year.
Warner Bros. nabs
'Hyperion Cantos' adaptation
By Borys Kit and Gregg Goldstein
April 2, 2008,
Producer Graham King has set up Dan Simmons' award-winning science fiction book series "Hyperion Cantos" at Warner Bros., with Trevor Sands on board to adapt the first two books as one feature. King is producing via his GK Films banner.
The first book, "Hyperion," won the Hugo Award for best novel in 1990, while the second, "The Fall of Hyperion," was nominated for a Nebula Award for best novel.
"Hyperion" deals with a space war, with most of the action taking place on a planet named Hyperion, known not only for its electricity-spewing trees but also for the Time Tombs, large artifacts that can move through time. The tombs are guarded by a monster called the Shrike, which impales people on metal trees.
King acquired the rights to the series several years ago, but its structure, inspired by Boccaccio's "Decameron" and Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," and its multiple timelines made the task of adapting it into a feature unwieldy and challenging.
Brought in by GK Films' Grey Rembert and Gail Lyon, Sands won over the execs by taking a selective approach to the two novels' multiple points of view in a way that managed to coherently and unconfusingly tell the story.
Lynn Harris is overseeing at Warners.
Sands co-wrote and directed the 2002 indie "Inside," starring Jeremy Sisto. Other writing credits include the Sony sci-fi project "Resurrection," Dimension's "Six Billion Dollar Man" and an adaptation of David Brin's sci-fi novel "Startide Rising" for Paramount and producer Mace Neufeld.
He is repped by Endeavor and manager Jewerl Ross.
Borys Kit reported from Los Angeles; Gregg Goldstein reported from New York.
Both the background and the current information on this project are – as always – more complicated than represented in the studio press release. Dan fills us –
“All of four of the Hyperion Cantos novels and my novella “Orphans of the Helix,” which is also set in the Hyperion-universe, were purchased for a six-figure sum by Graham King’s company IEG – International Entertainment Group – about three years ago.
“The original idea that sold the film – or franchise of films -- was based on a treatment I wrote and it was pitched and presented by two able young screenwriters. In that approach, I had deconstructed all four of the Hyperion novels so that the messiah-character of Aenea and her lover and protector Raul Endymion would have a presence in all of the films, including the first one – Hyperion. Their love story would be the continuous thread that would connect the three or four films of a Hyperion Cantos movie franchise.
“It was the actor Leonardio DiCaprio who first showed active interested in this idea for the film andfor some time there was discussion of him doing the film with director Martin Scorsese. The first draft of the screenplay was written two years ago – not by me – but producer Graham King didn’t go with that approach and the project stayed inactive since then (even to the point of my contractually not being able to announce the details of the purchase of the books.)
“Now Graham King Films has joined in partnership with Warner Brothers to make the film version of Hyperion. As you can see in the Hollywood Reporter release above, one approach now being discussed is to combine the first two novels – Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion – into one film (rather as Peter Weir combined two Patrick O’Brian books to make the film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”) – but as is always the case in the early days of such a project, everything is in flux.
“While writer Trevor Sands has been brought aboard by Graham King for early work on story concepts, there’s been no final selection of either a definitive screenwriter or director yet.
“However, there is one director I know to be under consideration who would be wonderful for “Hyperion: The Movie.” I’m not at liberty to mention his name yet, but this director knows the Hyperion Cantos novels very, very well and has a strong sense of the cinematic potential of literary SF. Indeed, one of this director’s upcoming films is a much-anticipated reworking of an SF-movie classic.
“Those who know movies and movie-making know that there’s never a guarantee of a project being completed until the last shots are in the can – and even then some films are never released. But the Graham King Films – Warner Brothers announcement of the Hyperion Cantos purchase and their plans to go ahead with the “Hyperion” movie is a huge step forward.”
DROOD Cover from Little, Brown
Click here to enlarge
Little, Brown, Dan's publisher for The Terror, has just revealed their proposed cover for Dan's next novel, Drood, currently scheduled to go on sale in February 9, 2009.
Drood, in the tradition of The Terror, is a unique mix of history, biography, and dark fantasy, but where The Terror dealt with an actual doomed Arctic expedition in 1848, Drood looks at the lives and secrets of Charles Dickens and his novelist friend Wilkie Collins in the period 1865-1870. History records that Dickens was in the terrible Staplehurst train accident of 1865 and suffered injuries - both physical and psychological -- from which he never recovered. He died suddenly on the fifth anniversary of that accident on June 9,1870.
Drood fictionally explores the dark secrets that came to obsess both Dickens and Wilkie Collins during those five years -- secrets that not only ended their long friendship but brought each writer to the brink of murder.
"I love the proposed cover for Drood," said Dan. "It conveys the brooding anxiety and dark sense of threat that I attempted to put into every page of the novel. Writing The Terror made me feel cold, even in the summer. But something in Drood has actively made me shiver from fear of the dark and this cover captures some of that sense of dread.
The Terror on 2007 Top Lists
Dan's Arctic adventure-dark fantasy novel The Terror was on a variety of Top 10 lists for 2007, including Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Books of 2007, USA Today's Top 10 Books, Stephen King's "Top 10 from My Reading in 2007" list also quoted in Entertainment Weekly, and was # 1 on Amazon.com's "2007 Top 10 SF and Horror Novels" list.
The Terror was also in the Top 12 of all books rated by Book Sense, the journal of independent bookstores.
Carrion Comfort Optioned by Costa Gavras, Screenplay Finished,
French Film Possible, Tautou Interested
For several years now, Dan's epic tale of mind-vampirism, CARRION COMFORT, has been optioned for the screen by the family of famed French film director Costa Gavras, who did the paranoid political thriller "Z" in 1969. This January, the Costa Gavras group has renewed a final option on CARRION COMFORT and announced that a French language version of the screenplay is complete. Alexandre Gavras is slated to be the director of the film version of CARRION COMFORT, and they also inform us that Pathe likes the screenplay and is considering a Greek coproduction partner. According to the Gavras group, internationally famous actress Audrey Tautou -- known to worldwide audiences for playing the title character in the award-winning French film Amelie(2001) and also Sophie Neveau in The Da Vinci Code (2006) -- is currently reviewing the screenplay in connection with a lead role.
The Gavras group has announced that they hope to begin principal photography in September of this year.
Wikipedia says of the elder Costa Gavras --
"Costa Gavras is known for merging controversial political issues with the entertainment value of commercial cinema. Law and justice, oppression, legal/illegal violence, and torture are common subjects in his work, especially relevant to his earlier films. Costa Gavras is an expert of the “statement” picture, an art form slowly vanishing from the studios of cut-throat, capital-driven cinema. [ Note -- the Wikipedia writer's phrase, not Dan's. He likes cut-throat, capital-driven Hollywood cinema. Some of his best friends are cut-throat, capital-driven, Hollywood-cinema types. Dan hopes someday to be a . . . well, you get the idea.]
Wikiepedia goes on -- "Gavras has repeatedly explored political terrain. In most cases, the targets of his work have been right-of-center movements and regimes, including Greek conservatives in and out of the military in "Z," and the U.S.-supported authoritarian governments that ruled much of Latin America during the height of the Cold War, as in State of Siege and Missing."
Dan says of a possible Costa Gavras film adaptation of CARRION COMFORT -- "I remember seeing 'Z' while I was in graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis in 1970 and I thought at the time that it was a brilliant political thriller. It caused viewers to be paranoid about everything. Since CARRION COMFORT is a novel filled with justifiable paranoia -- it turns out that "they" are out to get us -- a Gavras-family connection to a French film version of this epic novel might lead to a very interesting project. I look forward to seeing what develops"
DAN TO WRITE FANTASY TALE SET IN JACK VANCE UNIVERSE
Despite the fact that Dan has won the World Fantasy Award twice, the British Fantasy Award, a Japanese Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and various other awards with "fantasy" in their headings, some of you may know that he feels that he's never written a "real" fantasy story or novel.
That will change this year.
George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have asked Dan to write a story or novelette or novella for their upcoming proposed anthology of tales set in Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" universe and Dan has accepted . . . with pleasure.
"I respect the fact that most of the world thinks of Harry Potter when they think 'fantasy,'" says Dan. "For me, quality fantasy will always be Jack Vance and his The Dying Earth tales. I'm excited to be invited to that universe and look forward to attempting a piece of fantasy that will honor the tremendous quality that Jack Vance set as the standard in his Dying Earth stories."
Here are some of the details as forwarded in a letter to Dan from George R.R. Martin:
"Gardner and I have put the finishing touches on the proposal for the anthology we're calling SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH, and have turned it over to Ralph Vicinanza, who represents Jack Vance and will be handling this one on both the foreign and domestic fronts. We got a wonderful response to our invitations; Jack Vance is truly a writer's writer, and has had a profound influence on several generations of fantasists.
Our lineup of writers is pretty impressive, we think. In alphabetical order:
Glen Cook Michael Shea
Terry Dowling Robert Silverberg
Phyllis Eisenstein Dan Simmons
Ray Feist Jeff Vandermeer
Neil Gaiman Paula Volsky
Elizabeth Hand Howard Waldrop
Matt Hughes Liz Williams
Tanith Lee Tad Williams
George R.R. Martin Walter Jon Williams
Michael Moorcock John C. Wright
Gardner and I are hopeful that the publishers will be as excited about this anthology as we are. It should be a terrific book.
We'll keep you posted.
George R.R. Martin"
Podcast of Rick Kleffel's January 31, 2008 Interview with Dan
While in San Francisco on tour for THE TERROR at the end of January, Dan went to the NPR headquarters there to do this one-hour interview with Rick Kleffel of California's KUSP radio. Kleffel's "The Agony Column" features podcast and broadcast interviews with some of the top names in imaginative fiction. This interview focuses on THE TERROR but also includes conversations about writing SF, researching for a novel, the demise of Joe Kurtz, and other topics.
To hear this podcast, please click here to reach the Agony Column Archives and scroll down to Simmons's interview on 1-31-07 to download it in either MP3 or Real Player format.