Dan Simmons (born April 4, 1948 in Peoria, Illinois) is an American author most widely known for his Hugo Award-winning science fiction series, known as the Hyperion Cantos, and for his Locus-winning Ilium/Olympos cycle.
He spans genres such as science fiction, horror and fantasy, sometimes within the same novel: a typical example of Simmons' ability to intermingle genres is Song of Kali (1985), winner of World Fantasy Award. He is also a respected author of mysteries and thrillers.
His most recent work is the The Terror, an historical-suspense tale with horror undertones.
Simmons received a B.A. in English from Wabash College
in 1970, and, in 1971, a Masters in Education from Washington University
in St. Louis, Missouri
. He subsequently worked in elementary education until 1989.
He soon started to write short stories, although his career did not take off until 1982, when, through Harlan Ellison's help, his short story "The River Styx Runs Upstream" was published and awarded first prize in a Twilight Zone Magazine story competition. His first novel, Song of Kali, was released in 1985.
Summer of Night (1991) recounts the childhood of a group of pre-teens who band together in the 1960s to defeat a centuries-old evil that terrorizes their hometown, Elm Haven, Illinois.
This novel, which was praised by Stephen King, is similar to King's It, in its focus on small town life, the corruption of innocence, the return of an ancient evil, and the responsibility for others that emerges with the transition from youth to adulthood.
In the sequel to Summer of Night, A Winter Haunting, the protagonist, now an adult, revisits his boyhood town to come to grips with mysteries that have disrupted his adult life. Another pseudo-sequel is Children of the Night which features a much older Mike O'Rourke, now a Roman Catholic priest, who is sent on a mission to investigate bizarre events in a European city. Another Summer of Night character, Dale's younger brother, Lawrence Stewart, appears as a minor character in Simmons' thriller Darwin's Blade while the adult Cordie Cooke appears in Fires of Eden.
Soon after Summer of Night, Simmons, who had written mostly horror fiction, began to focus on writing science fiction, although in 2007 he returned with a work of historical fiction and horror, The Terror.
Simmons became famous in 1989 for Hyperion, winner of Hugo and Locus Awards for the best science fiction novel. This novel deals with a space war, and is inspired in its structure by Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
Many of his works have similarly strong ties with classic literature:
- Carrion Comfort derives its title and many of its themes from Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem
- "Vanni Fucci Is Alive and Well and Living In Hell", a 1988 short story lampooning televangelists included in Prayers to Broken Stones, is about a brief return to earth by the title character, an inhabitant of Dante's Inferno
- The basic structure of Hyperion is taken from the Early Modern cycle of stories The Canterbury Tales. A varied group of individuals are on a pilgrimage to solicit a kind of demon-god called "the Shrike" on the planet "Hyperion" in a universe on the edge of the apocalypse. Each pilgrim tells his or her tale of why they are going to see the Shrike. The Fall of Hyperion is the conclusion to the story of the pilgrims rather than a stand-alone sequel. Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one work in two volumes.
- The Hollow Man (1992) is influenced by Dante's Inferno and T. S. Eliot
- A short story from 1993, "The Great Lover", is inspired by the World War I War Poets.
- In The Fall of Hyperion, John Keats appears as one of the main characters.
- His Ilium/Olympos cycle is inspired by Homer's works. Both Shakespeare and Proust are mentioned as well.
- The character of Ada and her home Ardis Hall in the Ilium cycle are inspired by Vladimir Nabokov's novel Ada or Ardor, which was Nabokov's foray into the science fiction genre and alternate history.
In January 2004, it was announced that the screenplay he wrote for his novels Ilium
would be made into a film by Digital Domain
and Barnet Bain Films, with Simmons acting as executive producer. Ilium
is described as an "epic tale that spans 5,000 years and sweeps across the entire solar system, including themes and characters from Homer's Iliad
and Shakespeare's The Tempest
." In July 2004, Ilium
received a Locus Award
for best science fiction novel of 2003.
- Hyperion (1989) - Hugo Award 1990, Locus Award 1990 (Science Fiction)
- The Fall of Hyperion (1990) - Locus Award 1991 (Science Fiction)
- Endymion (1996)
- The Rise of Endymion (1997) Locus Award 1998 (Science Fiction)
- Ilium (2003) - Locus Award 2004
- Olympos (2005)
- Hardcase (2001)
- Hard Freeze (2002)
- Hard as Nails (2003)
Simmons has won a number of literary awards spanning different genres, including a Hugo Award, three Locus Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and a Bram Stoker Award. Entertainment Weekly
named the 2007 novel The Terror
to its "Fiction of the Year" list.