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Song of Kali

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  5,949 ratings  ·  442 reviews
Dan Simmons. Song of Kali. [New York]: Bluejay Books, [1985]. First Bluejay printing. Octavo. 311 pages

Think you know true fear? You don't.

Think you've read the most chilling book? Not even close.

Think you can't be shocked? Good luck!

Maybe you're ready for the most truly frightening reading experience of your life, the World Fantasy Award-winning novel that's been terrifyi

Hardcover, First Edition, 311 pages
Published November 1st 1985 by Bluejay Books (first published 1985)
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Thus begins Dan Simmons’ visceral, violent travelogue through the dark, murderous underbelly of Calcutta. This was an excellent read, but you should know going in that this is NOT a warm, fuzzy, feel better about humanity story. In fact, you might want to have your favorite blankie or stuffed animal or a bottle of Scotch and some happy pills with you before you begin reading this to help hold back the glooms.

Here’s the basic set up.


M. Das, one of India’s greatest poets, mysterio
Excellent. Dan Simmons is fast on his way to becoming one of my favorite authors.

I felt horrified during a lot of the book, and saddened during a lot of it, but I like the way that it isn't totally and completely engulfed in despair. (Though pretty depressing enough.) I like the way that the protagonist decides to "fight back".

It's not "scary" as in "boo" but it is horrific in it's stark depiction of the horror lurking in the human soul.

The reason why I rated this so highly, is that it worked ve
Song of Kali isn't one of Dan Simmons' best works, but it is a fine example of what makes him one of my favourite writers: his range.

Simmons loves history, mythology, authors, writing and reading, and his loves have led him to create one of the most varied bodies of work amongst active writers (although it appears he will soon be challenged for the crown by China Mieville). He's written about John Keats in space, Ernest Hemingway in the Gulf, the Greek Gods, Franklin's lost Arctic expedition, re
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Does for India what Heart Of Darkness did for Africa; uses it as a setting for a tale of unease and terror that could have been set anywhere, really, except that using a third-world setting plays to the western gallery's delicate sensibilities.

This is a superbly structured and masterfully woven horror novel; it's also a fucking travesty of the real nature of Kali and her various manifestations. He's taken a unique female power-divinity, something with no parallel in any other living religion, a
* A 300-page diatribe against Calcutta, which city evidently offended Simmons at some point.

* His hero, Bobby Luczak, is a coward who behaves stupidly and illogically; he's an effete literary type who one would think would treat his mathematician wife with some respect, but who repeatedly hides things from her and deserts her without reason. He claims to have a terrible temper, yet he's impotent in a crisis.

* He has a child, a 7-month-old daughter, whose very existence serves only one unpleasant
I feel slightly detached from this book and I'm guessing this is not the type of reaction which the author had hoped for. I am happy to have stepped into one of Simmons fantasy-horror novels since I have only read his Hyperion series, which I should probably read again as my memory on that series is at times fuzzy. I loved the first half of Song of Kali but once the story picked up, a little over half through, I felt less connected and consequently less interested. After wondering for the better ...more
Horror is not my normal territory. It isn't my alternate either. As far as genre fiction goes I probably reach for a horror novel as often as I reach for a fantasy novel. But this is Dan Simmons we are talking about. After reading Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, I was intrigued. How poetic could Simmons make horror? How literate?

I liked the 'Song of Kali'. It was a good story. I'm just not sure I'd count it as great horror. It wasn't that scary. It was definitely more psychological and mental
Tim Pendry
Nov 09, 2008 Tim Pendry rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: horror, five-star
What an exceptional book within the horror genre - a true masterpiece and extremely hard to put down.

The problem with reviewing it is that it is hard to comment without 'spoiling'. To appreciate it you have to cast your mind back to the period when, and the places where, it was formed in the mind of Dan Simmons as a young American liberal and literary intellectual - in the India and the US of the late 1970s and the early 1980s, just as the former looked like an intractable social problem of neve
Dan Simmons is one of the most skilled writers of science fiction currently putting pen to page (or however that metaphor would work in a post-paper age). His Hyperion series is a well-regarded classic that takes Chaucer's Canterbury Tales into the space-faring age and his Ilium and Olympos still stands as the most interesting rendition of a post-singular society-slash-retelling of Homer's epic-slash-paen to Shakespeare that I've ever read.

It was with great excitement that I picked up Simmons' 1
Arun Divakar
Kolkata is a city of contradictions. One side of the road would show magnificent high rises while the other has shanties and hastily put together human habitations. You travel through roads where garbage is piled high and refuse floats through large bodies of water. Turn a bend in the road and you see a tree lined pavement, well cared for houses and apartments and the road will lead you to some of the swankiest shopping malls in town. There is a mix of the old and the new, the beautiful and the ...more
Well, this is embarrassing. I finished the book this morning and am feeling clueless. I’m not sure I ‘got’ it.
Husband: Well, did you like it or not?
Me: I really liked it.
Husband: Why did you like it?
Me: I’m not sure.
Husband: What was it about?
Me: Ummm, evil. And India. Crime…I think. Cultural differences. But also likenesses. It’s a horror story but, well, not really.
Husband (with a tone): Well, I certainly can’t wait to read it.

Funny thing is, I recommend this…highly.
I am a huge Dan Simmons fan and the Hyperion series is probably my all time favorite series. This is Dan's first novel and while much different than his science fiction is still awesome. But OMG is it dark and disturbing and filled with descriptions of squalor and violence and some very unpleasant people. This one will stay will you after you are done reading it.
Laura Floyd
Aug 10, 2007 Laura Floyd rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horror fans
This is supposed to be the scariest book ever. It is scary in spots and maintains a rich tone dripping with dread. And it makes you want to never visit India. But it wasn't all that scary, I think because the scary things are all in Calcutta. As soon as the characters return to America, the threat disappears.
I'll say that this book was rather short and well written. It contains endless descriptions of Calcutta and its overpowering smell that reaches the high heaven. Seriously, Brown described it as putrid sort of place filled with lepers, filthy, and vileness of a third world country that makes anyone reading this book not even consider going there to visit its rich culture. He might be right but it's not fun to read such things when there is hardly anything going on in the book.

There was not much
Although this novel is classified as horror, the nature of that horror is somewhat ambiguous. There are hints of supernatural horror and there is the presence of violent criminality but, in some ways, it is the Indian city of Calcutta (Kolkata in modern spelling) itself that is the true horror portrayed in this book. This is due to its densely overpopulated environment, its shocking levels of deprivation, its gulfs of inequality, and its poor sanitation – all of it worsened by the monsoon season ...more
A strange thing happened while I was reading this book.

All through the first half or thereabouts, I gritted my teeth and cursed. I didn't think I would enjoy the rest of the journey. Had I given up partway through, I would have come to goodreads years later (I read this book in 2007 or so) and probably given it two stars.

Then, something happened. I realised, or at least I think I did, what Simmons was trying to do, and I understood that the reason I was having a hard time with this book was tha
Randolph Carter
Xenophobic and overrated terror novel.
Due to a longstanding affinity for horror fiction and film I consider myself pretty jaded to and desensitized by the morbid, the creepy and the fucked up. The scars inflicted by these kinds of things on my psyche are old and pale and don't hurt on even the coldest days. That said, every time I finish a Simmons novel there's always a few fresh traumas that I have to deal with. Even stuff that you wouldn't think would be very disturbing like Hyperion cosmically scarred me. I don't know why I keep ...more
Not sure how to fully convey what the reading experience of this book is. Engrossingly bad is accurate but a little general. Man goes to Calcutta and has a dreadful time potentially mirroring authors own unpleasantness in Calcutta and potentially entire book is an exercise of working through said unpleasantness -a little dismissive. Reader discovers the horror genre is not for him but begrudgingly admits he woke up in the middle of the night and finished the whole book strategically ignoring all ...more
This is one of the most auspicious debuts of any author. Simmons' style was pretty much developed from this first novel published in 1985. He continues to be the best horror writer alive when he wants to write horror. However the really horrific thing about Song of Kali is Simmons' devastating descriptions of Calcutta. Go into this novel with little or no information about it in order to get its best impact.
This novel was not what I had expected from the reviews. It had atmosphere, but that is about all. I found it tedious, boring, and a big disappointment.
In Jones & Newman's "Horror: 100 Best Books," Edward Bryant, writing of his choice for inclusion in that overview volume, Dan Simmons' "Song of Kali," mentions that Simmons had spent precisely 2 1/2 days in Calcutta before writing his first book, in which that city plays so central and memorable a role. Despite Simmons' short stay, Bryant reveals that the author filled "voluminous notebooks" with impressions and sketches of the city, and any reader who enters the grim but remarkably detailed ...more
Христо Блажев
Дан Симънс рови сред ужасите на индийската митология в “Песента на Кали”:

Чели ли сте сагата “Хиперион”? Или двутомието “Илион” и “Олимп”? И в двете Дан Симънс се доказва като един от най-великите фантасти на всички времена. Но в “Песента на Кали” се откроява друга негова дарба – на разказвач на страшни истории от ранга на Стивън Кинг.

Журналистът Робърт Лучак е командирован в Калкута да издири поет, който се счита за загинал преди 8 години при мистериозн
This blew me away. When I started it, I thought it was going to be thriller with some serious horror elements to it and wondered if it would be for me. and then it got good. and then it got better. and then it hit its climax and stunned me.

Its dark. There is magic and gods and lots of foreign ideas. There were many times I wanted to yell at Bobby Luczak, the main character, but I never wanted to stop reading. For a bit, I thought it was a horror novel. It's not. It's a very dark fantasy but I do
I really go for books set in India, and about India, and written in India... Not that this needed any help, it is an excellent novel with sympathetic characters, gripping action, and enough mystery to satisfy anyone. It ends well, which is terribly important to me. I do have one complaint, and I have no idea if this problem is with the book as written or the edition that I read - which is that there were many errors in spelling, spacing, punctuation and actual words missing which seriously inter ...more
Man, this book is something else. So many unanswered questions. I'm going to be tossing and turning all night long wondering what the hell happened here.
11811 (Eleven)
Fucking Simmons. Always hit and miss for me.
Trixie Jack
For the majority of this book, I thought there were some creepy scenes and it was excellent writing, but it didn't really scare me. It was rather like reading a Stephen King novel; I enjoyed the ride, but I wasn't going anywhere important.
But then, about 20 pages from the end of the book--it's as if you're on a bicycle, coming out of an alleyway on your way to work in a sleepy little French village on a beautiful July morning, and just as you look ahead and smile, WHAM! you're crushed to the pav
First, the back cover copy (almost identical to the brief description here on Goodreads) is laughable. Granted, I'm a jaded horror reader and, as I've mentioned before, haven't been scared by a book yet, but this is far from the "most truly frightening reading experience" of my life. Not even close.

The story never really grabbed me, either. Novels about writers are not something I find interesting and I didn't know this was until after I'd decided to read it. Even without that aspect to this nov
Sudipto Saha
Although Dan Simmons talks about many ancient practices of Hinduism that were rendered illegal by the insurgence of British humanitarian laws, the scope of this novel and its main focus go way beyond that. From the perspective of the Indian folklore and myths, he puts forth how the “age of Kali” (which is metaphorically synonymous to “the era of destruction”) has begun. Though the book is dark and disturbing at certain parts and the opinion of the protagonist, Luczak, is offensive towards the Hi ...more
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Indian Readers: Song of Kali Translations 1 15 Jul 21, 2012 09:53AM  
  • Darker Than You Think
  • Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories
  • The Mark of the Beast and Other Horror Tales (Dover Horror Classics)
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • In a Lonely Place
  • Time And The Gods
  • Our Lady Of Darkness
  • The Dark Country
  • The Emperor of Dreams
  • Wingman  (Wingman, #1)
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams
  • Gloriana
  • Freehold
  • Voice of Our Shadow
  • The Well of the Unicorn
  • Nifft the Lean
  • The Pet
  • The Green Pearl and Madouc (Lyonesse, #2-3)
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, ...more
More about Dan Simmons...
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2) The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #4) Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3) The Terror

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“The Song of Kali is with us. It has been with us for a very long time. Its chorus grows and grows and grows. But there are other voices to be heard. There are other songs to be sung.” 6 likes
“There were reprints of American editorials. Liberals saw it as a resurgence of social protest and decried the discrimination, poverty, and hunger that had provoked it. Conservative columnists acidly pointed out that hungry people don’t steal stereo systems first and called for a crackdown in law enforcement. All of the reasoned editorials sounded hollow in light of the perverse randomness of the event. It was as if only a thin wall of electric lighting protected the great cities of the world from total barbarism.” 1 likes
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