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Song of Kali

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  8,205 Ratings  ·  626 Reviews
Calcutta: a monstrous city of immense slums, disease and misery, is clasped in the foetid embrace of an ancient cult. At its decaying core is the Goddess Kali: the dark mother of pain, four-armed and eternal, her song the sound of death and destruction. Robert Luczak has been hired by Harper’s to find a noted Indian poet who has reappeared, under strange circumstances, yea ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 21st 2008 by Gollancz (first published 1985)
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L A streak?!? Talk, about understatement! I found it very disturbing, especially from an author whose work I've truly loved. The story itself, ok,…moreA streak?!? Talk, about understatement! I found it very disturbing, especially from an author whose work I've truly loved. The story itself, ok, horror. But all of Calcutta and her people as filthy, disgusting, dishonest and evil? As for the take on one of India's goddesses? Wow! I will admit to being pretty ignorant of Indian religions. But, this was over the top. (less)
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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
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
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
Edward Lorn
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who aren't hypocrites.
Shelves: paperbacks
Dan Simmons is known for his massive novels. This is not one of them. Why? Well, it's rare that you'll find a horror author who started out their career with a massive tome as their debut novel. Why? Because money, that's why.

Straub had Julia, King had Carrie, McCammon had Baal, and Simmons had this one. What do they all have in common? They're all debuts that are around 300 pages long from authors known to write gargantuan books. Horror is a risky business. Publishers are frugal when it comes
Mar 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
Aug 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
* 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
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Sometimes there is only pain. And acquiescence to pain. And, perhaps, defiance at the world which demands such pain."
― Dan Simmons, Song of Kali


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
Tim Pendry
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
This is a more literate genre novel than most. The story was gripping and propulsive even when I had a hard time suspending disbelief. But the images of Calcutta seemed somewhat stylized--Dickensian squalor without the redeeming Dickensian prose--and the characters didn't exactly wow me with their depth. Then again, this is a genre novel, so maybe my expectations were a little off? Maybe. Still, in the end I liked it well enough.
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
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Flights of Fantasy: September 2015 - Horror: Song of Kali by Dan Simmons 5 38 Sep 20, 2015 01:54AM  
  • Darker Than You Think
  • The House on the Borderland and Other Novels
  • The Mark of the Beast and Other Horror Tales (Dover Horror Classics)
  • Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • In a Lonely Place
  • The Second Book of Lankhmar  (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #5-7)
  • The Well of the Unicorn
  • Gloriana
  • Freehold
  • The Emperor of Dreams
  • Time And The Gods
  • The Dark Country
  • The Pet
  • The Conan Chronicles: Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (The Conan Chronicles, #1)
  • Glimpses
  • The Green Pearl and Madouc (Lyonesse, #2-3)
Dan Simmons 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, journalism and art.

Dan received his Master
More about Dan Simmons...
“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.” 9 likes
“Sometimes there is no hope," whispered Das.

"There's always some hope, Mr. Das."

"No, Mr. Luczak, there is not. Sometimes there is only pain. And acquiescence to pain. And, perhaps, defiance at the world which demands such pain."

"Defiance is a form of hope, is it not, sir?”
More quotes…