karen's Reviews > The Terror

The Terror by Dan Simmons
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really liked it
bookshelves: it-is-for-class, tastes-like-people

**lo! i have made a readalike list for this book over on riffle!**


oh my god, let me never get scurvy.

i am glad i am such a grad-school overachiever. for both the horror/sci-fi and mystery portions of my readers' advisory class, i have read one extra title from the selection list, and both times, i have liked the extra title best. (i did not choose to read an extra romance title, so we will never know how that would have turned out, alas)

this book is a rare combination of to the lighthouse, and the thing, with hardy-esque occurrences of misunderstanding and some cannibalism thrown in for the kiddies. plus boats and ice and monster.

like the descent, it is the supernatural elements of the story that end up being the least scary. nature is scary enough. cave-exploration, even for feisty extreme-sport doing, athletic-looking girls, becomes terrifying, even before any monsters show up. monsters are icing. for this book, scurvy, madness, murder, temperatures of 78 degrees below zero, starvation, frostbite, gangrene, botulism, did i mention scurvy??- i mean, isn't that enough without a giant monster stalking and eating your seamen?

but i am,to my great dismay, not easily scared.this, to me, was the most promising trailer in the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lm2hZ... but the movie was not scary, and in fact made me cross because of the ways in which it was not scary. i thought i had finally met my match, but i wound up being utterly disappointed. being scared is not too much to hope for, is it?? this book, while it is not going to keep me up tonight, has several really good "oh shit" moments. (and i hope that answers lori's question)

i love the cold, but this book made me pray for global warming to hurry up and save these poor men. (this feeling will last until one of you jokers sends me a picture of a sad polar bear - awwww) but seriously, shit is COLD!!

and i got so into the book that i took the wrong bus on monday and traveled a half hour in the wrong direction before looking up from the book to realize my mistake, and also skipped work (ostensibly because of residual bad-feeling from hellish customers yesterday and faulty alarm clock [both true:], but also because i wanted to finish this book before the ending could get ruined for me in class tonight)

it is an amazingly well-researched book, which may ruin it as horror genre-fiction for people who want their horror fast, cheap, and hard. there are tons of details about rigging and naval protocol and ice conditions and many repetitions of the survivor's names - there are echoes of moby dick here, in its dullish bits about whale anatomy that might be a staple of maritime fiction for all i know, but make the progress a little slower than the monstrous stephen king i read as the other horror title for this class. i think all the details add too much weight to the story to let it retain its status as genre fiction. for myself i would consider it historical fiction with some supernatural zazz.

but it remains totally absorbing, totally gripping, and despite all the questions i raised about the pacing, it is ultimately scarier than the king, whose characters remain cartoonish and too one-dimensional to be scary. except for large marge, cartoons are not scary. here, the danger seems imminent - there are incredible moments of tension and so many beloved characters having unfortunate things happen to them. do not become attached to any of them, because in the end, many seamen are swallowed, and several are spit out.

(that was unavoidable and you know it)

come to my blog!
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Reading Progress

March 6, 2010 – Started Reading
March 6, 2010 – Shelved
Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 122 (122 new)

Gary His book DROOD just came out in paperback. I read it from the library in hardback,and thought it was a great book. I have this one in paperback. How are you liking it so far, darlin'??

karen yeah, i bought drood when it came out in hardcover because i couldn't wait! and of course i haven't read it yet, and now it is out in a much smaller paperback. oops.

too soon to tell - i only started it on the subway in this afternoon and i took a little nap. oops2

message 3: by Lori (new)

Lori Let me know if it's scary. I can't read scary. Oh, and loved Drood.

karen i hope it is - i wanna be scared! so far, it is building towards suspense, but not terrifying yet.

message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg I'm happy to hear you liked this, maybe I'll have to finally getting around to reading this now.

You should read his Iluium diptych sometime too, especially since you've read some Proust.

message 6: by Bill (new) - added it

Bill As usual, a great review Karen. I'm glad you liked this so much as I have it and haven't read it yet. Ditto for Drood.

message 7: by Krok Zero (last edited Mar 11, 2010 08:21PM) (new)

Krok Zero I've been wanting to read this ever since Scott Tobias from the AV Club raved about it when it came out, but I kinda forgot about it...now I shall perhaps fast-track it.

karen yes - i recommend it like crazy! the last 60 pages or so are meh, but there is so much good stuff before that, i do not mind.

greg has been looking for a forum in which to use the word "diptych" for ages, i bet.

message 9: by Greg (new)

Greg actually only for about 11 hours since i noticed it on the back of a book and thought, this is a word I should use more often.

karen thanks for the link - as always, i said very little about the actual plot, and that is a good summary.

seriously- i thought scurvy was just teeth falling out. it is so so much worse. particularly in arctic conditions where the blood that is leaking out of every hair follicle is freezing and then cracking and streaming and freezing anew. shudder.

Sandi Lori wrote: "Let me know if it's scary. I can't read scary. Oh, and loved Drood."

Are you asking about The Terror? It's really scary, but the scary stuff isn't the horror-novel parts. It's the historical part that are really terrifying. He could have left out the snow monster and still had a very horrifying novel. The scurvy and the men's isolation was far more scary than any monster.

I'm listening to the audiobook of Black Hills right now. I think Simmons is turning out to be an excellent historical fiction writer. Heck, he can write anything.

karen but unless you are living in an endless arctic tundra, it is the kind of scary you can just brush off. read it with a lemon in your mouth, just in case.

message 13: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Mar 11, 2010 09:58PM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I just scoured the interwebs for a isolated clip of the scene(s) in Charlie Kaufman's/Spike Jonze's (A-M-A-Z-I-N-G) flick, Adaptation, in which an earlier quest for the Ghost Orchid is narrated, aurally and visually, showing a poor chap on a hunt for a flower dying a terrible death, ridden with dysentery AND scurvy (and other hazards, not to mention being beaten to death at the end of all the viral suffering). Came up barren-handed. I tried pretty hard to give you a link to represent my e-affection.

message 14: by Bill (new) - added it

Bill hey karen, have you read his hyperion sf novels? as usual i have those but haven't read them yet...i'm going to need to live to be 200!

karen no, greg read them and recommended them to me because byron is in them. he also read the hyperion series. i will probably read drood before i read any of that, though. it's more my usual taste.

i am going to sleep now, so mfso has 6 hours to find some useful images.

message 17: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Well, well, well, Frenchy tackles a book as long as this. The world is coming to an end! I have a rule, if a book weighs more than my head, then I do not read it. C'est magnifique, la Frenchy!!!

karen pshaw - i read long books all the time, stevie! in fact, under the dome was way longer than this one, but it took me half as much time to read, because this one has so many details and nuances that u.t.d. lacks.

this is a much more accomplished book.

message 19: by Stephen (new)

Stephen stevie! You now approach the danger zone. My aunt Lucille is allowed to call me Stevie. The rest that were allowed are all now in the nearer presence of God, and NO I did NOT put them there. Okay, Karey.

message 20: by Lori (new)

Lori Bill - Hyperion is brilliant!

I'm a huge Simmons fan, but have been holding off on being terrorized, ah thank you thank you for letting me know I can read this since I don't live in the Arctic!

message 21: by JSou (new) - rated it 4 stars

JSou except for large marge, cartoons are not scary.


message 22: by Bill (new) - added it

Bill Hi Lori, will definitely have to get to those Hyperion books. I have a signed, slipcased copy of his Prayers to Broken Stones...have you read that one?

message 23: by Lori (new)

Lori Noooooo! I never even heard of that one, thanks for that! *off to library site*

karen greg has read a bunch of simmons, i am sure he has reviewed them somewhere on this site...

message 25: by Greg (new)

Greg Most of them were all pre-goodreads.com, I don't think I have reviewed them. I should though.

karen everyone is waiting.

message 27: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell What's up with your avatar, Greg?

message 28: by Greg (new)

Greg I've been waiting for the proper time for the suspense to build for my Dan Simmon's reviews.

I've been hiding for the week or something, so no one can see me.


you should use this photo from your secret life as your next avatar. i love how the "g" connects to the "s". well done!

message 30: by Greg (new)

Greg Shit. That was supposed to be a surprise. I am proud of the way I connected the g and s though.

message 31: by Dave (new)

Dave Russell description

I'm thinking of using this for my avatar.

message 32: by Matt (new)

Matt I can only assume that you are about to release a contemporary christian album, Greg, and this is the cover. Very nice. If the review doesn't lure in the voters, the freshly pressed khakis will...

message 33: by Greg (new)

Greg I'm actually not sure what I am doing in that picture, but a contemporary christian album is probably a good guess. speaking of which I met this little shit tonight:

who wrote this book:

[image error]

I am planning on attacking this book sometime soon.

karen was he sitting?

message 35: by Greg (new)

Greg No, he came in to sign his book. He's 15. Just like the Care Bears on Fire.

karen i'm pretty sure i hate him.

message 37: by Greg (new)

Greg The only thing I like about him is that he looks like an angry shrew in the top picture.

Ask William about him tomorrow, he talked to him for a bit.

message 38: by Matt (new)

Matt Yikes. I'll bet that kid swift boated the hell out of his opponents in the recent student council elections.

message 39: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I'd thought about this for my next avatar.

message 40: by Stephen (new)

Stephen You children stay up way too late.

karen i am awake now! i thought you were going to havea felty avatar...

message 42: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Oh I could do that. You don't think the King is enough??? sobbing How about if I put the felty over his face?? :-)

karen no the king is wonderful, i just remember you had said at one point you were going to make your felty famous. on a book website.

message 44: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen Wow. This is me. I had many faces to make my selection from- thanks to my common first and last name.

Before Marriage:

and after:

message 45: by Greg (new)

Greg Jen, your second picture didn't show up.

karen yeah, and i really want to see it! mine are incredibly boring.

message 47: by Bill (new) - added it

Bill actually i like your pictures karen.

karen the ones for people who share my name?? maybe you found better ones than me. mine are just ... people. no goats, no guitars, nothing.

message 49: by Bill (new) - added it

Bill you don't need goats or guitars...i only have one picture...how boring is that...and the one of your store is neat too.

message 50: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen Really, Greg? I see both pictures. But here, I'll try again...there are Jen Fishers aplenty.

I make my own jewelery and am famous.


[image error]

I think I like to crack nuts. Watch out.

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