The Terror

The Terror

Audiobook CD
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Publisher: New York, NY : Books On Tape.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9781415937136
Call Number: SIMMONS
Characteristics: 18 CD's
Subjects: Adventure fiction.
Compact discs, Book.
Sea monsters -- Fiction.
Shipwrecks -- Fiction.
Shipwreck survival -- Fiction.


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Apr 02, 2018

“The Terror”, a novel by Dan Simmons is without equivocation, the single most tedious and dreadful book that I have ever followed down to the bitter end. It is based on the true story of the most harrowing catastrophe in the history of world exploration. This is of course the infamous Franklin Expedition of the 1840’s when two Royal Navy ships “Erebus” and “Terror” were dispatched into uncharted waters in what is today the Canadian Arctic in an effort to find the elusive Northwest Passage. It was thought that two wooden ships equipped with primitive steam engines could travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean between a labyrinth of islands and peninsulas that were frozen into the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean most of the year. The infamy of the Franklin Expedition is the fact that both ships vanished into the Arctic wastes and every man aboard them perished. This is not a spoiler. It is an historic fact.
The known information in this episode are strange and compelling enough to prompt the writing of a fictionalized novel based on these events. That is what I thought that I was getting when I picked up this tome. What I got instead was the equivalent of a “Twilight Zone” episode that just goes on and on and on, seemingly forever. Dan Simmons has hammered the known facts into a bizarre amalgamation of the genres of high adventure, horror and surrealism. It is as though Edgar Alan Poe wrote “Moby Dick” or Maupassant wrote “Treasure Island”.
Imagine that Captain Cook had not been killed by Hawaiians but instead by Godzilla, or that Ferdinand Magellan had been killed by King Kong. It wasn’t the Sioux and the Cheyenne who obliterated Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn. It was the work of werewolves and skin walkers. This is the sort of absurdity one is expected to swallow when the author of “The Terror” tries to tell his readers that Franklin and his men were all slain by some imaginary Eskimo bogyman.
The other dreadful feature of this novel is that the writer seems to take sadistic glee in describing the deaths of almost the entire crew one at a time in gruesome and inventive detail. The result is that the story becomes progressively more ghoulish and ghastly. This book is not so much a thriller as it is a glacially paced tedium to be endured. It took me months to get through this book. I set it down for long periods only to return in the hope that pace would pick up. Oddly enough it does toward the end when the story takes a right angle turn into the ludicrous. There is even an element thrown in on the very last pages that comes out of nowhere. It is as if Simmons ran out of ideas and just threw a few leftover buckets of gore up against the wall to see what would stick.
This book has inspired a ten-part television miniseries produced by Ridley Scott, the director of “Alien” and “Blade Runner”. It appears that the dramatists have walked back a lot of the implausible conjectures and badly bound story structure of the book to make this horror/adventure more palatable (pun intended). Think of it as John Carpenter’s “The Thing” meets “Master and Commander”.


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