A new author to me, recently stumbled upon. I happened to notice in my local library, a copy of a very recent (publ. 2013) novel by Dan Simmons: “The Abominable”. From the front cover, it clearly involved “extreme” mountain-climbing. And, I having a fancy for cryptozoological stuff-and-doings, the title immediately suggested to me the Himalayas, and yetis. I just had to borrow the book, to find out what it was like; and to what extent it might actually treat of mysterious giant hairy bipeds.
I find that Dan Simmons is an American novelist, with a tally of nearly thirty published works. I’m in the UK – perhaps his fame is less here, than in his home country; but I had never heard of the guy before the above library “chance encounter” the other day. Googling indicated that his work spreads widely between and among genres – spanning and merging sci-fi, horror, and fantasy; and his output also includes a fair number of mysteries and thrillers.
I’ll admit to being somewhat less than captivated by this first – and so far, only – work by this author, that I’ve read. It is essentially about mountain-climbing (a subject about which the author at least seems extremely well-informed), with a hefty dose of international espionage / covert war-type skulduggery. Revolves around a fictional attempt to climb Everest, by a very small group, in the mid-1920s; plus battling against the machinations of fanatical German early Nazis, also active in that area for reasons of theirs. To my disappointment, no actual yetis feature: just a matter of occasional in-passing yeti lore; and various “bad-ass” humans using the legend to spread alarm and despondency, and to pass off their depredations, as acts by the alleged hairy giants.
I found the book pretty hugely long – some 650 pages – and the writing of it, highly expansive and wordy. All manner of different things are voluminously described / narrated, in leisurely fashion – especially, greatly assorted technical minutiae related to mountaineering. (I did a lot of skipping of those parts.) There came to mind, the accusation often levelled by non-devotees, at Tolkien – “ far too much verbose descriptive / expository stuff, just for the heck of it ! – get on with the action !” – and while this guy’s writing is far from horrifically-bad, he is for sure no Tolkien. I feel that this novel would be improved by being cut to half its actual length.
In addition: in this work, the author comes out with a few glaring inaccuracies concerning stuff which I do know about ; leading me to wonder how sound his knowledge truly is, of mountaineering – a subject re which I know next to nothing. Plus, numerous small errors / sloppinesses in spelling and use of English. I don’t feel, at present, eager to explore further works by Dan Simmons: but in view of what gathered, about his other output – I wonder whether any participants here, are aficionados of this gentleman’s work, or some of it; and would feel inclined to put a case for his merits? It’s possible that I have just chanced to come upon one of his less-good efforts.