Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

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Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

Postby Shrike on Saturday, 26 September 2009, 10:20 pm

R. Scott Bakker's work is relatively new; his first novel, the beginning of the Prince of Nothing series, The Darkness that Comes Before, was first published in 2003, and since then he has written direct sequels The Warrior Prophet and The Thousandfold Thought, as well as a start to the second series within the same "Second Apocalypse" continuum The Judging Eye (which I have not yet read), and finally a standalone novel Neuropath. His series work is all fantasy, while his standalone novel is a mix of mostly horror and some science fiction.

His Second Apocalypse novels are really interesting to me. They are strongly realized, with a memorable setting and strong cast of characters. They are set in a series of events that bears some resemblence to the Crusades of medieval history. They are also quite interesting novels in terms of thoughts that they inspired in me, the sort of stimulation of mental processes described in the Apologia of this website. The titular "Prince of Nothing" character was very different from most fantasy protagonists, in that he was primarily a manipulator of others, something that Bakker managed to pull off and make believable. I thought that Bakker's use of the limited third person viewpoint with the characters worked out well. My only real complaint is that much of the writing is merely serviceable. Some of it is quite good, and it is never actively detrimental to the story, but it fails to shine occasionally.

Neuropath is mostly horror, and therefore ought not to be the provenance of this site. But it was quite well-written horror that I recommend to fans of that genre. At times it didn't work so well, but mostly it was quite horrifying but also fascinating.


Dan Simmons has written a number of books within the fantasy and science fiction genre. He has also written a few horror novels, and indeed horror themes tend to permeate sections of his other novels. He tends to include a lot of references to classic literature in his novels, including Keats, Twain, the Illiad, Shakespeare, etc. His best piece of fiction is Hyperion.

Hyperion is a science fiction novel about a series of pilgrims travelling, on the eve of a war, and choosing to tell their tales and reasons for travelling to one another as they go; this theme is purposefully borrowed from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It is quite interestingly written, and each of the protagonists has a distinct narrative style and voice. The universe of the book is fairly detailed in it's conception, and the characters are rock-solid. It is incomplete without it's sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, which provides closure and an ending for the first book. Unfortunately, the second book in the series is rather lacking compared to the first - there is a fair bit of extraneous scenes and things that really added very little to the overall narrative. They can be found together as Hyperion Cantos.

Related books Endymion and it's sequel The Rise of Endymion is a far more pedestrian sort of novel, with a general science fiction adventure plot. It was still interesting, and the characters and universe fairly well conceived, but at times it falls a bit flat compared to it's predecessors in the same universe. It is not a bad pair of novels, merely less interesting than it's predecessor.

Simmons has written kind of a lot of other fiction, some of it relevant to this site. Illium and Olympos are interesting but not as well written as earlier books, and Olympos in particular was a disappointment. They also suffered suspension of disbelief issues at times. The Fires of Eden is a sort of mixture of horror and fantasy, and was alright but never found much interest for some reason - possibly because some characters were little more than caricatures and the ending was anticlimactic. His work tends to vary in quality a lot - some of it is excellent, while some of it is poor.

Finally, Simmons Prayers to Broken Stones is a good short story collection; while some of his short stories are completely frivolous (see: Vanni Fucci is Alive and Well and Living in Hell), others are quite well written and more than a little disturbing (see: The River Styx Flows Upstream).
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Re: Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

Postby owlcroft on Monday, 28 September 2009, 1:23 am

Taking them in reverse order:

Simmons: I read Hyperion: I started Fall of, then found myself thumbing to the end just to see what happened--and felt after reading it that I had saved myself some valuable minutes of life. Not terrible or anything, just not--to me (as always)--really anything I'd consider ever re-reading, which is about the cutoff between o and 1 in stars. (I have lots of 1-star works I never haven and probably never will, re-read, but they're 1-star, and I keep them, because someday I might . . . .)

Bakker: never sampled. I will not as yet add him to the list of "other candidates", but will make a private memo to try the first of the lot. Thank you for the clear and comprehensible summation.
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Re: Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

Postby Nightwind on Saturday, 29 October 2011, 7:28 am

Apologies; this is an epitomal excercise in thread necromancy. My defence is that threads such as this do not get old as such, but are relevant as long as these authors are read by people.

I'd like to throw in my inconsequential two cents on Dan Simmons' Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion.

I read both of them with good appetite, although the very ending of The Fall of Hyperion did not impress me. What readers most often complain about are the solutions offered in The Fall of... to the mysteries set in Hyperion. I didn't find anything despicable about the way Simmons wrapped up the story; indeed, as a story, it was rather good (apart from the very ending, as I said, in which the characters' humours seemed to reflect Simmons' relief of having finished his book more than the atmosphere of the surrounding events, or something to that effect). For those who wish to read masterfully written science fiction, it's not the right series or the right writer. I'm not particularly wounded by simple, competent prose when it manages not to hurt the reading experience, fail as it may to really enhance it, but without doubt my biggest gripe was with the pacing of The Fall of Hyperion. The technique of abruptly jumping from one character's point of view in the greatest moment of tension to another character's seemingly pointless musings and less intriguing (mis)adventures is all too familiar (*cough*GRRM*cough*), and not a style I like. The framestory perhaps provided a fitting excuse for this kind of pacing, but it nevertheless annoyed me.
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Re: Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

Postby johnleee on Saturday, 08 December 2012, 2:02 am

Though I can't say directly, because I watch little TV other than ball games, there is a famous television-journalism (using the word "journalism" in its loosest sense) motto: "If it bleeds, it leads."
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Re: Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

Postby DavidTate on Friday, 11 January 2013, 5:18 pm

Nightwind wrote:Apologies; this is an epitomal excercise in thread necromancy. My defence is that threads such as this do not get old as such, but are relevant as long as these authors are read by people.
I agree. I can see why it would be poor form to reply to year-old tweets, or other messages focused on the ephemeral. But here, I feel like the forum is almost part of the archive. We have the luxury to have a substantive discussion without the constraint of contemporaneity; we should take advantage of that.
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Re: Two Authors: R. Scott Bakker and Dan Simmons:

Postby james103 on Saturday, 02 March 2013, 1:28 am

Has anyone here read any of the works of Patrick Rothfuss? I've seen his name crop up a few times recently in other discussions, sometimes on the lips of authors whose works I respect. I'd be curious to hear any opinions you might have.
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