"I knew that I wanted to be a writer even before I knew exactly what being a writer entailed." -- Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons (born April 4, 1948 in Peoria, Illinois) is an American author most widely known for his Hugo Award-winning science fiction series, known as the Hyperion Cantos, and for his Locus-winning Ilium/Olympos cycle.
He spans genres such as science fiction, horror and fantasy, sometimes within the same novel: a typical example of Simmons' ability to intermingle genres is Song of Kali (1985), winner of World Fantasy Award. He is also a respected author of mysteries and thrillers, some of which feature the continuing character Joe Kurtz.
"As for the depiction of the Catholic church, it's not meant to be a prediction.""As long as my sixth graders showed an average improvement of five years, the principal and district pretty much left me alone to create my own curriculum and teach whatever I wanted.""But I think, and hope, that the novels can be understood and enjoyed as science fiction, on their own terms.""But it's not just a game of finding literary references.""I loved almost everything about being a teacher, but I was an unusual teacher.""It started 25 years ago, when I was teaching elementary school in a small town in Missouri.""It's odd how violence and humor so often go together, isn't it?""It's one of the strangest attributes of this profession that when we writers get exhausted writing one thing, we relax by writing another.""Movie SF is, by definition, dumbed down - there have only been three or four SF movies in the history of film that aspire to the complexity of literary SF.""No one inspired me to write, but writer Harlan Ellison terrified me into getting published.""The truth is, it's not a great career move to create a readership and then, in effect, abandon them.""There's a unique bond of trust between readers and authors that I don't believe exists in any other art form; as a reader, I trust a novelist to give me his or her best effort, however flawed.""Writing, I'm convinced, should be a subversive activity - frowned on by the authorities - and not one cooed over and praised beyond common sense by some teacher."
Simmons received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, and, in 1971, a Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He subsequently worked in elementary education until 1989.
He soon started to write short stories, although his career did not take off until 1982, when, through Harlan Ellison's help, his short story "The River Styx Runs Upstream" was published and awarded first prize in a Twilight Zone Magazine story competition. His first novel, Song of Kali, was released in 1985.
Summer of Night (1991) recounts the childhood of a group of pre-teens who band together in the 1960s to defeat a centuries-old evil that terrorizes their hometown of Elm Haven, Illinois. The novel, which was praised by Stephen King, is similar to King's It in its focus on small town life, the corruption of innocence, the return of an ancient evil, and the responsibility for others that emerges with the transition from youth to adulthood.
In the sequel to Summer of Night, A Winter Haunting, Dale Stewart (one of the first book's protagonists, and now an adult), revisits his boyhood home to come to grips with mysteries that have disrupted his adult life. Children of the Night, another loose sequel, features a much older Mike O'Rourke, now a Roman Catholic priest, who is sent on a mission to investigate bizarre events in a European city. Another Summer of Night character, Dale's younger brother, Lawrence Stewart, appears as a minor character in Simmons' thriller Darwin's Blade, while the adult Cordie Cooke appears in Fires of Eden.
Soon after Summer of Night, Simmons, who had written mostly horror fiction, began to focus on writing science fiction, although in 2007 he returned with a work of historical fiction and horror, The Terror. In 2009 he also wrote a book, Drood, based on Charles Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Simmons became famous in 1989 for Hyperion, winner of Hugo and Locus Awards for the best science fiction novel. This novel deals with a space war, and is inspired in its structure by Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
Many of his works have similarly strong ties with classic literature:
Carrion Comfort derives its title and many of its themes from Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem
"Vanni Fucci Is Alive and Well and Living In Hell", a 1988 short story lampooning televangelists included in Prayers to Broken Stones, is about a brief return to earth by the title character, an inhabitant of Dante's Inferno
The Hyperion Cantos take their titles from poems by the English Romantic, John Keats.
The basic structure of Hyperion is taken from the Middle-English cycle of stories The Canterbury Tales. A varied group of individuals are on a pilgrimage to solicit a kind of demon-god called "the Shrike" on the planet "Hyperion" in a universe on the edge of the apocalypse. Each pilgrim tells his or her tale of why they are going to see the Shrike. The Fall of Hyperion is the conclusion to the story of the pilgrims rather than a stand-alone sequel. Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are essentially one work in two volumes.
The Hollow Man (1992) is influenced by Dante's Inferno and T. S. Eliot
A short story from 1993, "The Great Lover", is inspired by the World War I War Poets.
In The Fall of Hyperion, John Keats appears as one of the main characters.
His Ilium/Olympos cycle is inspired by Homer's works. Both Shakespeare and Proust are mentioned as well.
The character of Ada and her home Ardis Hall in the Ilium cycle are inspired by Vladimir Nabokov's novel Ada or Ardor, which was Nabokov's foray into the science fiction genre and alternate history.
Early in 2001, Simmons began writing a series of hard-boiled crime-fiction novels featuring Joe Kurtz as a lead character. The first, Hardcase, was followed by Hard Freeze and Hard as Nails in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
In January 2004, it was announced that the screenplay he wrote for his novels Ilium and Olympos would be made into a film by Digital Domain and Barnet Bain Films, with Simmons acting as executive producer. Ilium is described as an "epic tale that spans 5,000 years and sweeps across the entire solar system, including themes and characters from Homer's Iliad and Shakespeare's The Tempest." In July 2004, Ilium received a Locus Award for best science fiction novel of 2003.
Scott Derrickson is set to direct "Hyperion Cantos" for Warner Bros. and GK Films. Trevor Sands is penning the script which will blend the first two cantos "Hyperion" and "The Fall of Hyperion" into one film.
His novel Drood is set to be adapted into a movie by Guillermo del Toro for Universal Pictures.
Best Short story (1993): "This Year's Class Picture"
British Fantasy Society Award
Best Novel (1990): Carrion Comfort
British Science Fiction Award
Best Novel (1991): The Fall of Hyperion
Best Novel (1990): Hyperion
International Horror Guild Award
Best Novel (2003): A Winter Haunting
Best Horror Novel (1990): Carrion Comfort
Best Science Fiction Novel (1990): Hyperion
Best Novelette (1991): "Entropy's Bed at Midnight"
Best Science Fiction Novel (1991): The Fall of Hyperion
Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel (1992): Summer of Night
Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel (1993): Children of the Night
Best Novelette (1994): "Dying in Bangkok"
Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel (1995): Fires of Eden
Best Science Fiction Novel (1998): The Rise of Endymion
Best Novella (2000): "Orphans of the Helix"
Best Science Fiction Novel (2004): Ilium
Science Fiction Chronicle Reader Awards
Best Foreign Novel (1995): Hyperion
Best Novel (1996): The Fall of Hyperion (tied with Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter)
Best Foreign Short Story (1999): "This Year's Class Picture"
World Fantasy Award
Best Novel (1986): Song of Kali
Best Short story (1993): "This Year's Class Picture"
Dan Simmons has been nominated on numerous occasions in a range of categories for his fiction, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Bram Stoker Award, British Fantasy Society Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and World Fantasy Award.