Yesterday, Deadline reported that one of my favourite books of recent years is being turned into a TV series by AMC. The Terror is the incredible tale of two ships which were lost in the late 1840s whilst searching for a once-impassable route through the Arctic: the legendary Northwest Passage.
In Dan Simmons' awesome novel, the crew become frozen into the ice for a period of years: The Terror is the story of their survival in these extreme conditions, with limited supplies, fraying tempers, and—here's where it gets particularly interesting—an impossible monster with an appetite for people.
I've always had a soft spot for survival narratives. Also the Arctic. And boy, I do like me my monsters! Indeed, reading The Terror ticked all these boxes before I even realised they existed. So the news that AMC mean to make a TV series out of Simmons' alt-historical story leaves me with... mixed feelings. I'm sure it could be good. Hell, it could be really, really good. On the other hand, the way AMC have "dealt" with The Walking Dead, despite its surprising success, is dismaying.
(Side note: io9's most constructive comment about the announcement was that The Terror isn't The Thing. Well said, sirs! Or... wait. No. I take it back.)
Anyway, though Simmons has had the odd hit since The Terror—Drood was pretty good—by and large he's fallen out of favour again, so I wanted to draw your attention to his next novel, which I only discovered today. It's called The Abominable, and it sounds enticingly like a return to the territory of The Terror:
In June 1924, famous British climber George Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine disappeared on the North East Ridge of Mount Everest. Most of the subsequent publicity did not mention that two other climbers were missing: the future Lord Wessex and an unnamed German support climber.
A year later, climber, poet and war hero Richard David Deacon sees a way he and his friends can reach the heights of Mount Everest. He tells Lady Wessex that they will look for her son if she bankrolls the operation. Now the danger Deacon and his group face is not only from the treacherous conditions; they are also warned of the mythical 'man bear' demons of the mountain - which they dismiss until they hear roars so loud they drown out the 100 mile-per-hour wind that is tearing their canvas tent to shreds around them...
Amazon, however, seem to be doing their very best to garble the facts about the book. They're saying The Abominable will be out this April in the UK, weighing in at 432 pages, yet a quick trawl of the forums Simmons himself visits suggests we should be expecting another behemoth, at approximately 800 pages—and in October rather than a mere six weeks from Sunday.
Let me make no bones about it: whenever it's released, and however long it is, I can't wait to read The Abominable.
But after the ghastly Flashback, is anyone else willing to give Dan Simmons another chance?