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Dan Simmons And The True Story of the HMS Terror

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Books | September 11, 2014 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Books | September 11, 2014 |

A few days ago, Canadian underwater survey teams found the wreckage of what is believed to be the HMS Terror, a British ship that disappeared mysteriously some hundred fifty or so years ago trying to find the fabled northwest passage. It appeared on Facebook in a few places, on our own Pajiba Love yesterday, and no one got my joke that these were clearly lie to cover up the fact that the ship was actually doomed because of running afoul of an Eskimo death god in the form of a supernaturally large and invincible polar bear.

This was unacceptable.

Dan Simmons is one of the most hit or miss science fiction authors out there. Some of his novels, like Fires of Eden featuring Mark Twain, volcano gods, and something to do with a resort trying to open, are painful and are a rip off even when you buy them for a quarter at a used bookstore because the binding is falling apart. Then he’s got books like the Hyperion cantos which are among the most visionary, gorgeous, and heartbreaking science fiction stories that anyone has ever put to the page.

He wrote a novel about that missing expedition, a dark fantasy sort of take on the missing expedition, that he just called The Terror. And yes, central to its plot is a supernaturally large invincible Eskimo death god polar bear. And it is phenomenal. I don’t mean in some tongue in cheek, so bad it’s good, sort of way. I mean that it is one of the most taut and terrifying books that I have ever read.

It transports you into the eternal darkness and endless winter, the infinite cold and slowly mounting helpless terror at being trapped in a world over which you have no control. Winter is coming? Ha! This book would make a Stark whimper like a royal Lannister bastard. And it will make you goddamned terrified of polar bears for the rest of your life.

Go read this book. Get the truth before the Canadians suppress it.

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.