Thursday, October 4, 2007

Halfway Through Listening to: "The Terror" by Dan Simmons

Halfway Through Listening to: The Terror by Dan Simmons, 2007, downloaded from Overdrive.

Very good with excellent narration by John Lee. The book is 769 pages so the audio version ends up at 28 hours and 18 minutes and is taking a long time to finish.

Two ships of the British Exploratory Service, Erebus and Terror, are stuck in the Arctic ice in 1847. Both ships have been frozen into the ice for a year and a half and are running low on coal, food, and whiskey.

Both ships were ill chosen and ill prepared. Terror and Erebus are former British Navy bombardment ships with heavily reinforced hulls for ice-breaking. But, the expedition Commander, Sir John Franklin, outfitted the ships with inefficient coal burning engines and not enough coal. Half of the tinned food supplied by the low bidding food vendor is spoiled. Not to mention the white haired, twelve foot tall monster stalking the crew members.

Suddenly appearing and disappearing into the snow, the monster is crushing or clawing crew members at will and seems impervious to firearms. I'm halfway through the story and the monster has killed several officers and men, including the Commander, from both the ice and the ship's deck. Simmons is slowly revealing more and more information about the monster as more encounters end with more survivors having observed the thing.

Simmons does a great job of telling the story through the characters. There are some great characters, like main character Captain Crozier of Terror. There is a great flashback from the mind of drunken Crozier to his time in Tasmania. Crozier was laying over from an Antarctic expedition and infatuated with Sir Franklin's niece. After getting a handjob in a swimming pond from the upper class Englishwoman he subsequently proposed to the woman only to be crushed by her immediate dismissal of him as an unacceptable suitor.

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