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The Terror by Dan Simmons
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The Terror (2007)

by Dan Simmons

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,1991462,480 (4)304
  1. 40
    On the Proper Use of Stars by Dominique Fortier (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Both are fictionalized retellings of the Franklin Expedition. The Terror contains supernatural elements whereas On the Proper Use of Stars aims to be more of a nonfiction novel.
  2. 40
    Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by Owen Beattie (VivienneR)
  3. 40
    Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (Jannes)
    Jannes: More Arctic horror. Simmons might is a bit more viceral, but the heart of the horror - the cold, darkness and isolation of the arctic north - is the same in both novels.
  4. 30
    The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and The North Pole, 1818-1909 by Pierre Berton (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A compelling non-fiction work detailing historical facts around the quest for the Northwest Passage, including the Franklin expedition. You'll find it listed among Dan Simmons' sources at the back of his novel.
  5. 20
    The Martian by Andy Weir (TomWaitsTables)
  6. 20
    Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol (caimanjosh)
    caimanjosh: The Terror is rather less literary-aspiring and far longer, but the same elements of horror in the desolate Arctic/Antarctic, combined with some meditation on the nature of man, is present.
  7. 10
    Tales of Unease by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Doyle's short story "The Captain of the Polestar" also features an artic expedition with elements of the supernatural.
  8. 10
    The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For death and the cold and the nameless, stalking monster.
  9. 00
    Last Call by Tim Powers (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For an alternate interpretation of historic events.
  10. 12
    The Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon (Scottneumann)
  11. 12
    Mister Slaughter by Robert R. McCammon (Scottneumann)
  12. 13
    Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon (Scottneumann)
  13. 02
    Drop City by T. C. Boyle (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For characters failing to adapt to their environment.
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» See also 304 mentions

English (139)  French (3)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
I want to give this book 2.5 stars. I actually liked it, so I'll give it three, rather than two. I listened to the 22 hour audio book and the narrator was amazing.

This book is so long. It makes the long dredge of Frodo and Gollum seem like a summer stroll. It's also strange. Jumping between the soul crushing slog of being frozen in the ice, long and detailed flashbacks, super natural monster fights and graphic sex scenes. It's Dan Simmons though. All of his books feel like they're written by a super intelligent high school boy.

This is my first book with some detail on the themes Arctic exploration and the British navy. I enjoyed a lot of that. I really liked the Inuit mythology and how they survived on the ice. I loved Dr Goodsir and Crozier.

I think I'm glad I read it. ( )
  Mattmcmanus | Aug 23, 2018 |
REVIEWED: The Terror
WRITTEN BY: Dan Simmons
PUBLISHED: 2009

Up until the ending, this book was flawless. Not to take anything away from the ending – it was okay – but just not as powerful as the rest of this book. And when I say powerful, I mean my-heart-was-racing-and-I-could-not–put-this-down sensational. This is really just one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years, which is no small amount.

The Terror is written from multiple points of view from the perspective of a crew of 126 sailors aboard two ships that are seeking the Northwest Passage in 1845. The ships become crushed by ice in an abnormally frigid ocean that keeps them prisoner for several years. Not only must the men fight the Arctic elements and starvation to remain alive, but an evil creature begins to attack the trapped vessels, picking off the sailors one-by-one.

Imagine the movie ALIENS or John Carpenter’s THE THING if set aboard sinking ships in the mid-nineteenth century. Then add in cannibalism, rats, years-long misery, murder, mutiny, lots of rum, mysterious Eskimos, rich mythology, and a demonic creature that can apparently move through the ocean ice. Yes, my fingernails were gnawed to the quick.

Dan Simmons has an amazing voice in his writing, able to transport the reader into the established rules and rigid beliefs of Victorian-era sailors. Not only that, but the author makes you feel the “cold” of the ice, the “hunger” of slowly starving to death, and the “fear” of being hunted by a creature that is only glimpsed.

As I mentioned, the ending was my only issue. Not that it was bad, just… a “change” in the writing perspective which made sense to the story arc but still left me somewhat deflated.

Warning for all: This book is tragic and depressing. It is an amazing story of exploration and survival, but readers who don’t like it regularly complain of its despondency. This is true – it is 765 pages of gut-wrenching despair although, also, told in such beautiful prose that it still covers the whole gambit of other human emotions.

Six out of Five stars (see what I did there?)


Midnight cheers,

Eric ( )
1 vote Eric_J._Guignard | Jul 26, 2018 |
Re read after seeing the wonderfully dark TV show. I can’t forget the sound of the ship sailing through ever more ice. Oddly it was comforting to read the book’s happier ending, even if I had been there before and was thoroughly spoiled as to the ending. First rate stuff. Ideal reading for very hot days.
  KaterinaBead | Jun 5, 2018 |
The crews of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror are trapped in the Arctic ice for three years without a thaw. Something is out there in the frigid darkness, stalking their ships, snatching one seaman at a time, leaving bodies horribly mutilated. A fictional take on John Franklin's 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. ( )
  jrthebutler | May 28, 2018 |
Interesting but disappointing. The story of a vanished polar expedition and the semi-supernatural terror that persecuted it.

I still think it's an interesting concept and the story had potential, but the execution was lacking. For one, although I have nothing against long books in theory, this one actually felt like it could have been shaved down. I kept mentally editing portions of it, especially some of the flashbacks to England or around the south polar expedition with Sophia. By that, I mean I was thinking things like: it'd be much more effective if you cut most of this scene and just keep this small part for the emotional impact with a few details for weight...etc. You may disagree with how much this needed to be done, but I feel the narrative could have been tightened up a lot.

The jumping around in time at the beginning managed to cut more tension than it managed to build. I'm not saying the story should have been told in chronological order, but I was left with the impression that if you took a bunch of sticky notes and laid them out, a better order could have been found in which to present them (while shaving down sequences). I didn't care enough to attempt this, however. Btw, I never felt that the descriptions of the cold should have been cut. Those were all relevant.

Maybe this is a personal failing, but I had a hard time working out where things were happening on the map provided. And a list of the dramatis personae would have been helpful. And Simmons just had to work in the rosy-fingered dawn reference. Was anyone else tempted to call him an erudite bastard at a few points?

Oh, and one final complaint: the use of the journal entries was fine (although I was skeptical of the logic of some of the capitalization), but the reproduction of whole scenes of dialogue just did not work well in the journal format.

I'll end on one thing that did work well: the structure of the prose in some of the drunk or dream/sleep-deprivation sequences. It managed to convey that dreamy state. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
An immobilized ship can be a potent metaphor for certain states of existential unease, as it is in Conrad’s novella “The Shadow-Line” (114 pages in the Everyman’s Library edition) or Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (625 lines). And the polar regions, frigid as death itself, have always provided an exceptionally hospitable environment for horror: Mary Shelley (“Frankenstein”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”), H. P. Lovecraft (“At the Mountains of Madness”) and John W. Campbell (“Who Goes There?”) have all dreamed dire happenings at one pole or the other, at much more modest length. (“The Terror” is dedicated, with “many thanks for the indelible Arctic memories,” to 12 members of the cast and crew of the classic 1951 movie based on Campbell’s story: “The Thing From Another World.”) But of the many possible approaches to making artistic sense of the Franklin fiasco, just about the least promising, I’d say, would be to turn it into an epic-length ripping yarn.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New York Times, Terrence Rafferty
 
Skilfully, horribly, Simmons details the months of darkness – the temperatures of -50F and lower; the shrieking groans of the ice; the wind; the hunger – from the multiple perspectives of the men on board the ship, and with such detail that I defy readers not to grab another jumper. He adds in another, more deliberate evil: a stalking, polar bear-like monster which tracks over the icy wastelands around the ships, picking the men off one by one. "To go out on the frozen sea in the dark now with that … thing … waiting in the jumble of pressure ridges and tall sastrugi was certain death," he writes. "Messages were passed between the ships now only during those dwindling minutes of half-light around noon. In a few days, there would be no real day at all, only arctic night. Roundtheclock night. One hundred days of night." What a horrifying thought.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Guardian, Alison Flood
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dan Simmonsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brèque, Jean-DanielTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herrera, AnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations, and coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white bear of the poles, and the white shark of the tropics; what but their smooth, flaky whiteness makes them the transcendent horrors they are? That ghastly whiteness it is which imparts such an abhorrent mildness, even more loathesome than terrific, to the dumb gloating of their aspect. So that not the fierce-fanged tiger in his heraldic coat can so stagger courage as the white-shrouded bear or shark.

-Herman Melville "Moby Dick" (1851)
Dedication
This book is dedicated, with love and many thanks for the indelible Arctic memories, to Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, William Self, George Fenneman, Dmitri Tiomkin, Charles Lederer, Christian Nyby, Howard Hawkes, and James Arness.
First words
Lat. 70 degrees -05' N., Long. 98 degrees -23' W.
October, 1847
Chapter 1. Crozier: Captain Crozier comes up on deck to find his ship under attack by celestial ghosts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels in Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival - or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror of the ice stalks them southward, Crozier as his men begin to fear that there is no escape.
Haiku summary
It might have been wise
to check in with the locals
before heading north.
(Myriadbooks)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316017442, Hardcover)

The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape. The Terror swells with the heart-stopping suspense and heroic adventure that have won Dan Simmons praise as "a writer who not only makes big promises but keeps them" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). With a haunting and constantly surprising story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in." "When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival - or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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