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Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
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Song of Kali (1985)

by Dan Simmons

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Poor. Part of the Fantasy Masterworks series, but a compete mis-nomer, It's barely fantasy, and while it may have been a masterwork at the time it doesn't come anywhere close now. It comes across as racist, ignorant, and silly.

The story is set in Calcutta, where an american poet brings his family to try and find the author of some modern re-interpretations of Indian religious poetry - relating to the death god aspect of Kali. However he finds this disturbing. Listens to some incredulous tales with no evidence, has a mystical experience and flees back to the US none the wiser. Having suffered the loss of his only baby daughter. It isn't clear if the latter is related in any way, although the supposition is that it's supposed to be revenge by Kali on him not bringing her "song" to light.

Where there weren't ebook formatting issues, the prose was actually not bad, it's just the subject matter, plot and general ignorance that failed to entice. ( )
  reading_fox | Aug 15, 2014 |
Another genre-bender is Dan Simmons’ 1986 World Fantasy Award-winner, Song of Kali. Journalist Robert Luzcak is sent to Calcutta to investigate new poetry written by an Indian poet who has been presumed dead for the last eight years. After much investigation, he discovers that there is a secret religious society dedicated to Kali, the destroyer, the goddess of death. The poet, Das, was dead—but he’s been reanimated by the goddess in a secret ceremony. As he investigates further, things get stranger; his knowledge of Kali and her seductive song eventually cost him dearly. A dark tale, infused with a sense of impending doom from the first page on, this is Simmons’ first novel—and it will undoubtedly stick with the reader for a while after.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
  KelMunger | Aug 11, 2014 |
Dan Simmons has written a horror story that chills the reader to the very core. The protagonist has been invited to Calcutta to pick up a new manuscript of an established poet. The problem is that the poet's death had been reported some years ago, and the editors at Harper's magazine want journalist/poet Robert Luczak to go pick it up personally so that he can determine if the poet M. Das is indeed still living, or if the Writers Union in India is perpetrating a hoax.

Robert takes his wife, who knows several of the Indian languages. Having been born in India, he feels she can help him translate not only language but cultural differences. Their 7 month old baby daughter goes along as well.

Problems begin almost immediately. The plane is late; the person expected to meet them is not at the airport but another man is. He is socially awkward to say the least but convinces them he was sent to meet them. He does finally get them to the hotel but Bobby has an almost visceral dislike for the man and for the city of Calcutta. Once he gets to the hotel he relaxes a little and decides his anger is likely due to jet lag.

But every time he leaves the hotel, he meets with obstacles, changed plans, and the uncertainty of whether he will get back to the safety of the hotel or not. When he insists that he must meet M. Das personally, he is gradually introduced into a perverse cult of the Hindi goddess Kali. He begins to see her evil influence everywhere. Perhaps the evil is not just the religious cult but the culture of the city itself. His departure is delayed over and over. He tries to get his family out of town but the flights are so unreliable...will they ever be safe and secure again?

First published in 1985, this book has won the World Fantasy Award and is recognized as a classic in the horror genre. If you haven't read it, give it a try. ( )
  vcg610 | Aug 9, 2014 |
undecided about how I feel about this book. perfectly ambivalent. ( )
  lyrrael | May 18, 2014 |
Just dreadful. The ignorance and hatred that pervade this story truly make you feel soiled reading it. If I'm going to horror that's superheated by prejudiced fear of the dark, impoverished hordes, I'll stick with HP Lovecraft. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
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"For HARLAN ELLISON,

who has heard the song,

And for KAREN and JANE,

who are my other voices"
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Some places are too evil to be allowed to exist.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 031286583X, Paperback)

"O terrible wife of Siva / Your tongue is drinking the blood, / O dark Mother! O unclad Mother." It is remarkable that prior to writing this first novel, Dan Simmons had spent only two and a half days in Calcutta, a city "too wicked to be suffered," his narrator says. Fortunately back in print after several years during which it was hard to obtain, this rich, bizarre novel practically reeks with atmosphere. The story concerns an American poet who travels with his Indian wife and their baby to Calcutta to pick up an epic poem cycle about the goddess Kali. The Bengali poet who wrote the poem cycle has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Horror critic Edward Bryant calls Song of Kali "an exactingly constructed, brutal, and uncompromising study of the degree to which an evil place may permeate and steep all that makes us human" and writes that it embodies "the stance of a psychologically violent novel about a violent society as a defensible and indisputably moral work of art." Song of Kali won a World Fantasy Award. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Robert Luczak, sent to Calcutta to interview the mysterious poet, M. Das, who has been missing for ten years, discovers that the missing man is mixed up in the death-worshiping cult of of Kali

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