Read Song of Kali by Dan Simmons Online

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Calcutta: a monstrous city of immense slums, disease and misery, is clasped in the foetid embrace of an ancient cult. At its decaying core is the Goddess Kali: the dark mother of pain, four-armed and eternal, her song the sound of death and destruction. Robert Luczak has been hired by Harper's to find a noted Indian poet who has reappeared, under strange circumstances, yeaCalcutta: a monstrous city of immense slums, disease and misery, is clasped in the foetid embrace of an ancient cult. At its decaying core is the Goddess Kali: the dark mother of pain, four-armed and eternal, her song the sound of death and destruction. Robert Luczak has been hired by Harper's to find a noted Indian poet who has reappeared, under strange circumstances, years after he was thought dead. But nothing is simple in Calcutta and Lucsak's routine assignment turns into a nightmare when he learns that the poet is rumoured to have been brought back to life in a bloody and grisly ceremony of human sacrifice....

Title : Song of Kali
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780575076594
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Song of Kali Reviews

  • Stephen
    2019-03-01 17:43

    Thus begins Dan Simmons’ visceral, violent travelogue through the dark, murderous underbelly of Calcutta. This was an excellent read, but you should know going in that this is NOT a warm, fuzzy, feel better about humanity story. In fact, you might want to have your favorite blankie or stuffed animal or a bottle of Scotch and some happy pills with you before you begin reading this to help hold back the glooms. Here’s the basic set up. PLOT SUMMARYM. Das, one of India’s greatest poets, mysteriously disappeared many years ago and was believed dead. Recently, however, new material purporting to be Das’ work has begun circulating in Calcutta. Robert Luczak, writer, columnist and our main character, is sent with his family to Calcutta by Harper’s Magazine to find and interview Das, verify the new work is authentic and bring back a copy for publication in the United States.Luczak’s search for M. Das leads him to an ancient, brutal cult of Kali worshippers who practice a whole host of depravities including human sacrifice of children. As Bobby delves deeper and deeper into the history and customs of the cult, he discovers a bizarre connection between the cult and the re-emergence of Das whose new verse is a celebration of the goddess of death.From there…you’re on your own. That’s the plot in a nutshell, but it doesn’t convey the feel of the novel and the dark, deeply disturbing atmosphere that Simmons manufactures with his sense-laden depictions of Calcutta. **Quick Aside: For the record, I’m not endorsing Simmons extremely negative portrayal of Calcutta (I’ve never been there) and my praise is for the effectiveness of Simmons' writing while ignoring any judgments on the accuracy thereof.From the moment Bobby arrives in India with his wife and baby girl, he is swallowed up into a grim netherworld of festering violence, callousness and a palpable sense of evil. Simmons prose makes you perceive Calcutta as a living presence. The stifling, sticky heat, the claustrophobic “pressing in” of the crowds and the filth and squalor of the living conditions. All of this comes right off the page and Simmons imbues it all with an overarching sense of tangible, directed malevolence. Can you tell that I think Simmons is a pretty special writer. As very good as this was, it is important to note that this was Dan Simmons first published work. Thus, fans of Simmons should know going in that Song of Kali does not reach the level of quality and polish of his later works, most notably the Hyperion Cantos. However, since only a handful of speculative fiction works have EVER reached the level of the Hyperion Cantos, I don’t think this is much of a criticism. This an accomplished tale a real horror and at just over 300 pages, is considerably shorter than his later works which generally approach the size of doorstops.I'm very glad to have finally scratched this off my “to read” list. But be warned, despite being a fast and relatively easy read, it has the potential to leave a chilling impression on you lasting far beyond the final page. It certainly had that effect on me. 4.0 stars. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Winner: World Fantasy Award for Best NovelNominee: Locus Award for Best Horror/Dark Fantasy Novel

  • Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
    2019-02-27 15:57

    Does for India what Heart Of Darkness did for Africa; uses it as a setting for a tale of unease and terror that could have been set anywhere, really, except that using a third-world setting plays to the western gallery's delicate sensibilities. This is a superbly structured and masterfully woven horror novel; it's also a fucking travesty of the real nature of Kali and her various manifestations. He's taken a unique female power-divinity, something with no parallel in any other living religion, and reduced her to a 'bitch goddess' of evil. And I wish that westerners would do a little homework. Nobody spells their name Jayaprakesh. Jayaprakash, sure. Jaiprakash, even. Not Jayaprakesh. Thanks very much kindly. For all the play Simmons makes of Indians mangling English he certainly doesn't hesitate to mangle Indian names. Oh, it also grated on me that all the chapters have an epigram taken from an Indian writer except the one chapter that lets in a note of hope and therefore has to return to the light of western civilization with a quote from W.B. Yeats. Despite all that, a 3-star rating; it really is a very good horror novel. But it does convince me more than ever that writers tread on uncertain ground when they venture outside their own cultural contexts.

  • Traveller
    2019-02-16 17:35

    Excellent. Dan Simmons is fast on his way to becoming one of my favorite authors.I felt horrified during a lot of the book, and saddened during a lot of it, but I like the way that it isn't totally and completely engulfed in despair. (Though pretty depressing enough.) I like the way that the protagonist decides to "fight back".It's not "scary" as in "boo" but it is horrific in it's stark depiction of the horror lurking in the human soul.The reason why I rated this so highly, is that it worked very well as a horror thriller for me.I think there was enough foreshadowing to give one an idea that something bad was going to happen, but you kept hoping that what you think might happen, wouldn't happen--it develops into one of those thriller-type scenarios, where you keep thinking 'Oh, watch out! be careful, don't do that!'..and yet, the author manages to be subtle enough for it not to be 'pat'.It also managed to grip this cynical reader deeply enough to feel both horrified and sad.That, for me is crucial, I guess - immersion, and this novel definitely did that for me, heck, I was gripping the edge of my seat all the way through. I also liked that the end was sort of sad and senseless; - just like real life sometimes is.I'll take away one star because of Simmon's rather unbalanced portrayal of Hindu culture, which is of course a rich and varied culture with many aspects to it, some of them wonderful and positive, as opposed to the negative aspects highlighted in this novel.Though this specific view might have been quite representative of a Westerner's impression of Calcutta at that point in time, I do feel that Mr Simmons could have added a few of the more positive aspects of Hindu culture to balance out the negative aspects that are represented especially by for instance the Kali cults that feature in this narrative.ETA- In retrospect, I do think that perhaps the whole point of the horrific aspects of the situation is that the protagonist originally romanticized his Westernized wife's Indian background, and was totally unprepared and unequipped for the realities of the situation he had to come to grips with in Calcutta. So, I suppose the whole point was for the protagonist to be naive and not to have a lot of street-smarts, so that at times, you actually felt like shaking him. He, like many Westerners, seems to have been expecting India to be all incense and smiling children with beautiful dark eyes and beautiful saris and delicious (though extremely hot!) food; without knowing about the darker aspects of that alluring land. (I admit that I had not known about some of them either! I've been to Bombay, but my visit there wouldn't have prepared me for anything like some of the things that the protagonist had encountered in this book.)Please note: Some of the comments below in the comments thread, may contain spoilers.

  • Edward Lorn
    2019-03-13 13:51

    Dan Simmons is known for his massive novels. This is not one of them. Why? Well, it's rare that you'll find a horror author who started out their career with a massive tome as their debut novel. Why? Because money, that's why. Straub had Julia, King had Carrie, McCammon had Baal, and Simmons had this one. What do they all have in common? They're all debuts that are around 300 pages long from authors known to write gargantuan books. Horror is a risky business. Publishers are frugal when it comes to taking a chance on my poor, beloved genre. No one wants to push out a 600-plus-page flop for a debut and lose their shirts over it. Longer novels are notoriously hard to market, and almost impossible to find reviews for. To succeed as a horror author in the literary community, you should have at least two novels under your belt before you reach into the realm of the Tome/Doorstop, and one of those two novels should have won some kind of award: a Stoker award is good; a World Fantasy award is best. Then, and only then, will Penguin Random House or HarperCollins allow you to publish that epic horror novel concerning shapeshifting, post-apocalyptic ferrets hellbent on creating a great, stinking plane known as Musk-World, wherein a band of quirky heroes must defeat High Lord Fear-It and bring a jasmine-and-vanilla-Glade-scented freshness back to their once proud land!Song of Kali can be mistaken for a xenophobic outing. I guess, anyway. If you actually read and digest the text, I believe you'll find the exact opposite. Because there are several places where Simmons ruminates on the ugliness of Calcutta. But there are just as many sections where Simmons riffs on the nasty underbelly of America, too. In one such section, two men are discussing how Calcutta isn't so much different from some cities in America: Flint, Michigan being one such place. A woman chimes in that there is a supernatural evil overtaking Calcutta; that, at its heart, the city is evil. The local laughs it off and explains that the atrocities found in Calcutta are no different from the atrocities found in America. How exactly is a book xenophobic when it shows both sides of a coin? Are we to say that Simmons is intolerant of India AND America? If so, what land does Simmons favorite? It is Simmons's unbiased approach to this story that I appreciate more than anything else. He could have taken the Indians-and-Arabs-are-all-evil! approach, but he did not. Instead, he showed that any place can be evil, no matter the social order, and that India's class system is no better or worse than America's own class-based system. It is blind faith in any god or religion that Simmons is attacking. The power of indoctrination. I have a hard time reading Stephen King's Pet Sematary because of Gage's fate. This book has a similar scene that is all the more soul-rending due to its brevity. The scene of which I speak could have been handled numerous ways, but the way in which Simmons handles it is nothing short of genius. Still, due to this scene, I'll likely not reread this book. When I got to this crushing chapter, I was sitting in a doctor's office, waiting to hear the bad news about my back (I ended up having my fifth back surgery a week after completing this novel), and upon reading this scene, muttered out loud, "Oh, fucking hell." The people in the waiting room didn't appreciate my outburst. I apologized, but I wasn't really sorry. Because I felt that "Oh, fucking hell" was the perfect descriptor for my feelings at that moment. The father in me couldn't handle the scene. "Oh, fucking hell" was my way of coping without crying in public.The scurrying-Kali-in-the-dark sequence is disturbing as hell, too. I'll not forget that one for years to come. I don't quite know how Simmons pulled off that scene. It's a true mystery, that level of atmospheric mastery. Such scenes authors spend entire careers hoping to accomplish, but Simmons did it in his debut. Bravo. Overall, I think Simmons knew what he was doing here. He created a pretentious poet of a main character, one who muses that Stephen King novels are "trashy", even though King and Simmons have a great respect for one another. They've even blurbed each other's novels on more than one occasion. To attach the MC's viewpoints and xenophobia to the author is to ignore the rules of fiction. This story is fiction, and a good author can inhabit anyone and see all sides of a story without subscribing to those beliefs. I mean, are we to believe that Simmons thinks it is possible to reanimate the dead for the purposes of writing a poem in the hope of pleasing a multi-armed goddess? No. Because he and we know it's fiction. If you can ignore the blatant racism of H.P. Lovecraft, a racism that runs rampant throughout both his life and his work, then you should be able to get through this novel without frying a circuit. Or maybe not. To each their own, I suppose.In summation: A brief excursion to a truly disturbing place. It's nice to see how Simmons has grown since his debut, and I feel I have a greater respect for his journey now that I've read where he started. Three stars because it's not something I would read again, but I do not regret reading it.Final Judgment: Divisive.

  • Brad
    2019-03-02 12:43

    Song of Kali isn't one of Dan Simmons' best works, but it is a fine example of what makes him one of my favourite writers: his range.Simmons loves history, mythology, authors, writing and reading, and his loves have led him to create one of the most varied bodies of work amongst active writers (although it appears he will soon be challenged for the crown by China Mieville). He's written about John Keats in space, Ernest Hemingway in the Gulf, the Greek Gods, Franklin's lost Arctic expedition, retold Dickens' unfinished novel, and in Song of Kali he tackles the bloody Hindu goddess of eternal energy, Kali, in a nasty, modern day Calcutta.It's an urban-fantasy horror novel with some genuinely freaky moments, made all the more freaky by their macabre banality. To become a member of the Kali cult, for instance, one need only bring a corpse to the first meeting. It's irrelevant how you get your corpse. You can kill it, dig it up, steal it, whatever works for you, but it makes for a frightening sequence, fraught with "what ifs?" and "holy shits!". And all of this is offered as a reflection of what humanity truly is, even when most of humanity is gleefully hiding its ugly nature behind a saccharine humanism.There's much of violence and its cost running throughout Simmons' work (another reason I love him), but it appears in myriad forms. And always from a different genre direction. Historical fiction, urban fantasy, hard sci-fi, horror, historical horror, whodunnit, poetry, mythos, and whatever else works.Simmons is an author among authors, and if you have never read him this is a good place to start. Song of Kali may not dazzle, but it will pique your interest and get you ready for his more daunting books (of which there are many).p.s. I don't care if you think I am crazy (or what he thinks, for that matter). I love him. So there. ;)

  • Brian
    2019-02-17 13:44

    * A 300-page diatribe against Calcutta, which city evidently offended Simmons at some point.* His hero, Bobby Luczak, is a coward who behaves stupidly and illogically; he's an effete literary type who one would think would treat his mathematician wife with some respect, but who repeatedly hides things from her and deserts her without reason. He claims to have a terrible temper, yet he's impotent in a crisis.* He has a child, a 7-month-old daughter, whose very existence serves only one unpleasant purpose. His wife's only purpose seems to be to show how stupid he is by contrast.* One character, the college kid who gets the plot rolling, tells Bobby a story about the worshippers of the evil goddess Kali. The story starts on Page 62 and ends on Page 111. Bobby doesn't applaud at the end of it, despite the fact that it's a bravura performance, complete with backstory, chapters, and narrative arc. Perhaps he withholds his approbation because he knows the story could have been drastically shortened, and even demonstrates this when he later condenses the boy's 3-hour monologue to 10 minutes in relating it to his wife.* Very little actually happens in this story, though it is filled from end to end with repeated descriptions of the rampant squalor of Calcutta. Bobby decides this is because the people are evil. Makes it easier, I suppose, for him to feel nothing for them. He dreams of it disappearing in nuclear fire. For him, it's a pleasant dream.* Simmons seems less interested here in plot than Lovecraftian dread. Lovecraft, however, didn't write 300-page novels. I think there's a reason for that.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-03-02 16:45

    Sometimes there is only pain. And acquiescence to pain. And, perhaps, defiance at the world which demands such pain." ― Dan Simmons, Song of KaliHorror is not my normal territory. It isn't my alternate either. As far as genre fiction goes I probably reach for a horror novel as often as I reach for a fantasy novel. But this is Dan Simmons we are talking about. After reading Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, I was intrigued. How poetic could Simmons make horror? How literate?I liked the 'Song of Kali'. It was a good story. I'm just not sure I'd count it as great horror. It wasn't that scary. It was definitely more psychological and mental than most. It seemed like a strange mixture of H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, all with a big glob of Calcutta madness and poetic mysticism.Anyway, I liked it. I'll keep reading Simmons when I want a vacation from the classics or an escape into literary genre fiction, but I don't think I will need to steel my nerves with any tonics or leave the lights on to go to sleep after I close the book at night. I might, however, rethink vacation plans to Kolkata and West Bengal. Screw THAT!

  • Tim Pendry
    2019-03-10 14:51

    What an exceptional book within the horror genre - a true masterpiece and extremely hard to put down.The problem with reviewing it is that it is hard to comment without 'spoiling'. To appreciate it you have to cast your mind back to the period when, and the places where, it was formed in the mind of Dan Simmons as a young American liberal and literary intellectual - in the India and the US of the late 1970s and the early 1980s, just as the former looked like an intractable social problem of never-ending poverty and consequent cruelty and the latter was still in or emerging (just) from a recession similar to the one that we are now entering.The book could not be written now. The South Asia of that period of hopelessness has been replaced by a vibrant, expansive India (though let us see what the recession brings) and the despair has shifted to a declining West. The book is filled with a vision of the teeming filthy hordes of Calcutta that would be regarded as insulting, almost racist today. In that sense, this book is oddly much closer to the imperial adventure tales of the thuggees of the Raj than it is to our 'modern' world only 25 years on.There is also an undercurrent of despair at the Holocaust and nuclear destruction that somehow has also become attenuated - Rwanda and Srebenica have not normalised the horrors of the 1940s but, as the survivors of older horrors die of natural causes, modern small genocides seem more managable to liberals - if only the UN could get its act together. Such massacres are no longer placed in that category of all-encompassing global existential evil that excites hopelessness - like Calcutta does to Simmons' narrator. Similarly, the war on terror is scary but the opponents are gangsters not the corporatised mass murdering bureaucrats of competing ideologies. Gangsters, despite Simmons' hero's experience, are very bad but not capable (or are they?) of destroying the world. Maybe that is the one doubt that nags at us tweenty five or so years on - that maybe gangsters, terrorists and insurgents can bring the Kali Yuga to pass.And this is the point of the book - it is not pure psychological horror nor is it the horror of monsters and demons but it is something different again, a novel of cultural horror of its own time and place with elements of both. I do not recall the phrase Kali Yuga being used but that is what it is about - a deeply conservative sense that the Age of Kali was upon us.And it is beautifully and clearly written with scarcely a wasted word - indeed, my heart sank in the first few pages because I thought I might be lumbered with that great American literary vice, the egoistic first person story that slows down the story with precise and self-indulgent description of place and sentiment. I was very wrong. The prose is, well, perfect.Simmons takes the standard literary model and subverts it into a narrative that works precisely because we can see a highly cultured but often weak and often dim 'one-of-us' be out-manouevred and out-classed by a cunning underclass of consummate brutality. It is a novel about crime and criminality as much as it a novel of horror - and the horror is visceral because it is real, the filth, the mortuary, the decay of the human body, the disease, the fear of the dark, of monsters ... and the last chapters will shred you if you know anything of love. There is even a skilled irony as the 'hero' notes the difference between his position and would happen in a movie about his position.This is a masterpiece that might be read as a companion piece to Ligotti - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24... - and King's The Stand - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14... . It does offer some small hope in a way that Ligotti does not (I cannot say more without spoiling the tale) and it is much better than The Stand (written around the same period as Simmons' book), if only because it is more 'real', but all three are explorations of the dark side of the condition of humanity from a uniquely American perspective. The sense of decay and of impending evil that was felt by some in the age of Jimmy Carter may be coming around again but these books may also be read to show that such fears are both reasonable but also exaggerated and that, unless one's philosophical back is broken like Ligotti's, the dark may, again, be replaced by the light. Perhaps we are not, in fact in the Kali Yuga but only in a simulacrum of it that will pass in its due time.

  • Michael
    2019-02-18 17:41

    This is a more literate genre novel than most. The story was gripping and propulsive even when I had a hard time suspending disbelief. But the images of Calcutta seemed somewhat stylized--Dickensian squalor without the redeeming Dickensian prose--and the characters didn't exactly wow me with their depth. Then again, this is a genre novel, so maybe my expectations were a little off? Maybe. Still, in the end I liked it well enough.

  • Shelly
    2019-03-01 16:32

    I am a huge Dan Simmons fan and the Hyperion series is probably my all time favorite series. This is Dan's first novel and while much different than his science fiction is still awesome. But OMG is it dark and disturbing and filled with descriptions of squalor and violence and some very unpleasant people. This one will stay will you after you are done reading it.

  • J.K. Grice
    2019-02-24 13:31

    I read SONG OF KALI 15 years ago and it remains one of the most well written, frightening books that I've ever read. Still one of my all time favorite reads, in any genre.

  • Kathryn
    2019-03-03 17:53

    I feel slightly detached from this book and I'm guessing this is not the type of reaction which the author had hoped for. I am happy to have stepped into one of Simmons fantasy-horror novels since I have only read his Hyperion series, which I should probably read again as my memory on that series is at times fuzzy. I loved the first half of Song of Kali but once the story picked up, a little over half through, I felt less connected and consequently less interested. After wondering for the better part of a day why I felt like this, I decided that maybe there was not as much charatcer inner monlogue as I tend to prefer, that there was an overabundance of observation and relaying of the scene rather than a natural unfolding of events. Not to say that this was a bad read. Simmons descriptions of Calcutta were believable and startling and all too easy to picture considering their nature. It's almost as though Simmons wrote about the city so well that the rest of the story paled in comparision. So maybe I am being unfair, judging one part of the book against the other and penalizing Simmons when not warranted. The characters were unique. The setting was chilling and intimidating. There were many scenes which I am up for picking apart but will not do so in a review without spoilers so I'll save that for group discussion. But I will be looking into more of Simmons horror novels.And as a warning, there were some deeply disturbing scenes, particularly towards the end. Just remember, this is a horror novel, with the horror of more than one incarnation or origin repesented.

  • Arun Divakar
    2019-02-20 19:48

    Kolkata is a city of contradictions. One side of the road would show magnificent high rises while the other has shanties and hastily put together human habitations. You travel through roads where garbage is piled high and refuse floats through large bodies of water. Turn a bend in the road and you see a tree lined pavement, well cared for houses and apartments and the road will lead you to some of the swankiest shopping malls in town. There is a mix of the old and the new, the beautiful and the repulsive & the eye catching and the forgettable. Kolkata in short thus is a replica of any other large city in the world. Dan Simmons though paints a grim portrait of this town and calls it in so many words a nest of many evils.Kali is in Hindu Mythology a manifestation of uncontrolled feminine power. She is rage,lust,power,battle fury, primeval intellect, bestial instincts,benediction, omnipotence and a lot many other traits rolled into one. The cults that follow her are said to be violent in nature to appease this dark side of the divine female. Simmons capitalizes on this and takes imagination to a higher level when he calls Kali an undoubtedly evil entity with a ruthless cult behind her.Song of Kaliis one of the best horror novels I have come across with the focus kept solely on one of India's dark myths. Contrary to my usual taste, there is quite a scattering of the visceral throughout the events which serves mostly to heighten the ambiance.I agree with many of the reviewers here, the characters and the story makes us feel that Kolkata is solely and completely evil. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Also, the moment the characters walk back into America all sense of horror dissipates like those bogey men before a shaft of strong light. But I must say that even after close to 35 years of the novel's setting, there still are places that retain the same shades in this enigmatic city.This book goes to my favorites list for the simple fact that after a long while, I was completely drawn into the ambiance of a tales setting.Couple of funny things though : 1. According to the Indian dialect you do not call a person Jayaprakesh. You call him Jayaprakash or Jayaprakas but not Jayaprakesh !2. A hymn with 108 stanzas is not called amantrifor this word is not the plural form ofmantra . Which means it is still calledGayatri Mantraand notGayatri Mantri .

  • Jean-marcel
    2019-02-28 16:48

    A strange thing happened while I was reading this book. All through the first half or thereabouts, I gritted my teeth and cursed. I didn't think I would enjoy the rest of the journey. Had I given up partway through, I would have come to goodreads years later (I read this book in 2007 or so) and probably given it two stars.Then, something happened. I realised, or at least I think I did, what Simmons was trying to do, and I understood that the reason I was having a hard time with this book was that I had a developing, intense dislike for the narrator/protagonist, Robert Luczak. I have been examining other reviews on this site, and it doesn't seem that anyone else had this issue, but from almost the first page, I simply felt a lot of scorn for this man, so clearly far out of his depth, yet so obviously full of a self-satisfied complacency and full-bellied relief that he was living in a nice, safe country where he could raise a stable, middle-class family and strive toward being some kind of intellectual paragon whilst writing for his little magazines. He even took a step toward embracing liberal multiculturalism by marrying an Indian woman, though one born into privilege and far removed from the cesspits of Calcutta. "Well, good for you, Mister Luczak, you pretentious prick," I thought to myself, with my worst and most cynical sneer. Then, Simmons, through the voice of Luczak, made some offhand, disparaging comment about science fiction, and science fiction writers, and I chuckled. I suddenly got it. Simmons, a science fiction writer, among other things, wasn't just trying to say something about India and its culture. This is as much a commentary about western foolhardiness and ineffectual dabbling as anything else. At one point Luczak sees a low-caste cleaning girl accidentally electrocuted while doing her job, and, while justifiably horrified, all he can do is complain to his hosts. There's this attitude, completely unconscious and unintended on Luczak's part, that despite the fact that he's apparently doing serious work and is intellectually capable of learning and growing, he can't help but be grumpy about a lot of dirt spoiling his holiday. While I wouldn't say Luczak distorts the truth enough to be considered an "unreliable narrator", he is part of a longstanding horror tradition: one who is too busy looking at the trees to see the forest around him.Ultimately, I let the tension of my contempt go, because I realised that Luczak was not a stand-in for Simmons himself, but rather a well-intentioned but ignorant man who just gets himself deeper into the muck without even realising what's going on. In fact, the buildup to the book's harrowing climax is really quiet and subtle, so that one just sort of reads along and, like Luczak, doesn't quite realise how dire things have become until the very last moment. Then, there's no turning back. The ending...oh, the ending: an ascension of madness and the most nerve-wracking tension followed by one of the most downbeat and depressing conclusions I can remember reading. While Luczak is not exactly redeemed, I felt so sorry for wishing him ill by the last pages. The man goes through so much so suddenly, and deserves so little of it, even though he may be a blunderer. Initially I gave this book three stars, but as the final quarter or so has stuck with me for so long, and has left some kind of permanent scar on my mind, I found I had to increase the rating. There's a good amount of ambiguity here, too. Did supernatural events take place? Luczak doesn't believe in such things, but his drug-addled brain is by the end ill-equipped to explain anything. We, the readers, can infer what we like. I like how the novel doesn't spoon-feed us; though Luczak in his nice high-rise tower loftiness would certainly have tried, the last pages show that this tower is truly shattered, even though Calcutta is far behind him, and he can't even make the effort anymore. This is powerful stuff, all the moreso because it is ultimately told in a voice that I found rather unsympathetic through large portions of the narrative.

  • Chloe
    2019-03-11 16:59

    Dan Simmons is one of the most skilled writers of science fiction currently putting pen to page (or however that metaphor would work in a post-paper age). His Hyperion series is a well-regarded classic that takes Chaucer's Canterbury Tales into the space-faring age and his Ilium and Olympos still stands as the most interesting rendition of a post-singular society-slash-retelling of Homer's epic-slash-paen to Shakespeare that I've ever read.It was with great excitement that I picked up Simmons' 1985 foray into horror, Song of Kali. I mention the year it was published because it's worth noting that this book is ultimately a product of the age in which it was written, but more on that later. On face this book has everything possible that could make my heart go pitter-pat: a reliable author who had never let me down, the story is set in India, features a resurrected poet (mmmm... zombie poetry), a good dose of gothic dread, a secret death cult, and (have I mentioned?) it's set in India. Surefire draw, right there.So why didn't I like this book more? It had everything I like in a good read, but just didn't work for me. Primarily, I think it was a problem with the narrator. He's supposed to be a renowned critic of Indian poetry, with an Indian wife and in-laws, yet he is a) completely ignorant of the customs, culture, language, and history of the country which he is supposed to be enthralled with, b) when actually in said country he is simply mortified at how alien and inscrutable the actions of its inhabitants are, and (most damningly for me) c) he seems to have no liking (or even respect) for his wife, Amrita. A woman who did not want to come to Calcutta with him but who he begged to tag along and, once landed, then spends the next 250ish pages trying to force to leave Calcutta. She's supposed to be his interpreter, yet is constantly left behind at the hotel. She gets one decent scene where she gets to reflect upon her status as an alien in both the US and in her ancestral homeland, caught between worlds, as such, but that's it. By the time I finished the book I just kept hoping that she would leave the creep. I should have loved this book, but I didn't. I didn't quite hate it, but it's not likely to be one that stays with me for long after finishing. It just seems like a trite rehash of things that have come before. When Robert, the American critic, stumbles upon a secret cult of Kali it smacks of the ridiculous scene from Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom where the guy's beating heart is ripped from his chest. It's just all so xenophobic that it grates on my nerves. I've still got a lot of respect for Simmons and what he has done with his sci-fi writings, but think I'm going to avoid his older works for a time.

  • Gary
    2019-02-26 20:55

    Thoroughly researchedI generally like Simmons but I went into this book with some trepidation due to the tepid response I read in the reviews. Overall I liked the book, but I brought an interest in India and the theological ideas that have emerged from there to the table.I stopped occasionally and researched groups or concepts as I read and I found this interesting as well. The book has been called xenophobic. I agree and then again I disagree. It definitely has an anti-attitude towards this particular form of Kali worship, but considering the first person perspective from which the story is told and the horror the narrator is faced with I can only ask "what would one expect?".I think the author raises some valid points and the tensions mounts nicely in the setting of Calcutta where all of this does indeed seem possible, or maybe even likely.

  • Joshua Shioshita
    2019-03-13 20:37

    I had heard of Dan Simmons but this was my first foray into his actual work. I can't believe I hadn't read this already. Exotic locales - check. Creepy cults - check. Ritual sacrifice - check. Ancient supernatural entities - check. And that reveal in the airport at the end disturbed my imagination for days. It also made me want to watch Temple of Doom over and over again, which is definitely not a bad thing.

  • Marvin
    2019-03-07 14:59

    This is one of the most auspicious debuts of any author. Simmons' style was pretty much developed from this first novel published in 1985. He continues to be the best horror writer alive when he wants to write horror. However the really horrific thing about Song of Kali is Simmons' devastating descriptions of Calcutta. Go into this novel with little or no information about it in order to get its best impact.

  • Sudipta Saha
    2019-03-05 14:58

    Although Dan Simmons talks about many ancient practices of Hinduism that were rendered illegal by the insurgence of British humanitarian laws, the scope of this novel and its main focus go way beyond that. From the perspective of the Indian folklore and myths, he puts forth how the “age of Kali” (which is metaphorically synonymous to “the era of destruction”) has begun. Though the book is dark and disturbing at certain parts and the opinion of the protagonist, Luczak, is offensive towards the Hindu religion and Indian culture as a whole, the book was a good read. The main reason for this is the respect that the writer shows towards the Hindu beliefs by incorporating parts of the folklore into his storyline – the main twist was left unrevealed which may intrigue the readers enough to think about the possibility of supernatural interventions.Being a follower of Hinduism and having a locally termed “jagrata” temple of Kali attached to the front of our village house, I must admit that I could relate to the environment that Dan Simmons created and the horror that it might present. I highly recommend the book to those of you who love myths in general and are interested in legends from different cultures and religions.

  • Maicie
    2019-03-16 18:51

    Well, this is embarrassing. I finished the book this morning and am feeling clueless. I’m not sure I ‘got’ it. Husband: Well, did you like it or not?Me: I really liked it.Husband: Why did you like it?Me: I’m not sure. Husband: What was it about?Me: Ummm, evil. And India. Crime…I think. Cultural differences. But also likenesses. It’s a horror story but, well, not really. Husband (with a tone): Well, I certainly can’t wait to read it. Funny thing is, I recommend this…highly.

  • 11811 (Eleven)
    2019-02-18 17:36

    Fucking Simmons. Always hit and miss for me.

  • Paradoxe
    2019-03-15 18:41

    Ξεκινάω με τους λόγους για τους οποίους δε θα έβαζα κανένα αστέρι σε αυτό το βιβλίο, ύστερα όμως θα ακολουθήσουν και οι λόγοι για τους οποίους θεωρώ πως του αξίζουν τα δύο αστέρια που του δίνω.Με ενόχλησε πολύ που αποκάλεσε την Καλκούτα μίασμα. Όποια ιστορία κι αν θες να υποστηρίξεις, ή να διηγηθείς, στην εισαγωγή και όχι κατά τη διάρκεια μιας φορτισμένης σκηνής κι ενώ υπάρχει ήδη η εξοικείωση με τους χαρακτήρες. Δείχνει απροσμέτρητη υπεροψία. Στην Καλκούτα, στο Άργος, στη Μαδρίτη ζουν άνθρωποι ίσοι με οποιονδήποτε άλλο κι αυτό είναι αρκετό. Επίσης είναι φανερές οι επιρροές των κλασικών στο συγγραφέα. Οι κλασικοί όταν ήθελαν να στοχεύσουν με τα βέλη τους συχνό τέχνασμα ήταν η δημιουργία μιας αχυροπόλης ίδιας και παράλληλα διαφορετικής απ’ αυτή για την οποία θέλανε να μιλήσουνε.Με ενόχλησε εξ’ ίσου, παρακάτω η επίθεση που συνεχίζει στην Καλκούτα. Κι εγώ μπορώ να σκεφτώ 50 λόγους που δε μου αρέσει η Λιλ και να χρησιμοποιήσω 200 τσιτάτα άλλων αφαιρώντας παραβατικά κι εγωιστικά κάθε καλό στοιχείο. Είναι τίμιο αυτό; Ακόμα και σα βοήθημα για τη συντήρηση στενόχωρου σκοτεινού κλίματος, εγώ δεν το συγχωρώ.Ούτε με τη διακωμώδηση της κουλτούρας ενός άλλου λαού συμφωνώ, γιατί ο Ινδουισμός εκτός από θρησκεία, είναι και κουλτούρα.Τέλος, οι άνθρωποι και οι λαοί δεν υποφέρουν για να διασκεδάζουν τους τουρίστες κι αυτό δίνει το δικαίωμα στις αντιδράσεις τους να μην είναι στυλιζαρισμένες ούτε κομψές. Και μάλιστα ο τρόπος με τον οποίο δηλώνουν την οδύνη, ή την απόγνωση τους υποδηλώνει ως ένα βαθμό την εθνική τους ταυτότητα, καθώς και τις διάφορες ζυμώσεις της κοινωνίας τους. Επιπλέον, η επαιτεία όταν εκφράζει την απόγνωση μέσω της βιαιότητας και της ατσαλοσύνης είναι πολύ τιμιότερη και δικαιολογημένη απ’ τη νοοτροπία αρπακτικού, χαρακτηριστική άλλωστε της επεκτατικής πολιτικής ορισμένων χωρών που γεννά και την υπεροψία σε μέρη του λαού της, ακόμη κι αν αυτή κρύβεται κάτω απ’ το πέπλο του οίκτου.Ένα ακόμη λάθος που διακρίνω είναι να χαρακτηρίζεται όταν τρομάζει κάποιος για αδιόρατους λόγους, ως φόβος, αυτό δεν είναι φόβος, ο φόβος έχει πάντοτε φανερά αιτιατά και κάπου κάπου είναι εμφανή και τα αίτια, η μη εύρεση των λόγων συνάδει μόνο με τον πανικό. ΄΄Εξακολουθώ να πιστεύω ότι ορισμένοι τόποι είναι τόσο άθλιοι που ξεπερνούν τα όρια της αντοχής. Μερικές φορές ονειρεύομαι πυρηνικά μανιτάρια πάνω από μια πόλη κι ανθρώπινες σιλουέτες να χορεύουν σε μια κόλαση φωτιάς που κάποτε ονομαζόταν Καλκούτα΄΄… Γιατί τέτοιος οχετός; Ποιος σας έδωσε το δικαίωμα;Παρόλ’ αυτά το κεφάλαιο 9 με τον τρόπο του είναι ενδιαφέρον και αναφέρομαι στο διάλογο Τσάτερζι – Αμρίτα, σου περνάει την αίσθηση της υποβόσκουσας βίας λόγω ξενοφοβίας, αυτό το επικίνδυνο στα μάτια που λέμε, ή την εντύπωση πως ο τόπος είναι αφιλόξενος, ή απλά δε σε θέλουν εκεί. Καθόλου απτές εικόνες, ωστόσο υπαρκτές.Εντούτοις, με ταξίδεψε στην Καλκούτα, στις κάστες. Τα κεφάλαια που αφορούν το κρεματόριο είναι υποβλητικά και δε χωρούν λόγια. Θυμήθηκα τη σκηνή από την ταινία για τη ζωή του Μότσαρτ που πεθαίνει και τον ρίχνουν σ’ ένα κοινό τάφο, χέρια, πόδια, σήψη. Θυμήθηκα και το ταξίδι μου στο Κάϊρο πριν από αρκετά χρόνια, απ’ τη μια άνθρωποι να ζουν σε σκηνές στα νεκροταφεία, ρημαγμένα κτίρια, παρηκμασμένος πολιτισμός κι απ’ την άλλη πολυτελείς μερσεντές.Είναι καλογραμμένο, έχει χιούμορ. Ο Λούζακ είναι καλοστυμμένος καθώς ενηλικιώνεται, η Αμρίτα κομψά ζυγισμένη παρότι ανεπαρκώς ψυχογραφημένη κι ο Έιμπ υπέροχος. Επίσης, κάτι που θεωρώ σπάνιο προσόν, το βιβλίο δεν είναι φλύαρο. Μια αρκετά καλή πλοκή που δεν αποφεύγει βέβαια ορισμένες κοινοτοπίες του χώρου. Μια ιστορία να διασκεδάσεις. Μου άρεσε και η στακάτη, καυστική και ελάχιστα τρυφερή αιτιολόγηση του πως μετατρέπεται κάποιος σε χαζομπαμπά.Επίσης, ως ένα βαθμό μου άρεσε κι η εξήγηση με τις μαύρες τρύπες που ξεκίνησε να δίνει, αλλά όχι η σύνδεση της με την Καλκούτα.Ούτε τέλος μου άρεσε ο υπαινιγμός για την Καλκούτα και τη νόσο Χάνσεν. Δυο παρατηρήσεις πάνω στην πλοκή:α) Το όπλο πως πέρασε τον έλεγχο του αεροδρομίου;β) Προς τι ο αναχρονισμός σχετικά με το Ρόμπινσον; Ο Ντας εξαφανίστηκε το 1969, το 1977 χαρακτήρισε το Ρόμπινσον νέο ποιητή. Ο Ρόμπινσον πέθανε το 1935 άρα προς τι τον χαρακτηρίζει νέο; Κι ακόμη και αν τον έμαθε τότε το τραγούδι των Σίμον και Γκάρφανκελ για τον Κόρι έπαιζε ήδη από το 1966.Παρακάτω ακολουθούν και ορισμένα αποσπάσματα που συνετέλεσαν στη βαθμολογία θετικά, με εξαίρεση το απόσπασμα απ’ τη σελίδα 257 που αν και κομψά τρυφερό, δεν το καταγράφω γιατί αφορά την κατάληξη. Υπάρχουν ορισμένα σημεία τόσο όμορφα και καλογραμμένα που ο συγγραφέας αν απέφευγε τα φτηνά τρικ θα μπορούσε να καλπάσει.΄΄Πέθανε ακριβώς εκεί.Σωπάσαμε και ακολουθήσαμε με το βλέμμα το δάχτυλο του Κρίσνα. Η γωνία που έδειχνε ήταν άδεια. Το 1941συνέχισε ο Κρίσνα, ο γέροντας ξεψυχούσε, έσβηνε. Κάποιοι μαθητές του ήρθαν να του παρασταθούν. Στη συνέχεια κι άλλοι. Σιγά – σιγά το σπίτι γέμισε κόσμο. Οι περισσότεροι δεν γνώριζαν τον ποιητή. Οι μέρες περνούσαν. Ο Ταγκόρ δεν έλεγε να πεθάνει. Στο τέλος αποφάσισαν να το διασκεδάσουν. Κάποιος πήγε στο αμερικάνικο αρχηγείο – υπήρχαν ήδη στρατιώτες στην πόλη – και επέστρεψε με ένα μηχάνημα προβολής και αρκετές μπομπίνες φιλμ. Παρακολουθούσαν με τις ώρες Χοντρό – Λιγνό και Μίκυ Μάους. Ο γέρος ήταν βυθισμένος σε κώμα, ξεχασμένος στη γωνιά του. Κάπου – κάπου έσκιζε τα νερά του επιθανάτιου ύπνου κι έβγαινε σαν ψάρι στην επιφάνεια. Φανταστείτε τη σύγχυση και την απορία του! Πέρα από πλάτες φίλων και κεφάλια αγνώστων έβλεπε τις τρεμουλιαστές εικόνες στον τοίχο΄΄΄΄- Δεν καταφύγατε ποτέ στη βία;- Όχι- Ανοησίες- Αλήθεια λέω. Εντάξει παραδέχομαι ότι έχω καβγαδίσει κάποιες φορές αλλά πάντοτε πάσχιζα να αποφύγω τη βία.- Όχι δε λέτε αλήθεια. Όλοι έχουν δοκιμάσει το αιμάτινο κρασί της Κάλι.- Κάνετε λάθος. Μερικά ασήμαντα περιστατικά. Παιδαριώδη πράγματα.- Δεν υπάρχουν ασήμαντες πράξεις βίας΄΄΄΄Ό,τι φοβόμαστε, το φοβόμαστε γιατί κάποια δύναμη ασκεί την εξουσία της πάνω μας΄΄.΄΄- Δεν προσφέρει καμιά ελπίδα.- Είναι φορές που δεν υπάρχει ελπίδα.- Πάντα υπάρχει ελπίδα.- Όχι δεν υπάρχει. Μερικές φορές υπάρχει μόνον πόνος. Και συναίνεση στον πόνο. Και ίσως καταφρόνια για ένα κόσμο που προκαλεί και απαιτεί τόσον πόνο.- Η καταφρόνια είναι μια μορφή ελπίδας, δε συμφωνείτε΄΄;Εδώ αντί να περιγράψει το φρικαλέο με όρους φρίκης, επιλέγει το σαρδόνιο αποφεύγοντας την κοινοτοπία και αποφορτίζοντας κομψά, με αυτό τον τρόπο που σκεφτόμαστε με την μεγαλύτερη ψυχρότητα και αδιαφορία στις πλέον τεταμένες στιγμές που έχουμε αδειάσει ολότελα.΄΄ Όταν ήμουν παιδί οι γονείς μου είχαν αγοράσει την πλήρη σειρά της Εικονογραφημένης Εγκυκλοπαίδειας του Κόμπτον. Ο αγαπημένος μου τόμος ήταν εκείνος που ασχολούνταν με το ανθρώπινο σώμα. Πολλές σελίδες του είχαν διαφάνειες. Ξεκινούσαν μ’ ολόκληρο το σώμα – δέρμα, αισθητήρια όργανα, τα πάντα – και καθώς γύρναγες τα ντελικάτα χαρτιά έμπαινες σιγά – σιγά στα μυστήρια του οργανισμού. Όλα ήταν τακτικά και συμμαζεμένα, κωδικοποιημένα κατά χρώμα, με λεζάντες για τις παραπομπές. Το κορμί που είχα τώρα μπροστά μου ήταν η δεύτερη σελίδα – ΜΥΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΕΝΟΝΤΕΣ. Από το λαιμό και κάτω, το δέρμα ήταν γδαρμένο και τραβηγμένο προς τα πίσω…΄΄΄΄Τα μάτια του κοριτσιού ήταν σφιχτά κλεισμένα, σα να προσπαθούσε να συγκεντρωθεί, και το σώμα της μισάνοιχτο. Ακουμπούσε το μάγουλο στη μικρή γροθιά της. Σύντομα θα ‘πρεπε να ξυπνήσει, να ανάψει φωτιά, να σερβίρει πρωινό στους άντρες, να ταϊσει τα μικρότερα παιδιά, να αντιμετωπίσει το τέλος μιας παιδικής ηλικίας που δεν είχε καν προλάβει να ζήσει. Πολύ γρήγορα θα έφευγε από τον πατέρα της και θα περνούσε στην κατοχή ενός άλλου άντρα – του συζύγου της – και την ημέρα εκείνη θα δεχόταν την παραδοσιακή ινδουιστική ευχή, κάτι σαν χρίσμα: << Είθε να γεννήσεις οχτώ γιούς >>. Αλλά για την ώρα είχε για παρηγοριά της τον ύπνο: με σφιγμένη τη γροθιά, το κεφαλάκι της στη λάσπη, τα μάτια της κλειστά κόντρα στο πρωινό φως΄΄.΄΄…με μοναδική μου άμυνα το δύσχρηστο εργαλείο της γλώσσας και την αίσθηση ενός ακαθόριστου, ανακόλουθου μηχανισμού της πραγματικότητας΄΄.

  • Joe Valdez
    2019-03-05 14:59

    Spellbinding tale of psychological horror by Dan Simmons that comes on like a fictionalized account of books like The Serpent and the Rainbow or In Sorcery's Shadow, which chronicle a white man's descent into native superstition, existential dread and finally, life threatening evil while studying abroad. An appropriate subtitle might be "Never get off the boat".In 1977, Robert Luczak is a creative writing instructor, poet and co-editor of a literary magazine in New York who ignores the advice of his editor and accepts an assignment to Calcutta,. He is given permission to bring his Bengali-born wife (a translator) and their infant along, though the former is far from beguiled by the opportunity to return to her country of origin. Luczak is tasked with obtaining a new manuscript by a famed Indian poet named M. Das. The only problem is that M. Das disappeared eleven years ago. Either the manuscript is a fake, or M. Das has a story to tell.Over half the novel seems dedicated to building mood and slipping intrigue into the story. To Simmons' credit, he does not cart out stock villains but instead, the city of Calcutta becomes the antagonist. It is portrayed as an abyss of poverty, famine, disease, pollution, corruption and suffering that threatens to suck the soul out of the protagonists. From the moment Luczak exits the airport, his dread is palpable and so is the reader's. Simmons trusts the reader to use their imaginations to determine whether Luczak is plagued by demons he packed with him or is being tormented by the goddess of death herself. The language is exquisite, full of vivid, sensual detail. And it's scary. The climax drops a hammer on the reader and made me consider the wisdom of ever getting my passport stamped in India.

  • Greg
    2019-02-19 12:41

    Although this novel is classified as horror, the nature of that horror is somewhat ambiguous. There are hints of supernatural horror and there is the presence of violent criminality but, in some ways, it is the Indian city of Calcutta (Kolkata in modern spelling) itself that is the true horror portrayed in this book. This is due to its densely overpopulated environment, its shocking levels of deprivation, its gulfs of inequality, and its poor sanitation – all of it worsened by the monsoon season, during which time the story is set. The protagonist, Robert Luczak’s, introduction to Calcutta was at night:‘The marshy fields of darkness that had bordered the highway gave way suddenly to a jumble of shacks that came right up to the shoulder of the road. [...] Seemingly without transition we were out of the country and winding through narrow, rain-filled streets that twisted past blocks of derelict high-rises, miles of tin-roofed slums, and endless vistas of decaying, blackened storefronts.’ (p. 26)‘It began to rain again. The sudden downpour beat at the metal of the bus like fists from the dark sky. Only the driver’s side of the windshield had a wiper, and it moved sluggishly against the curtain of water that soon put a veil between the city and us.’ (p. 28)In the daytime, Luczak found the city to be ‘impressive’, if a little ‘intimidating’:‘The scene was almost comical in its mad intensity. Pedestrians, flotillas of bicycles, oriental-looking rickshaws, automobiles, flatbed trucks adorned with swastikas, countless motorbikes, and creaking bullock carts all vied for our narrow lane of torn-up pavement. Cattle wandered freely, blocking traffic, poking their heads into shops, and wading through heaps of raw garbage which were stacked on curbs or piled in the center of the street. At one point the refuse lay knee-deep for three blocks, lining the street like a dike. Human beings also waded through it, competing with the cattle and crows for edible bits.Farther on, schoolgirls in prim white blouses and blue skirts crossed the street in single file while a brown-belted policeman held up traffic for them. [...]The sweet smell of incense and sewage came in through the open window of the car. [...] And everywhere was the unceasing movement of brown-skinned humanity – an almost tidal flow of jostling, white- and tan-garbed population which seemed to make the very air heavy with its moist exhalations.’ (p. 35)The plot is interesting enough – a literary journalist in America (Luczak) is given an assignment by his editor to travel to India with his Indian wife and their young daughter so that he can interview a poet who had apparently resurfaced after disappearing in 1969. What appears to be a straightforward task (coupled with visiting in-laws in India) turns out to be an increasingly mysterious and dangerous undertaking that appears to involve him with cultists of the Hindu goddess, Kali. The ever-present environment recedes into the background to some degree as the tension builds and the protagonist’s situation becomes more strange and desperate. Set in 1977, the story was written in the early 1980s when there was no World Wide Web or mobile phones – the Telex was still being used to send long-distance messages (p. 30) – and the humble typewriter was still de rigeur for journalists. Today, an interview would most likely be conducted over an email exchange or a video chat, leaving no opportunity for a story like Song of Kali, which hinges on a clash of cultures in an environment alien to the protagonist, to unfold.What I liked most about this book is its rich, yet economical, prose and its wry humour. Examples of this style of writing include:‘Somewhere closeby [sic], a toilet flushed explosively’. (p. 31)‘Suddenly a white-smocked retainer appeared from the shadows and distributed chipped cups heavy with sugar, clotted buffalo milk, and a little tea.’ (p. 36)‘Her voice was as high and shrill as a saw moving on metal. The irritable, nasal tones clashed with her dignified appearance.’ (p. 37)‘He was tall and skinny, wearing dirty brown trousers and a white shirt that looked gray and grimy in the green fluorescent lighting. His face was relatively young – late twenties, perhaps – and clean-shaven, but his black hair stood out in great electric tufts and his dark, piercing eyes gave an impression of such intensity that it bordered on a sense of restrained violence. His eyebrows were dark brush strokes that almost met above a falcon’s predatory beak.’ (p. 22)Literary names are occasionally dropped (e.g. Joyce Carol Oates andRabindranath Tagore on pp. 2-3) while Luczak ponders his inability to convince his wife, Amrita, to take an interest in ‘the trashy Stephen King novels’ he liked bringing with him to the beach (p. 52). I wonder if King subsequently took a similar swipe at Simmons’ work in one of his own books?I found some observations about Calcutta in the 1970s to be interesting, such as how cow dung was gathered and then kneaded into patties to be used as fuel for fires, both to cremate the dead and to cook food (pp. 95, 193), and that gold bracelets worn by young girls dressed in rags would later be used as their dowry (p. 141). There is an interesting discussion of contrasting Indian and Western views of poverty, politics and the caste system between Amrita, Luczak and his formal literary contact in India, Michael Leonard Chatterjee, a well-to-do member of the Bengali Writers’ Union, on pp. 129-40.As this was set in the ’70s, a few things reminded me of my childhood. Luczak and his family flew to India on a BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) flight (p. 20), a little anachronistically since the company was renamed British Airways in 1974. Having flown on some BOAC flights myself as a young child, I was reminded of my membership of the BOAC Junior Jet Club. Here's a picture of my club badge: When Luczak notices for the first time somebody tapping a cigarette against a cigarette case (pp. 249-50), it reminded me of my father’s habit of doing this on cigarette packs (and occasionally his own cigarette case) as I was growing up. Luczak’s childhood recollection of his parents’ set of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia and its pages with translucent overlays showing the various parts and functions of the human body is similar to the Worldbook Encyclopedia set my own parents got in the late ’70s with its similar overlays of the human body!Overall, the book was an enjoyable read as much because of its prose as for the compelling and, at times, bizarre narrative. As horror, I thought it was relatively mild, much of it being suggestive rather than actual and I was a little disappointed at that. However, I very much liked the story related by a young Indian man to Luczak (over the space of three chapters) about his own experiences with the Kali cultists, as it contained a significant amount of horror in its own right and hinted strongly at the supernatural. This would’ve been entertaining to read as a short story in its own right! If the horror is a bit weak, the quality of the prose makes this still a worthwhile read. I look forward to reading more of Simmons’ work in the future.Book finished on 1 Nov. 2013; review posted 13 Oct. 2014!

  • James
    2019-02-27 19:50

    Not sure how to fully convey what the reading experience of this book is. Engrossingly bad is accurate but a little general. Man goes to Calcutta and has a dreadful time potentially mirroring authors own unpleasantness in Calcutta and potentially entire book is an exercise of working through said unpleasantness -a little dismissive. Reader discovers the horror genre is not for him but begrudgingly admits he woke up in the middle of the night and finished the whole book strategically ignoring all grumbling complaints gets a little closer.Ok then this is not a good book but you do want to finish it even if the whole thing is a bit unsavoury and if you met the author at a dinner party it would be awkward. Man goes to India with family to retrieve manuscripts, India repulsed, hood winks and roundly horrifies him, he goes nuts seeks solace back in the west from deep unknowable eastern evil. Perhaps best captured by not really worth your time but if it is the only book available in some resort and you have read everything else then by all means give it a go.

  • Keri Ann
    2019-03-14 18:42

    I bought Song of Kali after hearing people say that it was one of the scariest books they've ever read. I didn't find this book "scary" in the traditional sense, but it definitely had its creepy parts. The story revolves around a man and his family taking a business trip to Calcutta and the supernatural troubles that find him there. The aspect of the story that I found most horrifying was the portrayal of the darkest side of humanity. I can handle horror stories where the monster came from under the bed or from beyond the grave, but when the monster is someone sitting next to you on the bus, that causes a deeper fear. I really enjoyed the book, it stared slow but I couldn't put it down towards the end. All in all, the book didn't leave me scared of the dark but it certainly ensured that I will NEVER travel to or near Calcutta.

  • Мая
    2019-03-10 18:57

    Докосваща книга. Отвъд мрачността и ужасите на Калкута, всъщност песента на Кали ни говори за нас. За нас хората, за тъмнината вътре в душите ни и векът, в който живеем от едно известно време. Век на жестокост, разрушение - морално, духовно и обществено, насилие и гнилост. Като Калкута. Като всеки един насилник в света, с душа толкова грозна, колкото улиците описани в тази книга. Прочетете я, има и красота между страниците. Особено в края <3

  • Will
    2019-02-28 19:44

    A worthy winner of the World Fantasy Award!Before I read this novel, I was surprised to hear that it won the World Fantasy award. Just because it is Dan Simmons' first novel. After reading it, I fully understand why it did.It is a fantastic read! It feels as though you are actually in Calcutta. An incredible achievement for Simmons!My favorite part about Song of Kali was the characters. Bobby is brilliant, witty and just a normal guy working for a magazine. He isn't a hero. Just a normal person, which is what made him so interesting. One of my favorite parts is when someone reads a description of Calcutta and asked if it matches what Bobby thinks of Calcutta. He agreed and was then told that it was a description of London during the Industrial Revolution. I know it's trivial, but little parts like this make a great story. The only downside I can think of is that one of the more important parts of the story, it was read from a poem. I personally struggle analysing and understanding poetry, so this part kind of went over my head. But I got a basic understanding, and it didn't affect the story as a whole. Overall, as a debut novel, it is brilliant! If I was told that this was his 7th novel, I wouldn't have been surprised. A strong 4* and I thoroughly recommend it!

  • Laura Floyd
    2019-02-17 20:43

    This is supposed to be the scariest book ever. It is scary in spots and maintains a rich tone dripping with dread. And it makes you want to never visit India. But it wasn't all that scary, I think because the scary things are all in Calcutta. As soon as the characters return to America, the threat disappears.

  • Randolph Carter
    2019-02-25 14:45

    Xenophobic and overrated terror novel.