First published in 1993, Lovedeath remains one of Dan Simmons’s most significant accomplishments. In five stories – four novellas and an amazing short novel – Simmons explores the intertwined themes of love and death with wit, intelligence, and grace – and from an astonishing variety of perspectives.
The volume opens with the moving “Entropy’s Bed at Midnight,” a portrait of parental love and anxiety that broadens to become a meditation on the random, frequently absurd hazards of ordinary life. The award-winning “Dying in Bangkok” is a graphic, often deeply unsettling story of vengeance and erotic vampirism set against the flesh markets of Bangkok during the height of the AIDS crisis. “Sleeping with Teeth Women” is a tale of the Lakota Sioux and of a young brave – Hoka Ushte – who embarks on a vision quest that will alter both his own life and the lives of his people. “Flashback,” a precursor to the recent novel of the same name, examines the impact of the eponymous drug that allows its users to recapture – and relive – specific moments from the past. Finally, “The Great Lover” uses the wartime journals of a fictional British poet – James Edwin Rooke – as the basis for a hallucinatory recreation of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The result is a profoundly imagined, meticulously researched narrative filled with horror, poetry, and indelible images. “The Great Lover” is, beyond doubt, one of Dan Simmons’s greatest creations. It is also one of the finest fictional portraits of the First World War ever put on paper, and it brings this masterful collection to a resonant, unforgettable conclusion.