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Master of the universes

Steve Charles - More than a month before his novel Olympos made the New York Times extended bestseller list, Dan Simmons ’70 presented the first public reading from the book to a Wabash audience packed into a Baxter Hall classroom during last summer’s Big Bash.

Now Amazon.com is featuring on its web site an interview with Simmons titled "Master of the Universes." Here’s the introduction:

"Changing genres as easily as others change clothes, Dan Simmons has won major awards with his novels, including the World Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Hugo Award. Ilium, the first book in the science fiction diptych completed by Olympos, was the Amazon.com top science fiction pick of 2003. He’s written horror, mystery, historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

"How does he do it? With pleasure…"

You can find the interview at http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/feature/-/569449/104-5681203-7933510

Dan is best known for his fiction, but I always enjoy and learn from his essays. He has written twice for Wabash Magazine (one of the most rewarding interviews I’ve ever done was for our feature about Dan in the Spring 1998 edition of WM), and you can read less formal but equally fascinating messages at his web site: www.dansimmons.com

The site also includes a revealing look by Dan’s longtime agent, Richard Curtis, about the sea changes occurring in book publishing.

You’ll also read that both Ilium and Olympos have been optioned by Digital Doman and Barnet Bain Films (producers of the Robin Williams/Cuba Gooding Jr. film What Dreams May Come). Dan is writing the screenplay.

But as Dan cautions every time his fans get excited about one of his books hitting the big screen, there are many obstacles to overcome. "I won’t believe it’s real until I’m sitting in the theater eating popcorn and watching it on the screen," Dan says.

At breakfast in Crawfordsville in June, Dan told me about his new book, The Terror, which he calls "a tale of arctic survival and psychological terror based on actual historical accounts."

As Dan enthusiastically recounted details from his research for the book, I couldn’t help but think of the conversation Dan had earlier that weekend with Wabash student Aaron Nicely, who was on campus writing fiction of his own thanks to an internship Dan funds. Dan talked with Aaron about the importance of research in fiction, and his words took root; when I caught up with Aaron a couple weeks ago, he said that doing the research for the novella he’d completed may have been the most enjoyable part of the process.

You can read about Aaron’s work at www.wabash.edu/news/displaystory.cfm?news_ID=2772

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