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Quantum Excellence May 6, 2006

Posted by thebeam in The Byways.

Quantum Excellence – literally, “a fundamental measure of excellence.” Where do we find those writers who have shown this measure?

Outside of the list of popular best selling authors, there lies another world of literary excellence. Those are the authors whose whose works populate only small regions of the bookshelves of the stores, but populate large regions of imagination, regions which are the fertile soil that good authors draw upon for inspiration. A good place to find them is by looking at those writers who have won awards from their peers in their respective literary niches.

Dan Simmons is one of those authors. Winner of the 1990 Hugo Award for Best Novel with his stunning novel Hyperion (which also won that year’s Locus Award) he recently earned another Locus Award for one of his latest novels, Illium – making him one of the top recipients of the Locus Awards, 12 to-date. Just behind Harlan Ellison and Ursula K. Le Guin in the number of Locus Awards that he could brag about; but I doubt that he does, he probably wouldn’t waste the time.

I first found his works with a particularly disquieting novel, Song of Kali, which won the 1986 World Fantasy Award. Out of the gate, he was writing at world class levels. Currently out of print, it has been years since I read the novel, which I only remember dimly, but I do remember the particular sensation of having my skin crawl and my stomach heave. For a horror novel, those are surely hallmarks of success.