cover image Phases of Gravity

Phases of Gravity

Dan Simmons. Subterranean (, $25 (312p) ISBN 978-1-59606-476-4

Hugo-winner Simmons (Black Hills) shifts away from genre literature in this quiet masterpiece, first published in 1989. Richard Baedecker, a divorced former astronaut who walked on the moon, has hit a professional and personal low by the late ’80s. He still mourns the Challenger disaster, hates his mediocre civilian job, and can’t connect with his grown son. When he visits his son in India, Baedecker falls in love with his son’s friend Maggie, who shows him around the country and later meets him while climbing a mountain in Colorado. His travels, which take him to his Illinois birthplace and a colleague’s funeral in rural Oregon, are interspersed with flashbacks to his days at NASA, and Simmons switches perspective with a deft touch, keeping the reader off guard without ever undercutting his narrative. Fans of Simmons’s science fiction might be surprised to find him writing a mainstream novel informed by spiritualism and a hint of magic, but the story is still as good as anything Simmons has delivered. (Jan. 2012)