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Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Anthony G Williams

Greybeard
Joined
Apr 18, 2007
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1,225
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I kept reading about how good the two Hyperion books were so I eventually bought an omnibus edition including both Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion. It is the size of a substantial doorstop so it sat on my shelf for a few months while I found excuses to read shorter books. However, I eventually stiffened my sinews, gritted my teeth and got stuck in.

It isn't quite what I expected, which was a conventional, if superior, space opera. In fact, it's an unusual book with an unconventional structure and an inconclusive ending (just as well I have its sequel available, or I'd be feeling frustrated). The setting is a 29th century human commonwealth known as the Hegemony, which spreads over a couple of hundred worlds in one sector of the galaxy. Two other groups with a major influence on events are the Ousters, a renegade human group who had departed long before to live in space away from the rest of humanity and are now in conflict with the Hegemony, and the TechnoCore, consisting of human-created artificial intelligences which had thrown off human control and now had a parallel existence, mostly virtual but occasionally via human avatars. One of the avatars with a significant role is a recreation of the poet John Keats; the author is clearly a fan.

The plot concerns seven very diverse people called by The Church of the Shrike to undertake a hazardous pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on the remote world of Hyperion. These mysterious, empty objects predate humanity and are surrounded by strange time eddies. They are also haunted by the deadly Shrike, a legendary being of only partly-glimpsed form consisting mainly of red multi-faceted eyes and steel blades, with the ability to appear and disappear at will. When the seven arrive on Hyperion, they are greeted by chaos; the Shrike has broken away from the constraints which had kept it close to the Time Tombs and is roaming the country, killing at will. The spaceport is besieged by the entire human population who are desperate to leave. Despite this, the seven proceed with their pilgrimage across an empty land, believing that they stand a chance of unravelling the mystery of the Tombs and the Shrike.

The seven were previously strangers to one another so they spend their travelling time telling their stories in turn to the group in order to explain their interest in the Tombs, and the novel principally consists of these stories. This structure is reminiscent of (and presumably inspired by) Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The stories are an astonishingly varied and inventive collection, ranging from a poet whose muse was the Shrike, through a legendary military commander who appeared to have been manipulated by it, to the elderly father of a daughter who, as a young archaeologist, had been caught in a time anomaly while exploring the tombs and from then on had lost rather than gained age, and was now a baby in his arms.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have a general preference for shorter and faster-paced novels. The deliberate pacing of Hyperion coupled with the story-telling format (which, contrary to the general advice for novel writing, largely consists of "telling" not "showing") sacrifices some of the buzz of excitement of a good thriller. However, Hyperion is very well written, highly original and intriguing. I am thoroughly hooked and looking forward to reading the sequel.

(An extract from my SFF blog)
 

Parson

This world is not my home
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Oct 11, 2006
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Iowa
Don't expect it to get much better. I would rate the whole series high on originality, but almost insufferably convoluted with a wholly unsatisfying conclusion. I have no desire to read it again, and I think the series has to be the most overrated anywhere.
 

gully_foyle

Here kitty kitty kitty!
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
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Brisbane, Queensland
Hmmm. Just finished it. I think it was 6 novella's linked by a common frame of reference. the ending was not an ending. The book just stopped. I was a bit annoyed by that. Can anyone tell me if there is an actual sequel that continues on from that point and ties it all up. I must confess, the ending was really annoying. I enjoyed the stories up until the last one and then realised that they were a bit heavy on the sentimentality and the pilgrims were a bunch of emotional cripples more than anything else. Overall, a good read, but unsatisfying at the end.
 

Taltos

Creeping in shadows
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Jun 7, 2005
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Current book list http://www.shelfari.com/RandomMG
Can anyone tell me if there is an actual sequel that continues on from that point and ties it all up.
Anthony G Williams wrote in the first message in this thread ... this book should be read with The Fall of Hyperion - which completes the book and there is a continuation of the story in Endymion and the Rise of Endymion - but these aren't required. I can understand your frustration - here the book was released over 8 years - about 2 years between the books :eek::mad:

Overall, a good read, but unsatisfying at the end.
Well The Fall of Hyperion finishes the story nicely, and if you like it Endymion is also recommended ;)
 

papajoev

Papa Joe V.
Joined
May 31, 2007
Messages
2
I enjoyed the first two books Hypermion and its sequal which I suspect the author wrote as one novel. The other sequals not so much. I've read other books by Dan Simmons, some excellent and some not so great. Some of his other books are in the horror genre. I would say that Hyperion is a mixed genre book, SF with horror and fantasy elements mixed in.
 

Quokka

wandering
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Mar 26, 2005
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1,403
I really enjoyed them though I'm yet to read Rise of Endymion. You do have to read Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion to get any sense of a conclusion. Hyperion imo is really just the characters taking a pause and composing themselves (maybe even cleansing themselves?) before reaching their destination and I think ending as it does helps to create that feeling. Of course I had Fall of Hyperion sitting on the bedside beside me ready to go :).

I wasn't too excited about reading Endymion initially, I'm usually fairly wary of authors returning to a finished series and there just didn't seem to be a need for it but Endymion seems to be a different enough story and if not as good as Hyperion I was pleasantly suprised how much I enjoyed reading it.
 
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