Dan Simmons
Hyperion Cover



Told in the fashion of The Canterbury Tales or The Decameron, eight travelers have been sent on a pilgrimage by The Church of the Final Atonement, to visit the Shrike, a terrible, world-ending, creature of destruction. Each pilgrim sets to telling the others their tale in the dual hope of passing the time and trying to uncover how to defeat the Shrike. The collected stories are nothing short of fabulous.

What I (didn't) like

The universe Simmons has created in Hyperion is the bomb-diggity. But somehow, the total work of art never came together for me. The shrike, the time tombs, the ouster/hegemony/Technocore dynamic - THE CYBRID! - were all remarkable, at least intellectually. The way that Simmons reveals, in pieces, the full dynamic of Hyperion's universe represents some really skillful world-building. Thinking back on it all now, it sounds like serious good stuff, and yet as I was actually listening to Hyperion, I just couldn't force myself to give a crap at any given moment whether my stereo blew up and I never had a chance to finish the book (blasphemy!!!).

I know, it's just not right. In addition to all of the above, Hyperion was also a theological SF/modern lit lover's heaven. It recalled to me some of those really great theological Hugo winners of the past: A Canticle for Leibowitz, A Case of Conscience, even some notes of Zelazny's Lord of Light (I think of these as the "Big Three" of the theological Hugo's... so good). Erg...this alone should have been enough to push Hyperion over the top in my usual estimation.

Well actually, Martin Silenus alone came pretty close; not only was "The Poet's Tale" JUST RIDONKS, but it stands as probably the best and most comprehensive inclusion of poetry (and modern literature) in SF of any of the previous Hugo Winners (and based on what I know of the remaining 12 or 13 I have left, will probably remain that way. "The Poet's Tale" was also one of the best readings of the many really superb actors involved in Brilliance Audio's audiobook.

Geez, you have got to listen to the telling of Silenus losing his vocabulary. Literally, spit-take funny and oh so gloriously vulgar.

Alas, any one tale independently just didn't do it for me. All that coolness, and it somehow just never gelled. Maybe I was preoccupied. Maybe I'm a bonehead. I think it was simply that I was just so completely absorbed with each story that I was never able to string them together in my mind very well. The arcs of each story swung so wildly and ended so abruptly that they all somehow remained compartmentalized for me - which is complete baloney because NONE of the stories are self-contained. My idiocy is inexcusable and now the world knows it.

I should end this with a clearer statement. I loved this book. Simmons writes and creates his world unforgettably (and the audiobook was read with fabulous passion by everyone involved), the tech is minimal... BUT FANTASTIC (I hope someone has already started work on cybrids - scientists, I'm looking at you), and his use of poetry, religion, mysticism, and literature creates a novel that is both terrifically dark and hysterically funny. I will read The Fall of Hyperion. But for whatever the reason, I just didn't feel like the end result was greater than the sum of its parts.

You may commence the tomato pelting.


Hyperion has made a lot of lists and won both the Hugo and Locus SF awards. The pilgrim's tales are each fascinating and I found myself disappointed when some of them ended. I suspect that I'll (retroactively) care more about the universe and the broader political and social aspects that were limited to the periphery in Hyperion when I get to The Fall of Hyperion. I'm really on the verge of saying that after 50 or so Hugo's under my belt, Hyperion is one of the most beautiful and smart yet. But I don't think I'm quite ready for that kind of commitment yet...