Dan Simmons
Hyperion Cover



I picked up Dan Simmon's Hyperion because of The Canterbury Tales elements: "religious" pilgrims telling stories on the way to a shrine. Unlike the CT, which is incomplete, Hyperion's frame narrative shows the pilgrims' movement toward the shrine and fills in a lot of background. Yet, just like the CT, the Hyperion pilgrims' stories outshine their framing device. Six of the seven pilgrims explain the reasons they have embarked on this journey to the dangerous planet of Hyperion. The planet is the home of the mysterious creatures called the Shrike, around whose violence and destruction a religion has been formed. The outcome of the pilgrimage will be this: one of the pilgrims will have his or her request fulfilled; the other six will be killed.

Since most of the pilgrims are traveling for someone else, their stories reveal their deepest relationships. Like Chaucer, Simmons plays with genre in his tales. He offers journals, detective stories, love stories, and other formats. However, unlike Chaucer, Simmons does not let the pilgrims speak in their own voices once they enter their stories. Therefore, each story is filtered through the Consul's point of view, as he functions as the third-person limited narrator. It takes some time to get used to this extra layer of narration.

The format and the extra layer of narration severely hampers character development and the readers' ability to identify with any of the seven travelers. While these limitations, too, mirror the CT; however, Simmons' decisions are incompatible with the kind of book that he wanted to write. The book ends with a cliffhanger as the pilgrims finally arrive at their destination; yet, as a reader, I'm not really invested in any of them (while I am very invested in the absent people they told stories about). The ending is disappointing because there's no closure—just the promise of another book with characters I don't really know (and am not sure that I want to). So... I won't be rushing to get The Fall of Hyperion although I'm not ruling out reading it in the future.