Author: Dan Simmons
Review Summary: Great, epic sci-fi tale with equally epic imagery. Lots of world building, which I personally enjoyed, especially in the interesting format of short stories each told from a unique perspectives.
I read Hyperion for the Sword and Laser group on Goodreads and I will definitely be reading with them next month. This was an awesome pick, some of the best sci-fi world building I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and the discussions were also some of the best I’ve seen. The story centers on a group of six pilgrims, making the last trip ever to visit a mysterious and probably malevolent creature known as the Shrike. They all have a past history with the Shrike and the world on which it lives – Hyperion. In this book, each pilgrim shares their story, slowly building up a picture of the future they inhabit, from its’ politics to its’ technologies.
I loved the short story format, in large part because the characters were so unique. As I mentioned on goodreads, the characters almost felt like caricatures – they were each so very much themselves, so very unique, and so very easy to picture. And each short story reflected that admirably through unique narrative styles and experiences.
The world built by the author was also very unique and detailed. What impressed me most was the thought he seemed to have put into future technology. I thought the concept of time debt from travelling faster than the speed of light was inspired and much more realistic than simply teleporting from place to place. The idea of houses existing on multiple worlds; of an AI intelligent enough to secede from human society; even a detailed list of new methods of artificial insemination in this future time – at every turn the author detailed possible impacts future technology could have on society.
The writing in general reminded me of some of the classics I’ve read lately in its’… formality is the best word I can find, but an explanation would be better. Part of it is the large words (occasionally over done – gymnosperms used to describe conifers, for instance). But for me the defining feature is that it’s the sort of writing I want to read out loud, to just feel the beauty of the well-crafted phrases and the carefully chosen words roll off my tongue.
So with all of this – the masterful writing, the slow interconnection of stories to build a complex world, the great characters – why isn’t this a five star review? In two words: the ending. As I just learned on goodreads, this book and its’ sequel were intended to be one book. And as I responded there, that explains a lot! The book didn’t feel like a typical cliff-hanger, where the author has intentionally left you desperate to find out what’s next. It felt more like he’d just stopped writing. Since it sounds like that’s the editor’s fault, I’m definitely planning on giving Dan Simmons another chance and reading the sequel, Fall of Hyperion. I just hope he’s written as epic an ending as this book deserved.