Hyperion by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This review is for both Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion.
As best I can recall, my first exposure to Dan Simmons was the short story Orphans of the Helix. I enjoyed the story, thus deciding to add the rest of the Hyperion Cantos to my reading list. It took me a while to get around to it, but somehow, I think it was worth the wait!
Hyperion takes a little getting used to. It's set as a frame story (like the Canterbury Tales), which makes for an awkward plot line. You glimpse the overall plot in little flashes, piecing it together as you hear the individual stories of the characters. All of the characters are richly imagined, and pretty well fleshed out. The writing is more impressive in the individual stories than in the between pieces (understandably). The pilgrimage is a little hard to swallow; we're talking about an advanced, planet-hopping spaceship-teleporting society, and yet it's taking this group somewheres between a week and a month to reach their destination? The justification for this are the entropic fields and time tides surrounding the destination. Time tides? Really? One of my biggest pet peeves in the science fiction genre is the whole idea of time travel. Perhaps my scientific understanding is weak, but I feel like it just leaves too many holes in a plotline, becoming the ultimate solution to the problem. However, time travel is only just touched upon in Hyperion, leaving enough story to appreciate and great writing to enjoy.
I was amused by the constant references to (I'm guessing) favorite artists that Simmons drops through the book. (My favorite? the legendary cyberpuke Cowboy Gibson.) They made the story more fun.
The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The Fall of Hyperion is a direct continuation of the story. While there are brief exposition points inserted (that aren't necessary if you've continued directly from Hyperion), you'd be pretty well lost if you tried to pick it up on its own. The writing is as strong, though the characters do not go through as much development. You meet a couple new characters and the plot twists finally become clear, and begin to resolve. I felt that everything important was wrapped up when I finished the book. While concerns of time travel are more prevalent than they were in Hyperion, I still feel that they are handled delicately enough. There's also a large dose of omniscience and Godhood, something usually reserved for fantasy. However, the scifi genre gives a new platform for airing ideas. The thoughts that come from Sol Weintraub are a whole theme to examine, and probably those from Paul Dure as well (though I got less out of that).
I really enjoyed these, and think they deserve a high place in the hierarchy of scifi literature.
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