I’m a visual person. With me, things have to be neat, aesthetically pleasing, and in some sort of discernible order (even if that order is nothing butI’m a visual person. With me, things have to be neat, aesthetically pleasing, and in some sort of discernible order (even if that order is nothing but visually appealing chaos), otherwise I get cranky. I like charts and graphics and brightly colored pictures. This probably has something to do with the fact that I have synesthesia, specifically grapheme → color synesthesia. For me, everything has a color, and in turn, colors provoke emotions. My brain also automatically attempts to visualize intangible ideas and concepts and place them in locations in space. If I can’t visualize them, it’s very frustrating (the best example of this would be the way I visualize the year as months in a rotating oval). This is also why I have trouble with complicated math. Like many people with synesthesia, I didn’t realize this wasn’t something everybody’s brains did until I was around 25, because most people don’t just go around saying, hey don’t you just love the number 5 because it’s so red?? Or, hey, don’t Tuesdays just suck, they’re so barfy yellow. I can only imagine the incomprehending stares I would have gotten.
The point of this seemingly pointless anecdote of mine is that for about half of this book, I felt completely lost and up in the air because I couldn’t find a way to visualize the structure of the story, which made it hard to derive any satisfaction from it, since my brain was so preoccupied with trying to figure this intangible thing into something more concrete, and it just wasn’t happening. But then at about the 60% mark, something just sort of clicked, and my brain goes, it’s a spiral! And the arms are swirling down to the ground and converging as they go, and at the bottom is the denouement, the end of the story. The arms of the spiral, of course, are the pilgrims and their stories, with the addition of a new POV in the cybrid (a cloned human with the consciousness of an A.I., who also simultaneously exists in the physical world and the datasphere), and the stories of the Ousters and the AI’s, which we touched on in the first book in various pilgrims’ stories. They start out separate, and the swirl of the story pulls them together little by little. It looks confusing as it’s happening, but it all works out in the end.
I’m telling you this because I think the book might be just as disorienting for you as it was for me–though probably not in quite the same way–and I want to reassure you that everything’s going to be okay. I promise that it all makes sense, and all the various threads that don’t seem to have any connection to one another at all–the constant literary allusions, the various characters, the musings on artificial intelligences and religion, the Shrike and its Tree of Pain, the time travel, Colonel Kassad’s half-real sex goddess Moneta, and most of all, Keats and Hyperion, in all their forms–come together in the end. It gave me that feeling that all book addicts are always chasing, that elusive elation that comes only once every hundred books or so (if we’re lucky), where it seems like the universe has converged on us just to give us this wonderful story.
The Fall of Hyperion picks up directly where Hyperion left off, with our pilgrims finally approaching the Time Tombs and ready for an imminent meeting with the Shrike. Only, it doesn’t quite pick up there, because we’re all of a sudden seeing the pilgrims through the eyes of another character, who is having dreams (and waking dreams) concerning everything that is happening to the pilgrims, who are light years away from him. Why he would be having these dreams would be a spoiler, but his identity isn’t. SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ HYPERION: The other characters know him as Joseph Severn, but he’s really another genetic double of John Keats, a resurrected artificially intelligent poet/human. He’s a sort of brother cybrid to Johnny, the cybrid of Keats we met in the last book, who is now hitching a ride in Lamia’s skull back on Hyperion. And since John Keat’s famous unfinished poem “Hyperion” is the namesake of this series, you bet it’s important. The narrative shuffles back and forth from Keat’s waking life to his dreams of the pilgrims, and little by little we get all the pieces to the puzzle END SPOILERS. The result, at least for me, was satisfying on a narrative level, but also on that extra level that really gives you the reader-buzz, the level your subconscious lives on, that just keeps giving the longer you think about it.
I’m really, really glad I read this series, and I’m super excited to read the second duology that with this one makes up the Hyperion Cantos later this year....more
I read some article over the summer when the Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out that listed this as one of the books I should check out if I wanteI read some article over the summer when the Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out that listed this as one of the books I should check out if I wanted to beef up on Marvel shnizz before seeing it. I never got around to it, and I'm kinda glad. I would have expected a much different movie afterwards if I had.
This is actually the book where the current incarnation of the GOTG were created. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning pulled together the new team from previously existing characters in the Marvel universe. The previous Guardians of the Galaxy were made up of entirely different members (some of whom confusingly show up here from different universes, and one of which shows up in the movie playing a different role).
The origin of the Guardians here is very different. Here, the characters are still very connected to their previous stories (mostly Abnett's Annihilation: Conquest, and Star-Lord wanting to form the Guardians is a direct response to his own actions in that run, which I have to read now . . . sigh). The series can be read on its own, which is obvious since that's what I did, but I definitely felt like I was missing things.
I liked this book a lot. The art wasn't to my taste, but the writing was great. I loved Rocket the most, of course, but the rest of it was very amusing as well. It also managed not to be confusing despite some super weird cosmic shit going down, and despite so many of the stories and character actions relying on previous comics. Will definitely be continuing and reading the rest of the series....more
The inaugural run of Guardians of the Galaxy started out better than it finished. It started out with a pretty simple premise, and then got more complThe inaugural run of Guardians of the Galaxy started out better than it finished. It started out with a pretty simple premise, and then got more complicated as it went on, when Abnett and Lanning started throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the narrative, including of course, many instances of characters coming back from the dead, among other cliches.
I still liked this overall, especially the first half of it. The characters are likable, the dialogue is snappy, the situations operatic. But I feel like the whole COSMIC TO DO of it all got in the way of those things this time around. It wasn’t exactly confusing, but sorting out all the plot threads got to be a bit tiring, and the more stuff got shoved in towards the end, the less I cared. Also in this one, like in the last one, I think Abnett and Lanning relied a little too much on characters and places that existed elsewhere in the Marvel chronology. There’s no reason it couldn’t have been a little more self-contained, even despite the fact that all these characters came from their own stories.
They also switch artists in this one, not quite in an alternating pattern, and this had the unfortunate effect of making me prefer one over the other. The one was more like the cover, supposedly ‘realistic’, and yet I found his panels cluttered and overdramatic. The other guy had a supposedly ‘cartoony’ style, but his art worked much better for the story. It simplified it enough for the story to shine and not come over nearly so overbearing. If the whole run would have been drawn by that guy, it would have been bumped up an entire star. (Not sure if it’s Walker or Craig that I liked more.)
Overall, glad I read this, but I won’t be buying my own copy....more
So the other day, B-Sand just decided to drop this surprise novella on us, and SURPRISE, it was surprising. I downloaded it immediately. I went into iSo the other day, B-Sand just decided to drop this surprise novella on us, and SURPRISE, it was surprising. I downloaded it immediately. I went into it blind, and at first, I wasn't really very into it. It takes a little bit before you have your bearings enough to realize that no, this isn't just yet another magical world he's created with yet another magical system that didn't seem all that distinct. I was particularly worried when his narrator (a first person narrator) starts talking about re-writing the "Concepts" of the people around him, and my brain just goes NO B-SAND YOU ALREADY DID THAT ONE IN THE EMPEROR'S SOUL. WHAT ARE YOU DOING.
But then he drops the plot bomb and you realize all that cliched stuff was very much on purpose, and the story is actually a very meta one, which is fun. I've never seen Sanderson do meta before (although I heard he does it a lot in the Alcatraz books).
The center of this is actually a conversation between our narrator and a woman who is in a very similar position as he is (saying more than that would be spoilers). I actually thought this part of the story should have gone on longer. I like films and episodes of TV and stories where one conversation is the main attraction, and I think Sanderson could have played that up a bit more. The beginning and the end of the story were also weaker than I think they could have been, although if I went back to read the beginning again knowing the true nature of the story, I'd probably think it was stronger. At times, it also felt a bit convoluted, but I think that might have been a deliberate move on Sanderson's part (again, it's meta).
All in all, this was a great read, but it didn't work perfectly for me. I will be interested to see if Sanderson can ever top the aforementioned Emperor's Soul. That novella is just perfection....more