Brad's Reviews > The Fall of Hyperion

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
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's review
Nov 22, 09

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bookshelves: sci-fi
Read in November, 2009

The Fall of Hyperion is a sequel. I swear. It says so right there on the cover of my mass market paperback, right above the cheesy artist’s rendering of Sol Weintraub presenting Rachel to a rather unimpressive Shrike.

But I’ll tell you, it sure doesn’t feel like a sequel. It feels more like the first book, the main book, of a series, and it makes Hyperion feel like a prequel -- a superior prequel, but a prequel nonetheless. And I really wish I had read The Fall of Hyperion before I read its predecessor. I think I would have liked it more.

I did like it, though, despite my negative tone. I even loved some parts of it. The political machinations of Meina Gladstone, the in-fighting between the AIs (Stables, Volatiles and Ultimates), the early battles of Kassad and Moneta, the conversations with Ummon, all of these elements were fascinating, and the radical excision of the Core from all human affairs and the subsequent cost of victory blew my mind. In fact, this latter element may have been my favourite moment in either of the first two installments of Simmons' Cantos.

But these elements don't entirely mitigate my disappointment. I loved the characters from the first book; those who made the Pilgrimage to the Shrike had background stories so rich in detail, emotion, thrills, you name it, that their shift to banal plot devices, players present only to move the action along, disappointed me deeply.

I don't think I'd feel that way, though, if I'd met them in The Fall of Hyperion first. If Simmons had dropped me into the middle of the war between the Hegemony, the Ousters and the Core, if he'd thrown me into the midst of the Time Tombs, if he'd introduced me to the Shrike and the Keats persona and the Pilgrims -- without the baggage of what got them there -- I think I would have cruised through The Fall of Hyperion and loved it with fervor. Then I would have hungered to go back and find out what brought the Pilgrims to Hyperion, and I would have been thrilled by a prequel that was even better than the original.

Sadly, there's no going back now. But if you are someone who's planning to read these books for the first time I beg you to ignore the official order and start with The Fall of Hyperion. I am convinced you'll get more out of it if you've got nothing to compare it to and a healthy sense of wonder and confusion about what you are reading.

I'm really not sure I should continue reading the Cantos, but the temptation of finally understanding the purpose of the Shrike may be too tantalizing to ignore.
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Reading Progress

11/09 page 143
27.66% "I've been pretty disappointed, until now. Kassad just made love to Moneta and stepped through the violet portal with the Shrike. Game on."
11/13 page 225
43.52% "Did anyone else find this installment a slog? I don't hate it, but it is work. I am not reveling in any part of it like I did Hyperion." 5 comments
11/16 page 298
57.64% "What the hell is up with the deus ex machinas? Yikes"
11/19 page 431
83.37% "There is some brilliant stuff in here, and some of Umman is even brilliant, but there is a big BUT that gets in the way of total enjoyment."
02/07 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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message 1: by Jon (last edited Nov 22, 2009 11:39AM) (new) - added it

Jon I like your perspective on these two books. Looking back a year ago (when I read them), I agree with you. At the time I thought I liked the second book better than the first. But now, seeing it through the lens your present in your review, perhaps I was just euphoric. The plot continued and questions were answered so I was 'satisfied' with the conclusion presented in Fall of Hyperion. Sometimes, it's like the itch I can't scratch ... the mystery must be solved or I will go nuts with the not knowing.

But I wonder if I would have liked the two books more if I had read them in reverse order as you suggest. I guess I'll never know. :)

Thanks for making me thing though. Always good to stir the gray matter at my age. :)

Brad Yeah...cause you are sooooo old! ;)

Tatiana I agree with you that the books seemed out of order the way I read them. Especially I disliked the way the first book would get you all interested in one story line, then jump to a completely different story with a new viewpoint character. It seemed like every time I started to get into the book and forget myself in the story, the jagged edges would rip that fabric right through and I had to pick up with a totally new weaving. Had I read it in the order you propose, I would have already known all the characters from the different stories and the jumps would not have been so jarring.

Brad I think we need to find a guinea pig, someone whose mind and reading ability we trust who has never read these books, and make them read it in my proposed order. I know we can never experience it again from the top, but perhaps we could live vicariously through someone else and see if the stories are truly better that way.

Lori Well, then are you going on with the series?

Brad I think I probably will, though not straight away. I am about to start up Post Captain for my second go round. After I finish Master and Margarita & Espedair Street.

Lori Gah, everyone I know who has started the O'Brian books become addicted! My best friend couldn't get enough of them, and I made fun of her. Now am I going to have to eat crow if/when I too become obsessed?!

And where did that phrase, eat crow, come from anyway. Off to google...

message 8: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Brad wrote: "I think we need to find a guinea pig, someone whose mind and reading ability we trust who has never read these books, and make them read it in my proposed order. I know we can never experience it a..."

I will accept the challenge.

message 9: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie I paused at that "guinea pig" idea, and then read the comments and - Stephen! Hurray! :)

(Brad: Is the winter semester going to be happening?)

message 10: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Stephen wrote: "I will accept the challenge...."

Sweet. I will mail you Fall of Hyperion. You're on your own for Hyperion ;)

Bonnie: It is looking good. I'll keep you posted.

message 11: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Yea!

message 12: by I. (new) - rated it 4 stars

I. Merey Hehe, I think we read the same copy for 'Fall'. I also was thinking... nooooo that's not the Shrike. The SHRIKE? It look like a silver Wookie... and it took me a second glance to figure out the thing in the fore-figure's hand was not a magic lamp, but Rachel...

Michael So, did Stephen ever finish? How did the experiment go?

message 14: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I dunno.

message 15: by Bumblyjack (new)

Bumblyjack Brad, I read your review and find your suggestion very interesting. (It doesn't hurt that I just finished reading Old Man's War, a story that started strong and disappointingly tailed off.) I'm going to take you up on it...and I WILL come back here to report on the results.

Today begins The Fall of Hyperion...

message 16: by Bumblyjack (new)

Bumblyjack Wow. I'm not enjoying this. Severn and Gladstone engaging in one of the most boring conversations I've ever read. Simmons using way too much of his own jargon and technobabble. I'm dropping this and going for the first book, but not until I read something else first. I don't want this experience in mind when I start Hyperion.

It was a nice suggestion Brad but it isn't working for me.

Jason Brinkerhoff I haven't read your review entirely or the comments, but I started reading this without knowing it was the second book. It felt like it got off strong, but once I realized it was #2 I wasn't sure what to do. I decided to plunge ahead. Now seeing the first few lines of your review I'm glad I did. Thanks!

message 18: by Elon (new) - rated it 2 stars

Elon Wish I'd seen this review before starting these books, I would have done it! I am 90 pages from finishing Fall of Hyperion and feel like clawing my face off. I liked the first one a lot and am baffled at my own disappointment in book 2.

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