terpkristin's Reviews > Hyperion

Hyperion by Dan Simmons
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Jun 06, 12

bookshelves: sci-fi, fantasy, dead-tree, 2012, audiobook, re-read, sword-and-laser
Read from May 05 to 18, 2012

Audiobook from Audible Frontiers
Narrated by Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Pariseau, Jay Snyder, Victor Bevine
Length: 20 hours, 44 minutes

I read this book in 2004 or 2005 after seeing it on some "Top 100 Science Fiction Ever" type list and deciding to try to read them all. Hyperion was rated very highly (within the top 5), so I read it pretty early in that project. At the time, I didn't know that it was only half a book, so when I got to the end, I was livid. I couldn't believe the "ending" just stopped like it did. I hated it so much that I never read any of the others on the list. In 2009 or so, someone told me that it was the first in a 4-book series, and that I would have to read at least The Fall of Hyperion to get the story (the other two books, Endymion books, were not strictly necessary). When S&L selected it as the May, 2012 pick, I decided it was time to try it again.

Hyperion is a collection of character background stories--each like a novella or longer short story--wrapped loosely into a narrative
of a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion to confront the Shrike (also known as The Lord of Pain). The story itself apparently is similar to The Canterbury Tales, but as I've never read that, I cannot judge. It does reference many works of literature. There are 6 character tales: the priest, the soldier, the poet, the scholar, the detective, and the consul. The stories are told as each pilgrim describes their tie to Hyperion, why they were selected for the pilgrimage.

Of the stories, the priest's (the first tale) and the scholar's (the fourth tale) tales were my favorite. Interestingly, they have somewhat similar/tied themes. The priest tells a tale of another priest he knew, one who went to Hyperion to seek out a long-lost tribe of people and ended up indoctrinated to the religion "of the cruciform." He was made to suffer for this religion. The scholar's tale deals with faith and sacrifice in the guise of a sickness that affects his daughter. In the interest of not spoiling anything, I'll say that these were my favorite stories. They were touching and heart-wrenching. Across these stories, the reader learns about the Shrike, the religion associated with the Shrike, and the Time Tombs.

The soldier's tale (the second tale) tells the reader about the military in post-Earth universe (introducing the "bad guys" or "rebels" in the Ousters and the "good guys" in The Force) and makes some statements about the general pointlessness of war--and the human costs. Sadly, the soldier's tale was one of my least favorite stories, as it was mostly war and sex, neither which I found interesting.

The poet's tale (the third tale) introduces the reader to the history of the world and the class system in this universe from the eyes of a jaded jerk. It introduces the planet of Hyperion and tells of the first people who settled on it, originally intended to be a refuge for artists. In many ways, the poet's voice seems to be that of Simmons himself. There were some interesting points, such as a comment that in the day of the free "web space," copyright meant next to nothing (written in the late 80's no less), but all in all it seemed like a bit of a rant and was rather drawn-out. I think Simmons also used this to be his soapbox on the woes of the publishing industry.

The detective's tale (the fifth tale) had potential. It introduced a lot of the "futuristic" cyberpunk-type stuff that we love in science fiction. It also had thriller elements and introduced a bit of a mystery. Sadly, it didn't live up to the potential. The mystery was resolved in a way that seemed convoluted and it dragged on--it could have easily been about 1/4 shorter and been completely fine.

The consul's tale, the last story in the book, was a bit of a mish-mosh. Most of the story is not about the consul himself, but is about his grandparents. Through the narrative, the reader sees how the hegemony takes over worlds without regard for the natives. It also shows some of the drawbacks with faster-than-light travel, as there is a romance story but because one of the people does a lot of FTL travel, they don't age as much as their beloved. Sadly, in the end, we find out what the consul knows and what he knows seems to make a good bit of the rest of the setup kind of irrelevant. This was one that as I listened, my mind wandered...a lot. The story wasn't linear, so it was sometimes hard to follow, which didn't help.

At the beginning of the book, there is a 7th pilgrim, a templar of the tree religion. Unfortunately, the book barely touches the surface of his story and he is not discussed.

For this re-read, I listened to the audio version of the book. I got it from Audible. It had one main narrator, then the voices of the characters were all done by different narrators. The audio version was really well done; the different voice actor for each character really helped draw me in, got me closer to each character. The woman who does the voice for the detective was a little over the top at times, but it was still good.

All in all, this book is greater than the sum of its parts. In particular, the priest's tale the scholar's tale really make the book, though the other stories add depth (even if they're not as interesting or well-written). The only down side of the book is that it ends completely unsatisfactorily - apparently the publisher decided it would be split and chose a very cliffhanger-y way to do it. As such, one really must read The Fall of Hyperion (and possibly the Endymion books). I'll be starting that one on Tuesday.
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Reading Progress

05/05/2012 page 61
13.0% "This is a re-read for me. Listening to the audiobook this time, but using my DTE to determine what page I'm on. I'm sucked in once again, but am slightly irritated by the random pauses that the narrator takes while reading the book." 1 comment
05/05/2012 page 102
21.0% "Finished the first story, the Priest's tale. I forgot how much it sucks you in." 1 comment
05/11/2012 page 192
40.0% "The soldier's tale was hard for me to get through. I just don't care about battle scenes. My mind kept wandering, I had to keep rewinding. Now I'm into the poet's tale. I can do with less poetry in general."
05/13/2012 page 376
78.0% "Halfway through (?) the detective's tale. The poet's tale wasn't much better than the soldier's. The scholar's tale wrecked me. I'm sure I've put my parents through similar things that Sol and his wife suffered with Rachel. Enjoying the pace of the detective's tale."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Davebo I hope tuesday went well.


terpkristin It did. :)

I finished and quite enjoyed the entire Cantos . I'm glad I gave it another go.


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