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Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)
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Hyperion > Chapter Three: The Poet's Struggles

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message 1: by aldenoneil (last edited May 04, 2012 09:33AM) (new) - added it

aldenoneil | 1000 comments "Belief in one's identity as a poet or writer prior to the acid test of publication is as naive and harmless as the youthful belief in one's immortality ... and the inevitable disillusionment is just as painful."

For us as readers, and for the poet as a character, his struggles (starting with the whole stroke thing) enrich the experience. So his quotation above mirrors the arc of a character in fiction, where, for example, a young (maybe arrogant) naif faces harsh reality and grows from it.

Do you like the poet more after his chapter? Less? Do you sympathize with him more?


message 2: by Rik (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rik | 514 comments I always found him to be very selfish after his struggle. He knew he was killing people via his muse yet he refused to stop.


Suzanne | 27 comments I fell in love with the description of the poet's house. Every room on a different planet, with a different compelling view. Even if we could do that with just OUR planet - wouldn't it be amazing!? Breakfast room overlooking Victoria Falls, Office by the pyramids, etc.

I like the house much more than I like the poet. I wasn't fond of him before his story, and the story made me like him less - too self centered. I did like the quotations/descriptions of famous poets, even though they made me feel uneducated.


William (UUSchwartz) | 26 comments Suzanne wrote: "I fell in love with the description of the poet's house. Every room on a different planet, with a different compelling view..."

I totally agree - Simmons definitely has a knack for introducing a piece of technology and then showing how versatile it can truly be.

I find myself indifferent to Silenus and found his chapter the least engaging. It definitely served its purpose in illuminating the history & mystery, but nothing more. His character and most of his interactions seem forced - a coward hiding behind a cracking facade of apathy.


Seawood | 129 comments I don't like Silenus and found much of the chapter tedious, although I appreciated the "break-up" withi his publisher - it made Martin seem much more like a real person than an idea of what a futuristic poet should be. But I do like Sad King Billy - mention of him was something I was intruiged by early on and I'm really enjoying the backplot involving him and the establishment of Hyperion.


Peter (Wordcaster) | 25 comments I don't sympathize with Silenus, but I found the chapter to be smart and engaging. Silenus is not a likable character -- he is self-absorbed and conceited, even if his poetic talents surpass those who might read his work.

Some part of me wonders if there is something autobiographical in this chapter -- if the words of Silenus echo the feelings of Simmons. Does he feel forced to write to serve the masses, forsaking what his muse truly wants to write?

Even though I don't like the poet, I enjoy reading his story and am curious to find out if the Shrike is his own created muse or if it just fuels his writing.


Megan (mhendon) | 9 comments I didn't like Silenus to begin with. He is very irritating, vulgar and generally unlikable. But I did find myself identifying more with him after his story, just because he spoke directly to me about the experience of "really writing" as he calls it. He talks about when your inspiration seems to be coming from "somewhere else" which I've been lucky enough to experience, as well as when you lose that inspiration, which I have also experienced :(. So far his story is my favorite because I could identify with having a fickle muse.

However, Silenus' actions in the end sort of put me back where we started with my feelings for him. I very much dislike this character because he is simply an ass. He failed to do the right thing...but so did the other two pilgrims so far, I think.

I also wondered if this chapter must be auto-biographical in a lot of ways. I think that if Silenus is so into classical writers, as we know Simmons to be, then it stands to reason that Simmons wrote more of himself than just that into Silenus. The Poet might have been his soap-box. In fact, it sort of felt like the only real part of Silenus is that he is a writer. His attitude, his vulgarity seem like a veneer--an attempt for Simmons to disguise himself? I agree that much of his character seems "forced", as William said.


message 8: by Anne (new) - rated it 1 star

Anne | 336 comments I agree that this chapter is somewhat autobiographical. How to sell a book. Take one's short stories and string them together as sci-fi, which the author obviously detests almost as much as his audience, etc. Yup, it is soap-box a la Simmons. LOL.


Gabby (GloryisBen) | 7 comments Caroline wrote: "I don't like Silenus and found much of the chapter tedious, although I appreciated the "break-up" withi his publisher - it made Martin seem much more like a real person than an idea of what a futur..."

Pretty much exactly my thoughts, Caroline. I find that Sad King Billy is definitely one of the most intriguing characters.

The quote @aldenoneil mentions really struck me as I was reading the chapter. It felt, I don't know, real? As if it was out of the author's mouth, and not Silenus'. Either way, it really opened my eyes.


Cameron | 15 comments Am I the only one that loves The Poet? Although self absorbed he was so dedicated to his art and belief in words as creation that he was willing to let hundreds of people get slaughtered to in a way create a whole new existence by destroying the old. It might be that I'm a Lit Theory nut but it has been my favorite chapter so far


Shannon | 8 comments Cameron wrote: "Am I the only one that loves The Poet? Although self absorbed he was so dedicated to his art and belief in words as creation that he was willing to let hundreds of people get slaughtered to in a wa..."

I can say that I loved the Poet's Tale... but I can't go so far as to say I love Martin Silenus. I thought this particular tale was well-written, interesting, and managed to walk the line between esoteric and approachable very well. I really enjoyed the discussions of art, the search for a muse, and the inherent selfishness/desperation of the artist and how that drives artistic expression. However, Silenus is completely unlikable. He is self-absorbed, selfish and unconcerned with consequences. Ultimately he's a coward.

I do however, relate completely to Sad King Billy. I love music, art, and literature but can't create any of it to save my life. I understand that desire to be part of a community that creates things, surrounded by people who have that creative spark, that magic something that he just will never have no matter how hard he tries.


Jules (juleske) | 56 comments I'll put in capitals to highlight my unique position ;) I F*CKING LOVE THE POET!

During the (to me) pretentious prologue, at every piece of dialogue from the poet I heaved a sigh of relief. His skeptical profanity was what got me through the chapter! He has some choice lines there as well: "As if we f*cking humans were ever motivated by human logic"

I enjoyed the Poet's tale. The description of his decadent house was a highlight, the interactions with his publisher another.

I liked that Silenus is (so far) the only one who reflects on society instead of just living in it. In particular I enjoyed his monologue about the stagnation of society 'where institutions change but little, and that by gradual evolution rather than revolution' (something I've heard said about our times as well).

I disliked his frequent mention of 20th century writers, but he threw some futuristic ones in for good measure. I loved his monologue about the Hyperion Cantos, which seems straight-up Dan Simmons’ monologue, and isn’t the Shrike muse to them both? The casualness with which he accepted deaths around him seemed to me the writer’s casualness to create characters with joys and wants and needs only to kill them off again when the story demands it.


message 13: by aldenoneil (new) - added it

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Jules wrote: "and isn’t the Shrike muse to them both?"

That's the linchpin right there; Simmons has played some wonderful authorial tricks in this chapter. One can't help but wonder, as others have mentioned, how much of him there is in Martin, and which of those parts he likes or dislikes.


message 14: by Karly (last edited May 10, 2012 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karly | 79 comments This chapter was so meta. At first I appreciated that this story was in first person because I couldn't understand why Kassad's was not. Now I know that Silenus (and Simmons), wouldn't have the point of view any other way. I like Silenus's language, but I thought his descriptions of himself as such a great poet were pretentious. And it was so self-referential in parts-- calling his masterpiece the Hyperion Cantos as an homage to Keats-- that I actually said, "we get it! We know!" And in chapter 1 I thought that the Bikura reminded me of the Eloi in the Time machine and even Simmons makes that reference. Too many references to other literature that nearly took me out of the story.

By the end of the chapter I liked Silenus more than I did before, but I still don't like him. So pretentious and selfish. He was mean to King Billy, his patron and "friend" as Silenus described himself. But I liked that he even realized that his Cantos was not his own talent or his own language. I thought for sure that someone so full of himself would claim that work until the day he died. I also liked that he became a hack to pay for his huge house; I didn't expect him to be genuinely self-deprecating.


Tiffany Scott (tjscott978) | 30 comments I have to agree with @Jules that I really enjoyed Silenus' little jabs throughout the beginning of the book. I think that his quips also helped me to get through the first chapter.
I think that he helped us to better understand the decadence and caviler nature of this society. One thing that really felt like a punch in the gut for me was that no one Reads in this society. That's something that I can't imagine and helped me to decide it wasn't a future that I would like to live in.
I have a hard time disliking Silenus. I think he is the only character that doesn't take himself seriously. He knows he's and ass and he accepts it. He isn't pretending to be anything other than what he is. A hack writer that essentially killed a bunch of people to become relavant.
I don't know if this is my favorite story so far and I don't know that I'm rooting for him to survive. Of the five stories that I have read so far I think that he is the one I can most relate to.


Terez (Terez07) | 81 comments The main reason I enjoyed the poet's tale was getting a little more background on King Billy. Surprisingly, he is one of the most intriguing characters thus far in the novel! I would love to read a prequel centered around his origin. Anyone else agree?


message 17: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark Catalfano (Cattfish) | 368 comments Boy, you guys look pretty deep into this poet stuff. I just saw a story where he made a monster appear somehow and lit a king on fire.

Skimming the surface indeed, I think I wind up having more fun ;)


Tamahome | 4617 comments Locus Roundtable just had a podcast on scifi poetry: http://www.locusmag.com/Roundtable/20...


message 19: by Will (new)

Will (longklaw) | 257 comments So far my least favorite tale. I don't like the poet at all.


James | 1 comments Going in I kind of felt like Silenus was a flat character. Although that is a really hard judgement to make. Like all of the characters before you get to their story I feel like I just didn't know him. I really clicked with his character when he talked about losing his vocabulary. For some reason that experience really sold him for me.

As for the end? Some people said some things that confused me earlier in this conversation. Someone said that they didn't like what he did with this muse and how he killed people. It was my reading of that section that Silenus was more mad than anything else and that his claim that he created the Shrike was just a misunderstanding through the eyes of a mad man.


Jules (juleske) | 56 comments As for the end? Some people said some things that confused me earlier in this conversation. Someone said that they didn't like what he did with this muse and how he killed people. It was my reading of that section that Silenus was more mad than anything else and that his claim that he created the Shrike was just a misunderstanding through the eyes of a mad man.

I thought that as well, but then the Shrike kept him alive over all people and showed up, so they must at least have shared that madness, right?


Cameron | 15 comments No matter how much I feel like I should, I just can't hate him. He is obviously not a likable character and in the midst of all the other characters who are much more likable I almost wonder why he is written this way. Is it that he needs such an ego to bring or believe the Shrike into being or is it just a critique on the pomposity of art itself?

I also wonder if his character has anything to do with the way that Simmons sees people in the world now seeing as how he is the only character from Old Earth.


Alterjess | 318 comments I don't think Silenus believes he created the Shrike, merely that he unleashed it.

I'm of two minds about his story. On the one hand, "I have writer's block" vs "My baby has six weeks to live" makes him seem like a giant selfish ass. On the other hand, we're reading the Hyperion Cantos because this character wrote them, and it is one of my favorite books.


Leesa (leesalogic) | 310 comments I liked the Poet's tale. I liked that he was so not like we expect poets to be, even the narrator made him sound rather common and simple.

The message I got out of it was that the Poet was the Shrike's bitch. (To play on what Gaiman posted when fans complained that GRRM was taking too long to finish the ASOIAF series.)


Justin Lance | 19 comments Add me to the tally of those that enjoyed the chapter but don't like the character.


Jules (juleske) | 56 comments The message I got out of it was that the Poet was the Shrike's bitch. (To play on what Gaiman posted when fans complained that GRRM was taking too long to finish the ASOIAF series.)

Teehee, I very much like that take :)


Frederick (xthawx) | 52 comments Like many others on the forums have said, I found the chapter a little of a struggle to work my way through - it is a more difficult read that the Soldier's tale that preceeds it by far. However, Simmons did use it well to expand on the technology that can be found in the universe.I agree with Suzanne above that the description of the house with the farcaster portals is fantastic. It made me think of a place with Stargates that link all the rooms together.

As for the poet himself, I would agree that, despite his struggles, he still comes off as being selfishly devoted to the production of his cantos, especially by the end with the murders in the City of Poets and the revalation that he is returning because the poem must be finished. It will be finished. However, as a character, I found him to be highly intellegent comic relief and I enjoyed the references to Keats, Beowulf, Shelley, Wells, and others that were found throughout his musings.


message 28: by Anne (last edited May 14, 2012 07:32AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Anne | 336 comments Stephen King's Dark Tower series also has a house with doors to other worlds.

Not a new idea...the idea even is visible in some tomb paintings in Egypt as well as the stonework.

False doors are a common element within Egyptian temples of the New Kingdom dedicated to their ancient gods, as well as much earlier mortuary temples dedicated to the deceased and within the tombs themselves (beginning with the 3rd Dynasty). They represented thresholds that allowed gods or the deceased to interact and link with the living world, and are most commonly associated with offering rituals. However, in New Kingdom temples they were also associated with the so-called "hearing" chapels, or chapels of the "hearing ear", which were usually located at the very rear of many temples directly behind the sanctuary in the outer walls of the temple structure. These "hearing ear" chapels gave those outside the temple access to their gods.

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestori...
And there is the door of the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis' Narnia stories.

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

As for Dark Tower... wiki says

The Dark Tower is a series of books written by American author Stephen King, which incorporates themes from multiple genres, including fantasy, science fantasy, horror and western. It describes a "gunslinger" and his quest toward a tower, the nature of which is both physical and metaphorical. King has described the series as his magnum opus. Besides the eight novels that compose the series proper, many of his other books relate to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses. After the series was finished, a series of prequel comics followed.

The series was chiefly inspired by the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning


The first Dark Tower book was published in 1982.

Sound familiar?


Casey Hampton (caseyhampton) | 652 comments I really liked this chapter. From its beginning to its conclusion, my appreciation for the poet grew. I found him much more based in reality than the others who have told their story up to this point. I don't quite understand why the poet is getting so much flack but to each their own I suppose.

As for Sad King Billy... Couldn't stand the guy and I was glad to see him go. While he may have dabbled in philanthropy, he was a slack-jawed toad who couldn't tow his own artistic line and felt the need to be around creative people in order to make his own miserable existence less sad. "Bye-bye Billy!"


message 30: by Zach (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zach Moore (zachms) | 13 comments I'm wondering how many of the people who didn't like Silenus also didn't care for Quentin in The Magicians. They're both pretty self centered and can be asses. I enjoyed both characters and a dig the cooky old man thing the poet has going on.

This chapter was way easier to get through than Kassad's, although I liked the finale of that one a bit more.


Frederick (xthawx) | 52 comments Zach wrote: "I'm wondering how many of the people who didn't like Silenus also didn't care for Quentin in The Magicians. They're both pretty self centered and can be asses. I enjoyed both characters and a dig t..."

I didn't read The Magicians (too late to the party there). However, I found Kassad's chapter an easier read that the Silenus' - perhaps it was the simulation of Agincourt at the beginning that enraptured me there. I'm a Brit and learnt about the battle at school. Ever since, it has been a point of interest for me.


message 32: by Ammar (new) - added it

Ammar (lajee212) | 1 comments I just finished the poets chapter and I can see how he might come across as self centered but in my opinion this add to the diversity of the group as a whole. Because honestly who wants to reader aout a group of traveler that never have any conflicting personalities.


Lepton | 176 comments I found the tale to be entirely self-indulgent horse crap. There's very little in the tale itself that moves the narrative forward save for portions near the immediate end of it.

I think it's pretty clear why many people found this chapter to be the breaking point as to whether to continue reading the book.


message 34: by Alex (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alex | 39 comments I like Beowulf and I like allusions to Beowulf.

I also don't understand why so many seem to have such a negative reaction to this chapter. I enjoyed it, thought it was engaging and thought provoking and inventive. I don't think one is really supposed to like the poet, or even identify with him. It's not the point. Tom made mention in the podcast that Hyperion seems to be a bit more high concept than many can stomach, but that doesn't mean it's boring or bad (or, necessarily, that it is good either...). Rather than asking "do I like or identify with this person?" (e.g. the poet), you might be better served if you asked "Is this person real? Is he true?" I feel that the poet is. He is a ****, but at least he's true.

If you want a MarySue, I'm sure you'll be able to find some Twilight fanfic that might suit you better.


Cameron | 15 comments If you want a MarySue, I'm sure you'll be able to find some Twilight fanfic that might suit you better.


HA!

I also don't understand why so many seem to have such a negative reaction to this chapter. I enjoyed it, thought it was engaging and thought provoking and inventive.

I agree with you though Alex. I really like the allusions to Beowulf and the idea of literature as a power or aspect of creation was really interesting. I understand why people may not like the poet but the theory, allusions, and ideas within that chapter are amazing to me.


message 36: by Rebecca (last edited May 16, 2012 11:38AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rebecca Mabe (Beckegirl) | 26 comments Cameron wrote: "Am I the only one that loves The Poet? Although self absorbed he was so dedicated to his art and belief in words as creation that he was willing to let hundreds of people get slaughtered to in a wa..."

Nope I loved him too! I was surprised when tom and veronica mentioned on the most recent podcast that a lot of people almost lemmed the book at the poet's story. The poet is who kept me hanging on; the soldier's story almost resulted in a lemm action. =0) Maybe I just like listening to my audible narrators say funny words.


message 37: by Anne (new) - rated it 1 star

Anne | 336 comments The general gist of the book is Biblical. "In the beginning was the word..."


Bradley (FertileSpade) I really enjoyed the chapter and all of the book so far. Simmons has done a fantastic job crafting each chapter so thatthe writing style fits that particular character. through his choice of vocabulary, sentence structure, and overall structure of each character's story something is communicated. Kassad's story is focused, tight, organized, with an emphasis on actions - just like a good soldier should be. Silenus' story rambles all over the place, is poorly organized, but uncovers essential truths of the human condition - much like the archetypal artist.

I don't care much for Silenus' vulgar language. I believed my Dad when he told me that an intellegent person can find better ways to communicate their feelings. But for the story Simmons is trying to tell it fits. Silenus chooses to use vulgar language because he believes it is more honest and he values the hard truths that many wish to gloss over or candy coat.


message 39: by Rob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rob | 4 comments I think you nailed it, FertileSpade. I completely agree with you about the author's use of styles, tone, and structure to communicate these stories.

Silenus chooses to use vulgar language because he believes it is more honest and he values the hard truths that many wish to gloss over or candy coat.
I'd say he doesn't just value hard truths, he revels in them; he uses vulgar language to push it in other people's faces, to make them (and the reader) uncomfortable. He's a bully and a jerk, but his walls are all external. I think he's the one who sees (and feels) the pain around him most clearly. When he's not distilling it into poetry, he's fending it off with abrasiveness and a mocking overhonesty.



message 40: by Rob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rob | 4 comments Aww man, clearly I don't have my tags down quite right yet. There was more to that... Let me try again:

Silenus doesn't just value hard truth, he revels in it: he uses vulgarity to push it in other people's faces. He's a bully and a jerk, but his walls are all external. I think he's the one who best sees (and feels) the pain around him, those hard truths he keeps pushing on others. When he's not distilling that pain into poetry, he's defending himself against it with abrasiveness and mocking overhonesty.


Bradley (FertileSpade) Rob wrote: "Aww man, clearly I don't have my tags down quite right yet. There was more to that... Let me try again:

Silenus doesn't just value hard truth, he revels in it: he uses vulgarity to push it in ot..."


Well said. The author of The Lies of Locke Lamora communicated something similar in his interview with T & V when they discussed why he chose to use cuss words. They communicate a gritty realism and truth to the human condition. So in my opinion, to have the stroke deconstruct his language and thenhave to rebuild it from a few cuss words that symbolize this gritty condition while in a setting of mud, and pollution that actually kills the individuals stuck in it is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!


message 42: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed (MyDiagonalLife) | 7 comments I absolutely identify with the Silenus. I too am a messy, self-destructive, disorganized artist who has poor self-control. Is Silenus vulgar? Yes. He prefers profane obscenity over mediocre courtesy. He prefers an interesting life to a polite one.

I also find all of the talk of his egotism confusing because I never got that vibe from him. What is it about his story that makes him any more self-involved than the others? He's also extremely honest about his life and his choices- he outlines a journey of self-actualization.

On another note, I absolutely love this line:

"But as long as the task is both onerous and repetitive, I discovered, the mind is not only free to wander to more imaginative climes, it actually flees to higher planes."

I can't agree enough. As a child, I delivered newspapers for three years. Ever since then I have secretly longed for the zen-like reverie that it provided for me to pursue works of creation in my mind. I've never heard this phenomenon described by another person.


Jules (juleske) | 56 comments Whoo, finally some Silenus love :)


David Sven (Gorro) | 1551 comments The change in style of writing threw me a little but I didn't mind the Poet. I thought it was hilarious that he starts out basically brain damaged with a vocabulary thats pretty much restricted to a few choice swear words. Dan Simmons has to be taking the piss out of himself plus other would be authors and the whole publishing industry?
The far caster house was cool too.


Sherry da Silva (smdasilva) | 15 comments Zach wrote: "I'm wondering how many of the people who didn't like Silenus also didn't care for Quentin in The Magicians. They're both pretty self centered and can be asses."

I think the difference for me was that Silenus knows he is an ass. I actually liked (but not loved) Silenus once I got to know him. Hated Quentin. I hate to lem anything but came very close with The Magicians. Trying to get back to it whereas I loved Hyperion and all the different voices.


message 46: by Matt (new) - added it

Matt Segur | 3 comments I found it incredibly amusing that Silenus loses his poetic ability through the commercial success of his Dying Earth series. I found myself wondering if this is in some way Simmons reflecting on his own work as Hyperion is also the first of a larger series of novels. Also the poet's story is the only one (so far) written in the first person.

I also found it curious that the first few paragraphs describing Silenius' new life as a successful writer married to Helenda is written in present tense unlike the rest of the story. It was a little jarring and I was struggling with the significance (if there is any intended).


message 47: by Chad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Chad Kohalyk (chadkoh) | 12 comments I was looking at this chapter with a bit of dread since so many people allegedly Lemmed the book after reading it. However, I found it to be the most entertaining chapter so far. We have covered religion/slavery, sex/violence, and now consumption/production. Martin builds himself up and destroys himself (or gets destroyed eg. the stroke) and then struggles to build himself up again. I think that says a lot about the cycle of creative people (and people in general). I loved all the references and I thought Simmons might have really showed his hand here, in terms of his personal literary influences. Anyone actually read Keats? The only thing I didn't find to be believable was that there would exist a massive publisher like Transline anywhere beyond the 21st century… ;-)


message 48: by aldenoneil (new) - added it

aldenoneil | 1000 comments Chad wrote: "The only thing I didn't find to be believable was that there would exist a massive publisher like Transline anywhere beyond the 21st century"

Yep, I thought the same thing when Martin's publisher's office was described as being at the top of the tallest tower in the city - especially since it's made clear that no one reads anymore.


Amanda | 19 comments I am WAY behind on Hyperion and haven't even finished the Poet's story yet, but I find it kind of interesting how he grows less abrasive for me as the story goes on. At the beginning of his tale, I couldn't stand him; but by the time he relates his first marriage beginning and ending, I actually starting to find him more interesting and nuanced. I can definitely see why a lot people lemmed the book during the Poet's story, though.


terpkristin | 2960 comments I just finished The Fall of Hyperion and I'll say that I like the poet much more after finishing it. I didn't hate him to the level some people did here, but still...


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The Magicians (other topics)
Hyperion (other topics)
The Fall of Hyperion (other topics)