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Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)
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2012 Reads > Hyp: So no one has read Lord of the Rings? (mildest of spoilers)

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message 1: by Scott (last edited Jun 03, 2012 07:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Scott (atariage) | 2 comments As a preface to what I write below, I actually do look forward to visiting again on the Sword and Laser forums - and I'm really enjoying the podcasts and the Geek & Sundry shows. This whole Hyperion topic just really got to me.

OK, since many, if not most, here have vented, I choose to vent as well.

For a first time visitor to Goodreads - specifically the Sword and Laser section - (I joined a while ago but only recently really checked it out), I'm discouraged by the commentary re: Hyperion.

Or at least the thought behind it.

And I'm not thinking of the commentary that simply didn't like the format, or the style of writing or of anything else that is a fair and reasonable debate over what particular way of writing one really goes for. That's normal and completely understandable.

No it's the lazy factor that galls me.

To summarize:

Here is a book (Hyperion), that is known and fully claimed by its author to have been artificially split in half by its publishers...

Which was published decades ago, with all its follow-up books - including the one that completed the half-book Hyperion - also published and readily available for anyone to read at will...

Exactly, as an aside, like an interesting read, called Lord of the Rings - well-known in some communities of readers, I believe - that was forced to be split into *3* books. (A tale, in itself, actually. And just like for Hyperion, possibly never revealed except by the author himself, and endless others as well)...

And yet...

It is eviscerated for being exactly as it was presented, a book forced to be completed in a separate publication - one which all have been free to read for decades.

I don't get it. Everyone was made quite clear that the book wasn't done until you finished the second artificially-created half. It was widely discussed on Sword and Laser and a wikipedia search would have also clued you in.

But, instead of understanding that, most decided to destroy it anyway on the basis of it being incomplete. Which can only make me think that either some were too lazy to read the finishing part of the story - OR - at least acknowledge that they knew they had to read the second book for a proper finish, but they simply didn't have time to and therefore, as expected, the story felt incomplete.

An analogy: this happens...

Person 1: Fellowship of the Ring SUCKED!!! They didn't even make it to Mordor. What Crap. Clearly this author has no end in mind for this aborted tale.

Person 2: Oh hell, I even gave that Tolkien Joker a second chance in The Two Towers - But did they deal with the Ring? No! They're still all just wandering and moaning with no end in sight.

Tell me when Sword and Laser talks about some *real* fantasy novels. (yeah, this particular anti-Hyperion comment, paraphrased here, really was a low point in the commentary)

Person 3: Er... have you read the concluding book, Return of the King? It's kind of a secret but Tolkien wanted to print all three as a single book but it was too expensive for the publishers. At any rate, it was published, like the rest, back in the 1950's. It really finishes the story quite nicely.

Persons 1 and 2: No! It sucks! I'll never read that hack Tolkien again.

Person 3: But really, the book is right there - look, just borrow my copy and-

Persons 1 and 2: No! It Sucks.

A shorter analogy...

Imagine if at the end of every single Battlestar Galactica episode, everyone watching screamed: "They f*&%ing haven't found Earth?!? Frak this show!"

No rational person can really comment on such a response without venting enormous amounts of frustration.

Which I have now done.


I apologize that this, my first post here, was a bit irritated.

For what it's worth, I have read and enjoyed most Neal Stephenson and loved most of his writing, including (after an initial warming period) that of the Baroque Cycle - which I've read twice, yet! Additionally, I've read a number of China Mieville books without, so far, wanting to punch anyone in the face.

So my views on many matters may differ from others here.

message 2: by Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth (last edited Jun 03, 2012 08:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1904 comments Your irritated post is forgiven (we all like a rant now and then) but I think it's a little unfair to a lot of the people who commented against the ending.

From my point of view the difference between the ending of Fellowship vs Hyperion is that the ending to Fellowship was actually good. I was really interested in that part of the story, and when I finished the book there was no question of not reading The Two Towers. The ending of Hyperion (yes, I know it wasn't initially intended for an ending, but, nevertheless, the book did end there) felt very low key, included disappointing resolutions to things that had formally excited and interested me, things that could have drawn me towards the next book, and left me without much enthusiasm to read any more. I think that is why a lot of people were dissatisfied, not simply that the story didn't finish. Plus, other people didn't end the book at all, and the ending didn't do anything to make them change their minds - we all like different things, so liking and disliking are equally valid. :)

Anyway, hope your rant was nice and cathartic for you! :D

David Sven (gorro) | 1582 comments @Scott - It would be so boring here if there was not some ranting. And some people do take themselves way to seriously so need a good dig in the side. Passionate discussion is better than everyone agreeing with each other.

Oh btw - I do agree with you.

Linguana | 148 comments I read Hyperion at the end of last year (which is why I didn't join the reading group here) and I was warned beforehand that it's only half the story. So the cliffhanger didn't bother me. I knew it was coming.

Still haven't read the second book though, not because I was pissed off about the ending of Hyperion but simply because I needed a break from Simmons. I have rarely been as torn about whether I loved or hated a book as I have been here.

But I agree with your wonderful rant - you shouln't judge half a book as if it were a whole. Sure, if you hated the style, the second book is probably going to suck for you as well, no matter how nicely it wraps up the story.

I superlike your LOTR analogy btw.

terpkristin | 4188 comments Welcome, Scott! We all like a good rant now and then...and some healthy, non-mean disagreements.

You've joined this group at an interesting time--the group itself is changing quite a bit, and the last 2 books we've read have been rather polarizing. With Hyperion in particular it seems that we had a member who was quite vocal about it in every thread that exists (well, mostly). I agree with you, it's a bit silly to fault Hyperion for its "ending" since it was a publisher call to split it. That's not to say the book doesn't have its flaws (it does). But I (and many others here) quite enjoyed it.

I will say, having been a member here for a loooong time, having seen a couple iterations of "new member rushes," it helps to have a healthy appreciation of sarcasm in this group. >:)

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1904 comments terpkristin wrote: "We all like a good rant now and then...and some healthy, non-mean disagreements."

Indeed indeed! :D

message 7: by Scott (last edited Jun 04, 2012 09:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Scott (atariage) | 2 comments @Ruth - Certainly, like I said, anyone who simply didn't like the writing, the narrative, characters, story trajectory, etc, clearly are not those that got me riled up. That's just normal opinions about what people like in writing.

Re: the ending... Being nearly done with Fall of Hyperion, I feel that the editorial decision to split it in half was far more rough for Hyperion than to LOTR.

What helped LOTR is that it was already designed with six "books" in structure. So even splitting it into Books 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6, the breaks came at a planned ending - and seemed to be a reasonable stop point.

With Hyperion, I felt that it was all meant to be one flowing story - clearly evolving in very non-obvious ways. And so breaking it off in the middle comes off as unnatural if you didn't simply pick up the next chapter and keep reading. Even then, though, it's not a clear and simple read. It's bound to not row many people's boats.

@David - yeah, I totally like the passionate discussion. The "it wasn't a nice tidy ending" argument is one of the very few story arguments that just annoys me a wee bit, especially in a story that is meant to continue. If all the comments had simply been about writing style, etc, I wouldn't have raised a peep.

So, actually, maybe it's a good thing that it made me finally join in a bit :D

@linguana - I can totally see needing a break from Simmons. For me it's only that the whole Shrike-related narratives - especially the Tree - really is starting to freak me out a bit. I think I'll need to fire up some Hitchhiker's after this, just to cleanse the palate!

@terpkristen - Ah, I wonder if the debut on Geek and Sundry has pushed in a new group of people (like me) and that's contributing to the change? Probably normal. Seen it elsewhere (political community sites, etc, etc).

As for appreciation of sarcasm... I look forward to trying to detect it LOL. Some are quite good with text sarcasm, but in general, sarcasm and pure text on the web go together like mustard and fruit loops. All you want to do is spit the whole bad mix out and eat a ring ding.

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1904 comments Haha! I don't know what a ring ding is, or fruit loops for that matter, but nevertheless, I LOVE that analogy.

The need for a sarcasm font is ever with us. Personally, I like to assume that every sentence that agrees with me is completely honest, and every sentence that disagrees with me is said sarcastically because the writer actually thinks I'm right. I've been using this method for a while, and so far it seems that everyone thinks I'm wonderful. :D

message 9: by Cat (new) - rated it 1 star

Cat | 2 comments I'm new, and found the group because of geek and sundry.

I did not know the book was split prior to reading it. Yes, I could have researched it, but not needing to search out books is precisely what I like about the idea of a book club.

It's not just that the book was split. Yes, LOTR was split, but I felt like each half book (1-6) was a fairly complete story in and of itself. Also, I wanted to know what happened to the characters. Tolkien succeeded in getting me to invest.

I feel like Hyperion fails, because I struggled to care about the characters at all. Adding to that that it is a long read and I was horribly disappointed by the ending, and the result is that I have no desire to read anymore. I feel as though I've wasted enough time on a story that doesn't appeal to me.

I'd rather reread all the Game of Thrones books and enjoy the time spent than suffer another hour in the Hyperion universe.

message 10: by Nick (last edited Jun 05, 2012 06:32PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick (whyzen) | 1295 comments I have a compulsion to research most anything I'm interested in ( at least to the point of doing a quick Wikipedia look-up or Google search).

So I knew Hyperion was only half a book. I just finished "Fall of Hyperion" and I was overwhelmingly "meh'd". Don't get me wrong. Its not a bad book. It just didn't impress me. And (view spoiler)

message 11: by Rik (last edited Jun 07, 2012 06:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rik | 777 comments @Nick . . . .your concern about what the story is turning into is true but different as its going to be a lot different than most of these types of stories. I'm not actually going to spoil much of anything that happens in the last two books for you other than to explain in a non spoilerish way how its different. I'm only putting it in spoiler text because you did: (view spoiler)

message 12: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric | 5 comments Up to this point I've also just been a lurker. However, as a long-time fan of Hyperion, I also feel the need to make sense of the vitriol that appeared here. Rather than condemn people for their honest opinions, I wanted to think about why people were so dismissive of one of my favorite sci-fi series.

I'm not sure Lord of the Rings is the best comparison, partially for reasons that people have mentioned but more for reasons that I will bring up in a moment. I know it seems an easy match, but I think the "it's long but split" issue isn't actually what's caused the trouble for most people. Some claim that that's the problem, but it's clear to me that the abrupt ending was just the cap on a buildup of complaints. I think the greater issue is the balance that has been mentioned elsewhere of "character vs. world."

In many ways, Hyperion belongs to a different mode of science fiction novel, and Simmons to a different mode of science fiction author. You can't read him like you read Lois McMaster Bujold, for instance. Bujold is extremely character-driven and very smart about people. Simmons is setting-driven and very smart about other things. (I'm not going to go into detail on what, since it's not my main point here and would only derail the conversation before it could even start.)

So when considering an appropriate comparison, I go to other novels and series that were written in a similar way. The best comparison that I can come up with for Hyperion is Asimov's Foundation. The Foundation trilogy works similarly to the onion-peeling of the Hyperion series, and it also is less focused on character than it is on setting and slowly-revealed plot. If you did not like Foundation, I completely understand that you would not like Hyperion.

Now, I personally have many reasons that I enjoy the characters in Hyperion, but it's not because they are "likable." (Likable characters don't really appear until the Endymion books.) It is because they effectively pose an interesting set of moral and philosophical problems. But if that's not what you're looking for, then you won't enjoy this book. Because of that, my second comparison is actually to The Martian Chronicles. Both Asimov and Bradbury constructed several of their novels out of compiled short stories with common threads. Because of this, individual characters tend to be devices for presenting the world (to paraphrase a complaint someone posted about Hyperion). If you are attached to character development, this will not appeal to you. I wonder if the people who did not like Hyperion also did not care for The Martian Chronicles.

I'm not necessarily saying that if you like Foundation and The Martian Chronicles you will automatically like Hyperion, but I wanted to use this thread to speculate about that correlation. Feel free to prove or disprove my theory.

James | 5 comments Interestingly enough, Eric, I loved Hyperion but couldn't really get into the Foundation series. You make many very good points here. I think it helps to be a recovering English major if you're looking to enjoy Hyperion. The Keats references got me going every time. If there's a weakness in the ending, I think it has less to do with the Epilogue (which I think is what most of the commenters here are referencing) and more to do with the fact that the Consul's story is probably the least engaging of the six stories. The Consul does a lot of heavy-lifting at the end in terms of making the overarching plot clear (or at least a little more clear), but it lacks the strong, viseral, horror elements of the Priest's Tale or the Poet's Tale or the emotional pull of the Scholar's Tale.

message 14: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric | 5 comments I can certainly see the literature connection as well. One of my friends is heavily into ancient Greek history and just flipped over Ilium and Olympos. However, those books are very dense and I would not recommend them to just anybody.

I agree with your points about the Consul's tale, although oddly enough I didn't see many people complaining about it here. If they had, I would have understood. But yes, although it is important in terms of the metaplot, that importance isn't entirely clear if you stop at the end of this book.

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1904 comments Eric wrote: "I agree with your points about the Consul's tale, although oddly enough I didn't see many people complaining about it here. If they had, I would have understood."

In my perhaps poorly named 'who felt let down by the ending' thread, the ending, in my mind, was the Consul's tale, followed by the epilogue, both of which did a poor job of leading me excitedly towards the second book. Remie mentioned in that thread that Remembering Siri was a short story that inspired Hyperion, which I think could have something to do with the way the Consul's tale felt a little wedged in and flawed.

message 16: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric | 5 comments And as I said, I can understand that complaint. In many ways, the last story is too reflective to raise the tension, but like the rest of the book it is also too uninformative to resolve anything.

In my view, Hyperion does a very good job of raising many questions and answering few. Some of those questions are about the characters, but most of them are about the universe and the metaplot. That's why I compare it to Foundation. But if you're not interested in the questions, Hyperion does not make a very good stand-alone book. And if you're not interested in the questions, Remembering Siri is not going to grab you at all. But in terms of the whole series, it sets up several very important points of context for later. Structurally, Simmons had to put it where he did, but because the book was forced to end there it does seem weak.

Paul R | 43 comments oh god I love the Rant! - especially with the LOTR twist- only thing missing is when someone reads the book and says- my copy is wrong - the movie had elves fighting at Hammerhand!

hyperion is a bit rougher to get through granted- you could not go to the end of the book like LOTR and look something up.

but we do live in the world of computers ......

message 18: by Walrus (last edited Jun 15, 2012 09:43PM) (new)

Walrus | 80 comments Researching books that have been in print for ages, because a publisher did something creepy to an author, I don't know if I agree with having to research it. I agree with Cat.

Sorry to raise a standard, I'm not trying to. The Sword and Laser team do a find job and as far as we can tell no one from their staff is on here telling us what to do.

I think after all these years the books should have been retitled Hyperion Part I, and the second book sorry I don't know the title, so Title Hyperion Part II

message 19: by Craig (last edited Jun 17, 2012 09:47PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Craig | 31 comments As I stated in another thread, I don't mind a cliffhanger. I completely understood/got that it was a split book (without knowing the history of the books at all.)

What offended me was the breaking of established character traits for an overly cute ending. The whole book is one of mystery, revenge, tragedy, doom, and gloom. Everyone except the Poet is reserved. Then everyone is ready set everything aside and go against character for a sing-a-long. THAT is what ruined the book for me. And no amount of historical research is going to prepare you for that unless you are prepared to read spoilers...and if that is the case, what's the point in reading the book?

message 20: by Walrus (new)

Walrus | 80 comments +Craig exactly. Why do we read. What makes a book something y'all want to read?

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