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Hyperion by Dan Simmons
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Hyperion (original 1989; edition 1990)

by Dan Simmons

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6,396127605 (4.23)193
Member:gadif
Title:Hyperion
Authors:Dan Simmons
Info:Spectra (1990), Mass Market Paperback, 481 pages
Collections:My Best Recomendations (unowned)
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Work details

Hyperion by Dan Simmons (1989)

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    corporate_clone: It is difficult not to compare Dune and Hyperion, even though both series have major differences in terms of tone, style and philosophy. Those are two long, epic, elaborate and very ambitious sci-fi masterpieces where religion plays a key role. I would highly recommend the fans of one to check out the other.… (more)
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» See also 193 mentions

English (118)  Italian (3)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (127)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
I read somewhere that Hyperion's structure was intentionally meant to mimic the structure of The Canterbury Tales. Perhaps that's true, but there are few similarities between the bawdy stories and morality tales of Chaucer and the science-fiction novellas of Simmons. Instead the only thing that is mimicked is the structure, with a frame narrative and separate characters providing the stories that make up the bulk of the book- and the fact that both books lack a resolution. This use of a frame narrative around a collection of short stories can be used to fantastic effect, as in Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, for instance, but here the lack of payoff to the frame narrative not only harms the overall story, it also harms a few of the individual novellas as well.

The novellas themselves range in quality. The first is perhaps the best, a great tale of faith set in the alien outback of Hyperion, culminating in something actually scary. The second is fun space war pulp, that raises questions that you would expect the frame narrative to deliver on later. The third tale is a bit boring, and comes from the mouth of the most annoying character. The fourth tale is a moving story of fatherhood that shows how science fiction can be used to effectively explore the trials of life. The fifth tale is a science fiction noir story, which in execution is nothing special despite its attempt to flip or subvert tropes of the noir genre. The sixth and final tale is the weakest of the lot, a story where the timeline skips around and that ends with a huge and poorly done info-dump. Then the novel ends, without the frame narrative being resolved. This leaves the preceding novellas unresolved as well; only the first works as a standalone story with a satisfying resolution.

Originally I thought that the novellas would all explore a human desire subverted into something terrible. The first story deals with immortality, the second with great fighting skill, the third with inspiration, the fourth with becoming young again. All of these are things mankind has yearned for at some point, but every story gives us a conception of those desires being granted in a way that makes the cost too high. This is an interesting theme, and could culminate in the Shrike as some sort of avatar of man's self-destructive desires. Instead the fifth and sixth novellas don't follow this pattern, and the Shrike goes completely unexplained.

Since we aren't given an ending the themes and messages of this book remain unclear, as does the plot itself. This lack of resolution harms the book, and retroactively undermines several of the novellas. The first and fourth stories are worth reading. The rest are nothing special. As such this book gets 3 stars. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
First published in 1989, Hyperion has a similar structure to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. Very simplistically the story revolves around a diverse group of pilgrims who have been sent by the Church of the Final Atonement and the Hegemony (the government of the human star systems) to the Time Tombs on the planet of Hyperion.

After reading around half of this book, I have to admit that I just couldn't finish it (I actually skimmed through the last half of the book); I’ll briefly explore why.

The first issue I had surrounded the way it is arranged; it’s basically a number of short stories merged together with some loose linkage and sadly, this just wasn't the sort of framework that generated an enormous amount of excitement for me. However as I had read so many reviews saying how awesome the book actually was I thought I’d give it a go. I’d also listened to a concept album by Manticora called Hyperion based on the first book which sparked my interest too.

Another problem I had was that Simmons delights in describing situations, people, places, and things in general. Fantastic world building and background for sure, but in my view it adds little to the overall plot. I’m sure that the vast majority of readers will appreciate this and be drawn into the richly described world thereby bonding in some way with the events that unfold. For me these descriptions just slowed the story down. Rather than making each scene thrilling I felt that this, in conjunction with its wide-ranging use of ideas from the likes of Keats (the title "Hyperion", is taken from a Keats's poem), Chardin and Wiener (to name but a few), hugely decelerated the whole narrative.

The other concern I had was with the characters themselves. Every nuance, every minor mannerism and characteristic of every person was examined and explained. Were these critical to moving the story forward? Probably not. While the tales they told were all different I lost a sense of who was actually delivering the story at times and found there were several plot holes which were all covered by blaming previous characters who had apparently narrated the story incorrectly.

Throughout the book we get lengthy plot explaining speeches and the output of the research conducted by Simmons, for example, on Keats which is infodumps onto the reader.

Even reaching the halfway point in the book took some effort and in summary, I felt that if the word count had been halved then it would have made for an eminently more enjoyable read.
( )
  Rob.Thompson | Nov 22, 2014 |
I liked Simmons' take on time and space, especially the geopolitics and social implications of relativity. Some of my quibbles with this book might be due to the fact that I listened to the audiobook, which had uneven narration (why doesn't Steven Pacey read every book ever?). The thing that I disliked the most was the stiffness of the language, which seems overly formal or not suited towards the first-person and personal narration that the framing device requires. For example, oral accounts of action sequences are relayed in bizarrely specific detail (esp in the Soldier and Detective chapters):

"Queue got the first blow in, feinting a straight-fingered jab with his left hand and coming up and around with a swinging kick instead. I ducked but he connected solidly enough to make my left shoulder and upper arm go numb. Queue danced backward. I followed. He swung a close-fisted right-handed punch. I blocked it. He chopped with his left hand. I blocked with my right forearm. Queue danced back, whirled, and unleashed a left-footed kick. I ducked, caught his leg as it passed over, and dumped him on the sand. Queue jumped up. I knocked him down with a short left hook. He rolled away and scrambled to his knees. I kicked him behind his left ear, pulling the blow enough to leave him conscious."

It did not make me feel like I was on the Sea of Grass listening to a detective tell me why she was with me on Hyperion.

But by the end I was interested in listening to book two! And here I go! ( )
  behemothing | Oct 25, 2014 |
The vignettes are very powerful; I really wanted to learn more, particularly about the "Catholic" tribe.

Ending was unsatisfying ... but naturally I want to read the sequel. ( )
  in30minutes | Sep 25, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dan Simmonsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ahokas, JuhaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruddell, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This is for Ted
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The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-Sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below. (Prologue)
The Consul awoke with a peculiar headache, dry throat, and sense of having forgotten a thousand dreams which only periods in cryogenic fugue could bring.
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Several translations of the Hyperion series were published as multiple volumes There are no equivalent English volumes. Do not combine these with any works other than the equivalent partial volume in another language.

The ISBNs here are not always correctly matched up to the books. Use both the title and ISBN to figure out what the actual work is. Also note that the title sometimes contains the volume number in the entire Hyperion series (with or without multiple parts).
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Haiku summary
Pilgrims share secrets
while flying to strange planet.
First book in series.
(sullijo)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553283685, Mass Market Paperback)

On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

A stunning tour de force, this Hugo Award-winning novel is the first volume in a remarkable new science fiction epic by the author of The Hollow Man.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:58 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

On the night before Armageddon, seven people set out on a pilgrimage to Hyperion's Valley of the Time Tombs, where the creature Shrike awaits them.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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