30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2004
This classic work has so much to recommend it that it’s difficult to know where to start. Its overall reference to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – in that seven pilgrims each tell their tale as they journey toward their goal – is only one facet of a novel rich with literary reference and wryly judged future historical perspective.
At one point, Martin Silenus the poet tells of his great work ‘The Dying Earth’ the title of which, he points out, was taken from an old earth novel. In the same section his literary agent tells of the realities of book-marketing in the Twenty-Ninth Century. Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ she tells him, is permanently in print, although no-one actually reads it. The poet blithely asks who Hitler was.
No doubt Jack Vance, and many other readers who picked up on the reference to his Nineteen Fifties novel, will be amused at the idea of Vance novels being remembered in an age where Hitler is a name known only to those in the rarefied strata of academia.
The pilgrims have been chosen by the Church of the Shrike to make the pilgrimage to the Time Tombs of Hyperion and petition the Shrike, an alien godlike creature bristling with metal horns and claws.
Each pilgrim tells his tale of why they think they were chosen to take the pilgrimage and in doing so, slowly fill in the backstory of this Hegemony of Worlds, of Hyperion itself and the mysterious Shrike.
Each tale fills in a piece of the jigsaw puzzle depicting complex galactic politics in which it is difficult to judge who are the players and who are the pawns.
A cabal of AIs form the Technocore which seceded from human control centuries ago, although they still manage the web of farcaster portals which link the worlds of the Hegemony, and the Allthing which is, in essence, a futuristic internet. The AIs have their own reasons for being very interested in Hyperion, its network of alien labyrinths and the Time Tombs, to which they believe something is travelling back in time from the future.
Structurally, thematically, stylistically this book is a marvel. Each tale has a distinct voice and its own magic, and each is tied into a seamless whole.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2011
I am not a science fiction fan. There I said it. For some reason, as much as I adore Star Wars as soon as space or any techno babble is mentioned, I switch off and my eyes glaze over. I have never understood it because I love the idea of stories set in space and uninhabited worlds. I have found that whenever I have tried to embrace the genre, the book are needlessly littered with complicated instruments and equipment that makes you feel you are reading a textbook to a complicated computer rather than enjoying a novel.
Despite this irrational hatred towards science fiction, one book I always felt I should try is Hyperion. Having read and loved the Terror by Simmons, I knew that the man could write and write well. I had purchased the book ages ago and I was just waiting for the inspiration to strike me to start reading. This month said inspiration struck.
After the first couple of pages I thought I had made a mistake. There was techno babble in abundance and try as I might I struggled to engage with it. This all changed once the pilgrims began to tell their stories.
For any of you that don't know, Hyperion follows a similar format to the Canterbury Tales. 6 strangers are thrown together and seem to have a common goal. They decide in order to achieve this goal they need to understand their pasts. What follows is essentially a collection of short stories tied together by the same goal.
Each of these stories vary in style and tone. Simmons expertly provides individual voices to each character and makes you care for them. Some of these stories are excellent. The standouts for me are the Priest's tale and the Scholar's tale. Not surprisingly these two are the least sci-fi esque of the 6 but the other four stories (Soldier's tale, Poet's tale, Detective's tale and the Scholar's tale) are all compelling, as is the Shrike, the mythical creature they all set out to meet or destroy.
Has Hyperion made me more inclined to read sci-fi? Yes and no. I really enjoyed this book but there were times when I felt my mind wandering during the mention of various ships and weapons. Having said that, I will definitely be reading the sequel - it is impossible not too after the cliff hanging ending.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
In Hyperion we follow seven pilgrims as they move towards the Shrike Temple on the planet Hyperion.
Initially we know little of how the seven came together, why each of them is on a personal pilgrimage, and why the Shrike Temple is significant.
As they journey, they agree to tell their own reasons for the pilgrimage, and thus we get a series of short stories, or vignettes, where we learn the background of each individual. And in doing so, we learn more of the universe in which they live.
There is a bigger story here, a greater canvas on which these icons have been painted, but we only learn part of it - the rest is saved for the sequel - The Fall of Hyperion.
[As an aside, there are four books in total - in addition to the two I have mentioned, we have Endymion and the Rise of Endymion. In reality, it is two pairs of books - the Endymion books are set 250 years later and with a mostly new cast, although knowledge of the earlier books vastly aids their enjoyment. Reading the Fall of Hyperion greatly adds to Hyperion itself, but you can stop there if you wish. Endymion is a new venture - albeit a fabulous one.]
Dan Simmons writes with impressive clarity - while other authors hide behind jargon, Simmons keeps it real and in doing so gives you a clear visual image of his universe. And it is that writing style that makes this a light and pacy read, without losing any of the depth of content.
As a stand alone book, this can seem a disjointed read, but still a worthwhile one. Viewed together with the sequels, it is a wonderful achievement, and one of the great sci-fi classics.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Few books come as universally-applauded in the genre as this one. It was getting to the point where people seemed to be questioning my fitness to blog about SF since I hadn't read Hyperion, so I thought it was time to take the plunge. For those likewise ignorant of the book, Hyperion is the first in a four-volume sequence known as The Hyperion Cantos, consisting of Hyperion (1989), The Fall of Hyperion (1990), Endymion (1996) and The Rise of Endymion (1997). The sequence is heavily influenced by both the poetry of John Keats and the work of Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales is the clear structural inspiration behind the first novel.
The 28th Century. A war is brewing between the Hegemony of Man and the Ousters, a race of 'barbaric' humans living in arkships drifting in the depths of space. As the war drums sound, seven individuals are summoned to the remote frontier world of Hyperion by the Church of the Shrike, the godlike entity who roams that world killing people for unknown reasons or hanging their still-living forms on its giant mechanical tree. As the seven pilgrims journey through space to Hyperion, then on a gruelling ground journey across the planet even as the Hegemony and Ousters do battle in orbit, they tell each other the tale of how they came to this place and the reason for their interest in Hyperion and the Shrike.
It's a pretty straightforward structure, and indeed the book comes across as a collection of linked short stories with a prominent framing sequence. What is unusual is that Simmons varies his style slightly between each story, so the Priest's Tale is a mystery (albeit a mystery enlightened by electricity-spewing trees); the Soldier's Tale is a war story; the Poet's Tale is one of hubris; the Scholar's Tale is an almost heartbreaking tragedy; the Detective's Tale is a thriller; and the Consul's Tale is a romance told across decades. Simmons' writing skills here are extraordinary, with some stunning imagery and moments of emotional intensity transmitted through clear-cut but often evocative prose. Each story is a contained narrative in itself, but also contributes to the whole.
Hyperion (*****) is simply unmissable for anyone interested in the genre.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2007
I can't believe "Hyperion" has not yet been reviewed. In my mind ( and several of my friends) Hyperion is the beginning of the best sci-fi series ever. It is wonderful! The first of the four, Hyperion, opens with a description of a very odd pilgrimage, and moves on to space opera. The characters are beautifully described. Each has their own short story as to why they should be there (and some of these shorts are prize-winners in their own right). I was gripped from the start. This book is epic in its scope, and magnificent in its ambition. I was forced to scour the world for the remaining 3 in the series having finished it. It combines drama, action, love, loss, and faith in one glorious blend. You will love it. The rest of the series is great too. An emotional roller coaster which will keep you gripped to the end.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the second book of Dan Simmons' 'Hyperion Cantos', and the conclusion to the story begun in the award winning 'Hyperion'.
On the small scale, the Shrike pilgrims have told their stories, and have arrived at the mysterious time tombs to await their fate. On the larger scale, the Hegemony of Man faces the threat of mass invasion from the genetically-enhanced Ousters.
If you've not read the first book in this series, 'Hyperion', then this won't mean much to you. Reading that book is essential to understanding this one - the two form a single large volume, and neither can be read as a stand-alone story.
This book is slightly less literary than it's predecessor, although a resurrected form of John Keats does feature as a major character, and thus continues the theme of the first book. It's not necessary to know anything about Keats to enjoy this work, although it's added richness for those that do.
A greater focus is placed on the actual story started in the first book, rather than continuing the way the first book disjointed the overarching story with the minutiae of why the pilgrims were travelling to the Shrike. It's a more flowing narrative, therefore, and benefits from it. Hyperion was an interesting way to tell the back-stories of the protagonists, but it's appropriate to come away from that style in the follow-up, and adopt the more conventional narrative style to show how their stories play out.
The Fall of Hyperion is a compelling novel of sacrifice in the face of adversity. The two Hyperion books together make a fantastic example of what can be acheived in the sci-fi genre, bringing it down from the hard sci-fi level to a much more compasionate human one. And the best part is that these books set the scene for the second two books in this series - Endymion and the Rise of Endymion - which are simply the finest books ever written in this genre.
Read all four, and thank me later!
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The Fall of Hyperion is part two of the four-part Hyperion Cantos.
In Hyperion we met seven pilgrims on their journey to the Time Tombs of the Shrike. We heard their stories - distinct and vivid stories with little overlap, except that they all ended up on the Shrike pilgrimage just as war threatened to envelop the Hegemony.
The Fall of Hyperion begins as where Hyperion leaves off - the Time Tombs are opening and the Ousters are on the verge of attack.
I will resist any temptation to reveal the plot, but I will say that the Fall manages to explain an awful lot. Hyperion introduces various loose ends in terms of technology, key players and history. Rather than neatly ignore these, as most authors do, Simmons hits them head-on in the Fall and in doing so weaves a very credible story.
The two books are a natural pair, although they do work better as distinct novels rather than a single large tome, and are an excellent read. Highly recommended and amongst the best sci-fi I have read in the last 5 years.
Still not convinced?
Okay, there is more. Much more.
Hyperion sets the scene for Endymion and the Rise of Endymion - the completion of the four novel saga. The Endymion books are quite extraordinary - they are profound, absorbing and truly moving, and they set Simmons apart as one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
To read Endymion you need to read Hyperion and the Fall of Hyperion. Click to purchase!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Fall of Hyperion is the second novel in the four-volume Hyperion Cantos, although it does effectively resolve the storylines opened up in Hyperion. When the first book ended, the pilgrims had arrived at the Valley of the Time Tombs on Hyperion where each was supposed to confront the Shrike and petition it for a wish. However, one of their number, Het Masteen, had vanished without a trace. At the same time, the 'barbarian' Ousters are launching a massive assault on the Hyperion system which the Hegemony of Man's space fleet, FORCE, has proven unable to repulse. All eyes in the Hegemony turn to the Hyperion system where the fates of billions will be decided.
The novel proceeds along two parallel paths. In the first, we see events unfolding on Hyperion as the surviving pilgrims explore the Time Tombs. In the second, we follow Hegemony CEO Gladstone as she plans the defence of the Hegemony of Man against both the Ousters and the AI TechnoCore, humanity's extremely unreliable ally. Both storylines are related through a second 'cybrid' based on the poet Keats, who is telepathically linked to Brawne Lamia, one of the pilgrims on Hyperion, and has also been called into the advise the CEO.
Fall of Hyperion is therefore a somewhat different book to the first. Much bigger and more explosive events are depicted than in the first book. This is definitely a less character-intense book, although it could be argued that the original Hyperion did such a good job of defining the characters we don't really need to delve further into their skulls. Fall of Hyperion is, however, more action-packed and much faster paced, developing into a real page-turner as the book proceeds. In particular, Gladstone becomes a fascinating character, her decisions at the end of the book likely to doom her to infamy for all time, despite the necessity of her actions.
There are a few more problems than there were with Hyperion. The Keats angle in the first novel was interesting and allowed Simmons to explore his obvious love of the poet quite thoroughly. However, having a second Keats avatar pretty much relate the entire story of the second novel is a massive overkill. If you have no interest in the poet, there are long stretches of this second novel that are just extremely tedious. Also, after the massive build-up to galactic apocalypse with the promise of billions dying and humanity falling into a huge dark age, the ramifications of 'the fall' are seriously downplayed. Perhaps the next book in the series, Endymion, which picks the narrative up some 200 years later, will do a better job of expanding on this, but it feels like Simmons pulled his punches at the end of the book.
That said, Fall of Hyperion is an enjoyable, at times gripping science fiction novel and a worthy sequel to Hyperion. Well recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Fall of Hyperion (another Keats inspired title) carries the story from the previous Dan Simmons' novel, 'Hyperion'. In the latter, we left our pilgrims as they were walking, arm in arm, towards the Time Tombs, singing 'We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz'.
"Fall" is written in a more traditional structure, breaking away from the Canterbury Tales-like pilgrim narration; it wouldn't have been feasible to write another book in that style, I suppose, but it loses a bit in impact. But nevermind, because by the time you get to "Fall" you'll want to keep reading and find out what's happening to our heroes.
Just like in 'Hyperion', "Fall" is literally peppered with references to Keats - so much so that it made me rediscover the poet's body of work and I've even purchased Andrew Motion's definitive biography 'Keats'! But I'm digressing.
It's difficult to review this novel without spoiling it for potential readers; what I can say is that this is no ordinary sci-fi novel: it's much, much more. There's literature, philosophy, mysticism, so many elements entwined throughout the narrative, making it so appealing to readers like me who - until 'Hyperion' - didn't 'do' sci-fi as a literary genre.
One final warning: the book is part of a tetralogy, so although the story ends here, the world carries on in Endymion and Rise of Endymion. Time to get reading again...
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2006
"The Fall of Hyperion" is truly masterful and riveting. Told in a more conventional, linear fashion than "Hyperion", this narrative focuses on the government of the Web and its leader, Meina Gladstone, as observed by Joseph Severn, a cybernetic re-creation of the poet John Keats, as well as the seven Shrike pilgrims, who may affect the war's outcome. Simmons pits good against evil, with the religions of man and those of the machines battling for supremacy. The Time Tombs are opening and the pilgrims all must confront the Shrike in their own way. Many of the answers to our questions are answered, and I loved every minute of the unveiling. And yet there are unanswered questions: Where DID the Shrike come from? What will become of the hegemony now that interstellar travel has changed so drastically? This is truly wonderfully grand science fiction with a literary nod to the poet John Keats.