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What We’re Reading: Hyperion

Post by Christine Wells
Posted in NoveList Bookshelf, NoveList Plus

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Hyperion

by Dan Simmons

“Evolution brings human beings. Human beings, through a long and painful process, bring humanity.”

Dan Simmons' Hyperion is a well-paced, plot heavy story with thoughtful characterization, vivid world-building and the genuinely thought-provoking speculation that is one of the main draws of science fiction. And he has also given us one of the most iconic science fiction creatures of the twentieth century, the metallic nemesis of our protagonists and all organic life forms, the Shrike.

Hyperion borrows its structure from The Canterbury Tales, following a group of pilgrims as they make their way to the Time Tombs, where legend has it that one pilgrim will be granted a wish while the others will be doomed to die at the hand of the Shrike. On their way, they tell each other their stories, explaining their reasons for risking death to join the pilgrimage. Rather than a linear narrative, we're presented with a series of compelling stories that offer small clues about the mysterious planet and its Time Tombs. The story that stood out for me was definitely the opening tale, which recounted the journals an exiled priest who disappeared after arriving on Hyperion to study the mysterious and isolated tribe known as the Bikura.

The stories aren't all necessarily equals in terms of quality or appeal, but with their impressive range, I'd feel comfortable recommending this novel to almost anyone, whether a science fiction reader or not. Ultimately, Hyperion is about coping with passage of time, and that has fairly universal appeal. Recommended by Christine Wells