Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion was so good that it did something odd to everything else I was reading. It didn't show those books up as lesser, it made everything else better as well. I'm not really sure how that happened.

People had been raving about Hyperion for quite a while, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it, prompted by a science fiction group I'm part of. As soon as I picked it up, I was grabbed by the story.

This is a science fiction riff on The Canterbury Tales - or maybe, as I look into it, The Decameron (I've never read The Canterbury Tales or The Decameron, so take this with a grain of salt.) A pilgrimage of seven set out to the Time Tombs on the planet of Hyperion - Canterbury Tales. But they do this in a time of mass upheaval, when it appears that the world itself could be ending - The Decameron, which is set during the Black Death.

On the way to their final destination, the Time Tombs, and the creature that roams them, The Shrike, a deadly killing machine that may or may not be from the future, sent backwards in time to unleash the coming war, the pilgrims tell their stories of how they came to be where they are.

The stories themselves are little masterpieces - creepy, atmospheric, and mind-bending. Every one takes a story of the Shrike and of Hyperion, and does something different with it, creating a mosaic of images that is never neatly resolved. The reality is possibly all of these stories, none of them, or more. A priest thinks he has found evidence of Christianity that predates the coming of humanity. A soldier is repeatedly visited in battle by a woman. A poet finds inspiration in disaster. A man watches his daughter grow younger by the day. A woman fails in her duty to protect another. A diplomat harbours an ancient secret.

And the menace of the Shrike grows, as the universe edges closer to war. But war with whom?

These stories are, individually, mind-blowingly good - in concert, they are little short of breathtaking. This is science fiction at its very best, and its avoidance of simple answers satisfies me deeply. I can't wait to read the next book.


I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees


  1. Okay, I'm not very good at google blogger, but is there a link to follow you?

  2. This might help - if I go to www.blogger.com/home, it gives me an option for a "Reading List." You should be able to add the URL for my blog there? Let me know if it works!