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Reviews of Hyperion (1989)

Review by keen machine (2007-01-10)
Hyperion is not a self-contained work. Do not undertake reading it if you dislike being forced to read sequels in order to find resolution to a story. Additionally, the narration in the Tales is often weak and seldom meshes well with the frame story, the characters often recounting things to each other that they would have no way of knowing. In this respect the narrative viewpoint shifts dramatically and without warning, seemingly arbitrarily or merely to cast some light on an aspect that Simmons felt was somewhat interesting.

Review by ropie (2007-01-02)
'Hyperion', as most people know, is somewhat like Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales' in its layout. It also bears comparison with 'The Wizard of Oz', though humour is not really on the agenda here.

A group of pilgrims have been assembled by external powers to travel to visit the Time Tombs, the temporal anomoly located on the backwater world of Hyperion. On the way, bound by the events of the journey, the pilgrims recount tales which explain their individual reasons for wanting to vist the Shrike, the enigmatic figure who lurks at the Time Tombs.

There is no doubt that Simmon's writing is powerful and moving. From the outset the tone is sombre and grand but it is not until the first tale that the excitement really begins. Some of the tales are better than others - my favourites being the Priest's tale and the Academic's tale - but each story goes some way to adding a piece of the puzzle surrounding the journey. The tension mounts as the plot increases in complexity and links can begin to be discerned between the main characters.

For all that though, 'Hyperion' is really just an introduction to the events explained in the next novel, 'The Fall of Hyperion'. This second novel is not as strong in terms of its structure and has been, for me at least, not as compelling as the first. For this reason I felt 'Hyperion' should have stood by itself better as a stand-alone book but it seems merely to introduce the major concepts and plot lines which are expanded on and tied up in part two.

Ignoring the fact that very little has been given away by the end of the novel, 'Hyperon' is a superb read and dense with atmosphere. My one major criticism of the style is the reliance on gory, horrific imagery. I know that Simmons is known as a horror writer but it's not a style I particularly enjoy and found the graphic violence somewhat un-necessary. Also, the design of the Shrike struck me as a bit unoriginal - a creature covered in thorny spikes with glowing red eyes seems just a bit of a cliche'.

Still, a great read on its own though in my opinion not the genre-defining tale it has been made out to be.

Review by mrdude (2006-03-09)
Hyperion, the first book in the Hyperion Series by Dan Simmons Is the story of seven pilgrims traveling to the planter hyperion to meet with a mysterious being known as the shrike who, according to legend, will kill six of them and possibly grant one of them a request.

The story is set in the distant future and starts off, after a short prolog introducing one of the seven main characters, with the pilgrimage traveling to the planet hyperion. Few of the pilgrims have met before and soon decide to take turns telling their story of why they are now on the quest to see the shrike. The group consists of a catholic priest, an old Jewish man, a poet, a deceive, a soldier, “the counselor”, and a high ranking member of the mysterious group known as the templars; as their pilgrimage progresses each story is told.

I found the individual tales to be the strongest part of this novel. I wasn’t really captured by the book until I was reading the first tale. I felt that nearly all of the character development, world building, and even development of the larger present plot occurred within each person’s story. I found myself wanting to get to the next story when I was reading parts of the story that were in the present tense of the pilgrimage. Without ruining the plotline I think I can safely say that I wasn’t interested in the pilgrimage itself until the last story was told, and was surprised at how interested I had become.

Simmons’ portrayal of tomorrow’s universe was quite spectacular as well. It is very intricate and well thought out, but at the same time because of the style the book is written in, it is only given to readers in small portions. I enjoyed that being an audience member to these individual stories gave you many of your details about this “world” as a matter of fact that you already should have known. I found this method to really bring the reader closer in to the story, rather than separate them and mark them as an outside entity. In ways I would liken this novel to sitting around a futuristic campfire with all the characters within (while the shrike, a beast composed entirely of sharp metal hooks and spikes and burning red eyes, lurks in the shadows).

(review also posted at the IBDoF)

Review by Non (2004-01-02)
It's been a few years since I last read Hyperion, yet the worlds Dan Simmons created are still vivid in my imagination. This story is not just science fiction or fantasy, but every genre bound in one book. Simmons hides things from the reader and make them feel as though they are with the pilgrams on Hyperion. Each of the pilgrams stories became a part of me, from the love story of Lamia Brawn to the fights for survival of Colonel Kassad. Each story is worth its own book and combined they make a very moving novel.
[RATING: 9/10]

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