21 June, 2009

Review: Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

     Hyperion (1989), by Dan Simmons, won the Hugo award in 1990 and is the first book in the Hyperion Cantos Series. It is a truly masterful work of science fiction, done in the format of the Canterbury Tales, that sets a new standard for the genre.

The Setup

     Hyperion is structured around the intersection of seven different stories by individuals on a pilgrimage to save humanity. Legend has it that one wish is granted, and all the others are impaled on the Tree of Pain, to suffer for the rest of eternity. There is no central character in this book, as the story is weighted equally between the different pilgrims. Their past relationship with Hyperion and the story of how they were chosen for the pilgrimage make up the bulk of the book, and what great stories they are.
     From poet to detective, every account is genuinely moving, and is intended to shed light, little by little, on the mystery of Hyperion and the Shrike, a bladed and mysterious monstrosity from the future. Dan Simmons' visceral realism and prodigious story telling ability make Hyperion, by far, my favorite book this year--incorporating adventure, mystery, religion, and science, in an educated and highly intelligent narrative gives Hyperion a texture and body that any connoisseur of science fiction can not help but love. Sip slowly, this heady vintage runs out all too quickly. 

My Take in Brief

     I absolutely loved Hyperion, and have prostrated myself at the altar of Dan Simmons prodigious penmanship. It is truly rare to find such a complete and enticing science fiction novel that manages to remain original, provocative, and captivating without going over the edge of the believable. The fractal "Canterbury" perspective and setting combine to give the novel a historical texture that remains focused enough to provide the thrills and reader side revelatory quality of a detective novel. You get it, I am a Simmons convert--the book catered to everything I love about science fiction without falling for any of the typical pitfalls. Read Hyperion slowly and thoroughly; hoard its precious words and discover a gem of science fiction that deserves an honored place on your bookshelf. 
     Without revealing too much, I would like to add that Hyperion is a courtship with truth that is left unfulfilled; secrets are whispered and promises given, but climax remains evanescent. I strongly urge you to pick up The Fall of Hyperion if you are going to tackle this series, if not you will be left tearing out your hair until you can lay your hands on the next book. Ultimately, the first book is a titillating tease that reveals everything without giving enough away. Think on that for a while!

Ratings and Links

Amazon: 4.3/5
B&N: 4/5
My Rating: 4.75/5

Check out Dan Simmons official site for cool artwork and more.
Apparently Warner Bros. has the rights to this and announced in January that they plan to make a movie out of the series. Don't butcher it!

Piqued Your Interest?

Do it. You won't regret reading Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos). Best science fiction series ever? Quite possibly. 


ediFanoB said...

So far I read one book by Dan Simmons - Terror - and it was real good one.
Dan Simmons tells the story of the last expedition of John Franklin, who tried to find the Northwest Passage in 1845 with the ships HMS Terror and HMS Erebus.

I must admit your review aroused my interest in Hyperion. Even if I read mostly fantasy. Another good thing is that this book is still available. I added the book to my list.

It seems Dan Simmons has the talent to write good stories in different genres.