Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The Consul is one of seven people who are undertaking a pilgrimage on Hyperion to the Time Tombs and the Shrike, a metal being covered in knives or sharp objects. The Shrike is known for bloodshed. These pilgrims are going so they can, perhaps, avert a war between humans and the Ousters by saving Hyperion. But each of them has his or her own reason for the pilgrimage as well.
In order to discover why the seven of them have been chosen for this pilgrimage, they decide to each tell their own tale of what could be important to their journey and its outcome. Pilgrims cannot just fly in to the Time Tombs – they have to take a prescribed path across Hyperion itself first. Even then, they cannot guarantee success. But they have time to learn a little about each other and their personal reasons for agreeing to the journey.
The Catholic priest is following a path similar to one his mentor took many years earlier. The soldier is trying to find a woman. The poet is returning to his muse. The scholar brings his infant daughter. The star ship captain has quiet, personal reasons for the journey. The detective wants to seek retribution or assistance for a client. The Consul is returning to the planet where he was ambassador for many years. Each believe that Hyperion could be either his or her redemption or death.
As I read Hyperion, I kept thinking that this is Canterbury Tales in space. While on the road each traveler tells a personal story. I haven’t read all of the Tales, so don’t know what happens when they read Canterbury. And for now, I don’t know what happens when they arrive at the Time Tombs – the book ends just as they arrive. This novel is centered on each person’s story, not the final result.
Although I found Hyperion slow reading, Dan Simmons kept my interest pulled in. By the fourth story I would put the book down for a while, but the story wouldn’t leave me. I live in the San Diego area and the firestorm was happening as I was reading this book. I couldn’t go to work and didn’t need to evacuate, so I kept returning to Hyperion instead. I like the suspenseful way it ends. I know there is a sequel that finishes this pilgrimage, but the book is complete without that.
This Hugo winner is in the top 20 of the 100 Top Science Fiction Books. While I personally wouldn’t put it that high, I can see why viewers rate it there. Perhaps, after I read the remaining two books, I’ll put it higher on my personal list as well.
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations