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On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

500 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 26, 1989

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About the author

Dan Simmons

305 books11.5k followers
Dan Simmons grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art.

Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years—2 years in Missouri, 2 years in Buffalo, New York—one year as a specially trained BOCES "resource teacher" and another as a sixth-grade teacher—and 14 years in Colorado.

Biographic Sketch

His last four years in teaching were spent creating, coordinating, and teaching in APEX, an extensive gifted/talented program serving 19 elementary schools and some 15,000 potential students. During his years of teaching, he won awards from the Colorado Education Association and was a finalist for the Colorado Teacher of the Year. He also worked as a national language-arts consultant, sharing his own "Writing Well" curriculum which he had created for his own classroom. Eleven and twelve-year-old students in Simmons' regular 6th-grade class averaged junior-year in high school writing ability according to annual standardized and holistic writing assessments. Whenever someone says "writing can't be taught," Dan begs to differ and has the track record to prove it. Since becoming a full-time writer, Dan likes to visit college writing classes, has taught in New Hampshire's Odyssey writing program for adults, and is considering hosting his own Windwalker Writers' Workshop.

Dan's first published story appeared on Feb. 15, 1982, the day his daughter, Jane Kathryn, was born. He's always attributed that coincidence to "helping in keeping things in perspective when it comes to the relative importance of writing and life."

Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987 and lives along the Front Range of Colorado—in the same town where he taught for 14 years—with his wife, Karen, his daughter, Jane, (when she's home from Hamilton College) and their Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Fergie. He does much of his writing at Windwalker—their mountain property and cabin at 8,400 feet of altitude at the base of the Continental Divide, just south of Rocky Mountain National Park. An 8-ft.-tall sculpture of the Shrike—a thorned and frightening character from the four Hyperion/Endymion novels—was sculpted by an ex-student and friend, Clee Richeson, and the sculpture now stands guard near the isolated cabin.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,781 reviews
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,972 followers
February 26, 2016
Somehow I’ve managed to read a dozen books by Dan Simmons without getting around to Hyperion, one of his most acclaimed works. Frankly, I’ve been scared of it. Simmons has been mashing up horror, sci-fi, hard boiled crime novels, thrillers, and historical fiction while often stuffing his books with so many ideas that it was all I could do to keep up so this seemed like it could be a bit more than I could comfortably chew.

Just as I feared, while I was reading and nearing the end, Simmons crept into my house like a ninja and rammed a funnel into my skull. Then he poured his wild sci-fi ideas and concepts into my brain pan like a frat boy pouring the suds in a beer bong. My mind overloaded, and I gibbered like a monkey on meth for fifteen seconds before passing out. When I woke up an hour later with a wicked headache and cerebrospinal fluid leaking out my ears and nose, Simmons was gone, but he’d left a note saying “Don’t you ever learn? Keep reading and one of these days, I will END you!”

So now I’m typing this with cotton balls stuck in my nostrils and ears while I’m waiting to get my MRI scan, and I’m once again left in awe of just how many wildly original ideas Simmons can cram into one story.

Simmons borrows the structure of The Canterbury Tales here. In the distant future, humanity has spread out among the stars, and one of the planets they’ve inhabited is Hyperion which has the mysterious Time Tombs and a deadly entity known as the Shrike which protects the area around them. A powerful religion has grown around the Shrike and many make pilgrimages to try and see him from which almost no one ever returns.

A former Consul of Hyperion is contacted by the Hegemony government and told that he must join a pilgrimage to see the Shrike with six others. The Ousters, a faction of humanity mutated by centuries of living in deep space, has been making aggressive moves against Hegemony worlds and now they’re targeting Hyperion just as there are signs that the empty Time Tombs are about to stop moving backwards in time and finally reveal their secrets.

The Consul meets the other pilgrims which include a priest, a soldier, a poet, a scholar, a detective and the captain of a rare giant tree capable of space travel. (Yes, a giant tree moving through space. Ask Simmons. I’m just reporting the news here, folks.) Realizing that they must have been chosen to make the journey for a reason, they take turns telling the stories of their connections to Hyperion and the Shrike as they make their way towards the Time Tombs.

I struggled with this book at first because Simmons throws the readers into the deep end of the pool with little explanation of the universe he’s created, and I don’t do well with books that start like: “Captain Manly Squarejaw woke up on his Confederated star potato and drank a glass of strained purplepiss juice while checking his com unit thingie to get the lastest news on the crisis involving the Whogivesashitsus.

Fortunately, Simmons gets the plot up and moving quickly, and then uses the stories of each of the pilgrims to fill us in on the history and setting. By using the different story tellers, Simmons gives different perspectives for tales as diverse as an interstellar war to a future detective story with big sci-fi action to quieter personal tragedies like a father losing his daughter to a horrible fate. All of these stories eventually come back around to Hyperion and the Shrike.

I was also impressed how Simmons writing this in 1989 foresaw a computer network linking people, but also turning them into information overloaded cyber junkies who confuse accumulating news with taking action. There’s so many different big sci-fi ideas in here that many writers probably would have been content to make an entire career out them, but Simmons uses them all deftly to create one unified story. Oh, and memo to George Lucas: the next time you want to make a sci-fi movie with interplanetary politics being a primary driver to your plot, read this first. Or just hire Simmons to write the damn thing for you .

My only gripe is that while I knew there were sequels to this, I thought I was getting a complete story, and it definitely leaves a lot hanging for the next book. And there’s a Wizard of Oz thing near the end, and I hate the goddamn Wizard of Oz. It’s a Kansas thing.
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 258 books409k followers
September 17, 2021
I had to be in the right frame of mind to read this book. Basically, it is The Canterbury Tales in space. Seven pilgrims set out on a potentially fatal one-way trip to visit the Time Tombs on the planet of Hyperion, where a godlike killing machine called the Shrike will possibly grant one of them a wish -- and probably slaughter the rest.

You have to have some patience, and be willing to change your focus from character to character, as each takes their turn telling the story of what has brought them to this pilgrimage. The novel is thus a collection of interconnected novellas with a common frame narrative. Each character's story is gripping, fascinating, chill-inducing. Each is worth the price of admission and offers clues to the puzzle of the Time Tombs and the Shrike. But for me, anyway, it can sometimes be tough to become attached to one narrator and then have to change to another. This is no knock on Simmons. His narrative is beautifully written, and once I was about halfway into the book, I couldn't stop reading. The payoff is totally worth it, as each story unfolds another facet of this incredible universe Simmons has created. It is a pilgrimage that is worth the journey -- and the book leaves us at a perfect cliffhanger, with the stories all told, the stakes raised, the mystery about to be confronted once and for all . . . but still no answers. And that's why I am buying the sequel right now!
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46k followers
March 5, 2022
My 600th review goes to Hyperion, an imaginative and magnificent classic science fiction novel.

After years of having Hyperion by Dan Simmons on my TBR, I can finally say that I’ve read this beloved classic sci-fi novel. Before I started reading this novel, I didn’t know much about the premise or the content of the Hyperion except that there’s this creature called The Shrike in it, and also this book or series is one of the most beloved and highly praised sci-fi novels of all time. I’m actually pretty shocked that Hyperion was first published in 1989. This felt like a book written way ahead of its time, and I’m not surprised this has become a classic now. Hyperion has been on my TBR pile for almost 6 years, and because I’ve been missing sci-fi a lot lately, I thought I might as well read this series now, and I’m definitely not disappointed by the first installment of the series.

“It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.”

Hyperion is the first book in the Hyperion Cantos quartet by Dan Simmons. On the world called Hyperion, beyond the reach of galactic law, there waits a creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret.

As many reviews have stated, Hyperion is like The Canterbury Tales in space. It is essentially seven novellas in one novel, and it’s different from the majority of novels I’ve read so far. I didn’t know that I would be reading six different tales told by each individual, and this can be a hit or miss because it feels like a collection of novellas. It did take me some time to get used to the narrative structure. My degree of likeness with each story differs, but I loved how each one of the stories shed utterly important revelations regarding Hyperion and the ominous creature called The Shrike. So, my review will consist of my brief thoughts regarding each tale in Hyperion.

“You have to live to really know things, my love.”

The Priest’s Tale
This is the tale about Father Hoyt and mostly Father Dure. The Priest's Tale is the first story told by the pilgrims embarking upon Hyperion. And I think the ending of this tale could easily be the make-or-break moment for the reader. As I said, I did not know what kind of book Hyperion was, and reading the tale of Father Dure being told in the form of a diary took me some time to get used to. I wondered, where is this story going? What is the purpose of this tale? And when I neared the end of the chapter, my jaw dropped. What happened to the Priests was insanely terrifying and impactful. The Priest's Tale allowed Simmons to inform his readers immediately that Hyperion will be a bleak tale. The theme of faith was elaborated carefully, and we get to find that The Shrike is not the only creature that should be feared; there are more. I loved this one, and I consider The Priest's Tale my third favorite tale in the novel.

“I now understand the need for faith—pure, blind, fly-in-the-face-of-reason faith—as a small life preserver in the wild and endless sea of a universe ruled by unfeeling laws and totally indifferent to the small, reasoning beings that inhabit it.”

The Soldier’s Tale
If I were told to sum up The Soldier's Tale in three words, it would be blood, war, and sex. The Soldier's Tale tells Kassad's fight against the Ousters and the important reason why he wants to go to Hyperion. Overall, I did not love this story as much as The Priest's Tale. But seeing more glimpses of what The Shrike is capable of here totally mesmerized me. By this stage of the narrative, I already thought of The Shrike as one of the scariest creatures in science fiction, and reading the book further just proved that notion more. I rank The Soldier's Tale as my fourth favorite tale in Hyperion.

Picture: The Shrike by Filipe Ferreira

The Poet’s Tale
I really loved The Poet's Tale. The third tale in this book is told from Martin Silenus's POV, and the depiction of writing, poetry, art, and what it means to become a writer was so profound. Out of all the Tales in Hyperion, this was the one that made me highlight so many passages. Simmons successfully put many thought-provoking and resonating passages without making them a hindrance to the pacing. The revelations about The Shrike revealed in this tale were so mind-blowing to me, and I can't wait to find out whether it's all true or not. The Poet's Tale is my second favorite tale in the book.

“Words bend our thinking to infinite paths of self-delusion, and the fact that we spend most of our mental lives in brain mansions built of words means that we lack the objectivity necessary to see the terrible distortion of reality which language brings.”

The Scholar’s Tale
This is it. The Scholar's Tale is my favorite tale in the entire novel. It's probably the most different compared to the other stories, but by putting the extraordinary circumstances in ordinary lives, Simmons effectively made The Scholar's Tale, the fourth story, the most heartbreaking and powerful tale to read. I read this long chapter in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down. Family and parenthood are the key themes of this tale, and once again, the gradual sadness caused by the unstoppable passage of time was incredibly well-written. It is a poignant tale, one that will make you sit and think, and it's so worth your time to read.

“Sarai had treasured every stage of Rachel's childhood, enjoying the day-to-day normalcy of things; a normalcy which she quietly accepted as the best of life. She had always felt that the essence of human experience lay not primarily in the peak experiences, the wedding days and triumphs which stood out in the memory like dates circled in red on old calendars, but, rather, in the unself-conscious flow of little things - the weekend afternoon with each member of the family engaged in his or her own pursuit, their crossings and connections casual, dialogues imminently forgettable, but the sum of such hours creating a synergy which was important and eternal.”

The Detective’s Tale
Unfortunately, after the greatness of The Poet's Tale and The Scholar's Tale, this tale just felt so tame in comparison. The fifth Tale is a murder mystery story, and it's my second least favorite in Hyperion. It's one of the longest chapters in the book, I couldn't feel invested in the love story, and it's disappointing that it doesn't add many big revelations regarding The Shrike or Hyperion.

“Most murders,” I said, “are acts of sudden, mindless rage committed by someone the victim knows well. Family. A friend or lover. A majority of the premeditated ones are usually carried out by someone close to the victim.”

The Consul’s Tale
Even more unfortunate, the final Tale in the book is definitely my least favorite Tale in the entire book. I don't have anything much to offer here. I didn't find anything told in this Tale to be memorable, and similar to The Detective's Tale, it didn't add many revelations regarding The Shrike or Hyperion. I keep saying this as a criticism because, to me, the big pieces of revelations provided on The Shrike in the first four Tales are what made their respective ending so impactful and memorable.

“Anticlimax is, of course, the warp and way of things. Real life seldom structures a decent denouement.”

The quote above is pretty much what you can expect from the ending of Hyperion. I haven't done my research on this, so I can't confirm whether this is true or not, but the abrupt ending might mean that Hyperion and its sequel The Fall of Hyperion was one big book divided into two novels due to its length. If I were to rate Hyperion based on the first four Tales I read, I'd rate it with a 5/5 stars rating. It's a shame that the final two tales just didn't click with me, and I have to lower my rating. That being said, even though I didn't like the last two Tales, Dan Simmons has shown his versatility as a writer so damn well with all the Tales told in Hyperion. I am very much looking forward to reading The Fall of Hyperion next month. I need to find out how this grand setup will be concluded.

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Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,854 followers
February 28, 2021
Shriking the way towards one of the best epic, old mythology, and literature inspired, mindblowing, amazingly ingeniously written space operas.

The difference between the first two Hyperion parts and the third and fourth Endymion parts of the series is that the first duo is more oriented on classic mythology and literature motives transformed into a sci-fi settings, while the sequel goes full frontal space opera with anything a sci-fi readers´ hearth could wish for.

Tricky not to spoiler, because there are different characters, each one telling her/his own story that often has to do with past events that will influence the future of their mission, but let's say that Simmons does exposition like a boss, especially recognizable if one remembers elements of Hyperion when reading Endymion.

I would name, the classic, Simmons in a line with Irving, Bradbury, Sanderson, and King, because of the very rare style and his narrative competence and talent that lets the reader never lose interest and thereby connection to the world for just one second.

Important to know, if one isn´t such a sci-fi prone reader, one should just read the first 2 parts of the series that are mainly character focused and classic retelling mode with more epic space opera towards the end, much philosophy, and indirect criticism and stuff, while Endymion is more going towards combining the master storyteller characterization with longer, epic sci-fi moments, more detailed worldbuilding, and the meta with fractions, subtexts, history of the world and a big, unexpected revelation towards the end.

I would call this series, and Simmons, some of the best a reader can imagine and wish for, one of the greatest both worldbuilding and characterization with many underlying, deeper topics, and a prime example what the visionary power of one talented, literature loving human can create. A timeless milestone, something that should make him immediately be named in one row with the big three, Asimov, Clarke, and Lem. Sorry, Heinlein and Dick, you never achieved to reach their level. Read, at least the first 2 parts if you still aren´t into sci-fi, epic, unforgettable moments are waiting for you.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Wil Wheaton.
Author 89 books204k followers
March 2, 2020
The updates I posted while reading this book pretty much capture how I felt the entire way, so rather than just rewrite them, I'll focus on my overall impression upon finishing Hyperion.

It's about the journey, it's not about the destination.

I was deeply disappointed that there was no resolution, once the pilgrims arrived at the Time Tombs, but I don't see how there could have been a satisfying resolution without adding at least another 100 pages to the book. So I just reminded myself that this book was about the journey, and not the destination.

I almost wish they'd left the entire Ouster/Spy/Galaxy-is-on-the-edge-of-Armageddon story out, and simply focused on the pilgrims and their story, letting their individual tales hint at the wider galaxy and its various conflicts. I guess the Consul's story wouldn't have been as meaningful without the greater understanding we got about the Hegemony and the Ousters, but if not knowing that meant not having this disappointing unresolved feeling that I have right now (I just finished the book a few minutes ago), I think it would have been a fair trade. If the whole thing is telling us about these people going to see The Shrike, fading out just before they do is like dropping Luke into the trench on the Death Star, and never letting us know what happens next.

I understand that much of the resolution I currently find lacking is provided in [Book: Fall of Hyperion], but every book, even those that are part of a series, should provide an entirely satisfying experience to someone who reads them in isolation of the other volumes. To that end, Hyperion succeeds, I think, even if it doesn't tell us what happens when they finally get to the Shrike (or if they even do) as long as we accept that it is about the journey, and not the destination.

I still loved it. I still thought it was a wonderfully-written novel that absolutely deserved the Hugo. I wish I could give it 3.5 stars, but thinking back on how much I enjoyed it while I was reading it (instead of how unresolved I feel at this moment) I'm bumping it up to 4.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
October 19, 2018
First of all, let me begin by saying that I really enjoyed reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

The depth, variety and scope of his imagination is a joy for any science fiction fan. Having said that, there were some flaws that must be addressed. The dialogue is frequently flat and there are some corny stereotypes that were fun but also distracting when the writer is trying to create a serious work. The pace is also a problem. I had to invoke my rule to give any book at least 100 pages before I set it aside. It was not just that the narrative was slow, but Simmons takes the reader for granted in the first quarter of the book, trusting that he will be able to keep the reader’s attention. It was not until the halfway mark that I really began to buy what Simmons was selling.

Also frustrating is the thematic trend of science fiction and fantasy writers to write a series, to which Simmons subscribes. This book is entertaining and enjoyable but is clearly meant to begin a series, the denouement is posted somewhere after the back cover. This is not necessarily wrong or a problem all by itself, but I do think it adds to a book to stand on its own. Certainly there are great series and books that are meant to be a part of a series, but as an artistic achievement and for literary significance, a novel should be able to be its own story, even if it is a part of a larger chronicle.

That said, Hyperion is a fun, smart book. Structured along the lines of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and with frequent literary references, especially to John Keats, this is well written and compelling. Another fundamental aspect of a good science fiction book is the ability to illustrate a future setting. Simmons use of the Chaucer template allows him to explore several different settings in the future universe he has created, and it is a very good universe, reminiscent of Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein in its detail. And I will read the next book in the series, Sam I Am, with a fox and in a box, because Simmons has created a very good book in Hyperion that will probably continue to be good as a series.

** A year later and I still have not read the second book, still mad about the ending

** Years later and I still have not read more, still mad about the ending

** Ok six years later and I am reading the sequel.

Profile Image for Kay.
197 reviews373 followers
January 18, 2012

What in the world did I just read, and why didn't I read it sooner? This book is so superbly written and crafted—it's easily one of the best modern books I've read, one that excels in storytelling and writing!

If I could give this book more than five stars, I definitely, definitely would.

The scope of imagination, wordplay, and critical analysis of humankind is astounding. I do think that the "frame" structure of the story, in which each character's tale slowly unfurls the plot, is superbly done. Each following story added a significant layer of depth to the book.

I don't know if I can contribute any more than what has already been said about this book, so here are some of my reactions for each tale.

[MINOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON END, though nothing that would devastate many expectations. Unless you like to jump into a story blind and can’t stand to have anything spoiled. In that case, stop reading now…]


1. The Priest's Tale : I am of the cruciform. I never really thought a series of a few words would ever cause me to break out in goose bumps. Not even "Come play with us, Danny" or "Hello, Clarice" or even "We know how monetary policy works" has elicited such a reaction. The priest's tale was powerful—a delicate mixture of horror and cleansing salvation. Even after finishing the book, I feel that the other stories don't match up to the urgency and suspense of the priest's tale.

Welcome to the rabbit hole that is Hyperion.

2. The Soldier's Tale : This tale reached impressive heights in the beauty of its prose, and the irony of its conclusion. To put it crudely, the twist at the end of this story would probably top the episode charts of Punk'd, if Ashton Kutcher survived till the rise of the Hegemony. The story alternated between beautiful—especially when Kassad meets his special someone for the first time in person—and what I can only describe with a very impassioned and dizzied WTFJUSTHAPPENED. I listened to Kassad's entire story on audiobook. The narrator had the perfect voice for a hard military man like Kassad who is lost in love.

3. The Poet's Tale : Ah, this was probably my favorite story of them all. The potty-mouthed, frat house humor of this story, especially after Kassad's nostalgic and passionate tale, was a refreshing change. In my mind, M. Silenus was one of the most developed characters of the book, with the exception of Sol Weintraub. Seriously, some days, I wish I could respond to queries M. Silenus-style: "Goddamn poopoo." The winding yet always focused narrative of M. Silenus was perfect in its execution—just circuitous enough to get into the "mad poet" mindset, but told with enough purpose to direct us along in its torrential journey to the final conclusion.

4. The Scholar's Tale : This was a well told, emotional story. It didn't affect me as much as it did other people, probably because I was more in the position of Rachel than Sol. Still, this story was the most approachable in plot and superbly crafted.

5. The Detective's Tale : I haven't read many "whodunit" type of novels, and have never read any PI novels. You know, the ones where the PI is some grizzled chain-smoking guy that sports a thick trench coat and a tattered pork pie hat. [I'm aware I am massively stereotyping, or that I may have gotten the stereotype wrong... Please don't hurt me, I'm sorry!] The twist in this one is that the PI is a woman, and the person who steps into her office is a young, beautiful man with a very unusual secret. It took me a while to get into the story; Brawne Lamia isn't my favorite character. But it took off after a while, and the ending was satisfying, if not a little confusing.

6. The Consul's Tale : Well, that came out of nowhere. But in a good way!


As a sci-fi newbie, I had some trouble swallowing down the futuristic elements, especially since the story throws you right into the heat of things. Unfamiliar terms made me nervous (Time debt? Fatline? Senate CEO? Huh?!) and may have pushed me into early retirement from the book if not for the rave reviews. To be honest, I still don’t completely understand this new world that we’re thrust into. But this is a story-driven narrative, and the stories that we’re given are well worth the entry into a brave, new, unfamiliar world.

Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
412 reviews2,221 followers
September 18, 2022
Posted at Heradas Review

This is another one of those classics of SF literature that I have somehow missed reading over the years. Had I been more of an active reader in the nineties, I’m sure I would’ve come to it much sooner. Thankfully, I finally got there, and Hyperion was not what I expected, in the best way possible. It’s most often compared to Dune, The Book of the New Sun, or other great works of Science Fantasy. Obviously, coming into the novel my expectations were high, and I knew the most basic gist of the plot: a pilgrimage across a world to meet an unimaginable being. What I got was partly what I anticipated, but in a very left-field form, which was such a refreshing subversion of my what I thought I was getting myself into. It delivered on what I thought it was, but in a way I never imagined, and it was fantastic.

Instead of straight-forward narrative momentum, Hyperion is almost entirely the backstories of these pilgrims. It’s heavily character based, and the only book I can honestly say is 100% both a novel, and a story collection. These stories are more technically novellas, because of their length, but you get what I’m saying. Each story genuinely adds to the forward narrative, by going backward. It’s really quite breathtaking to see this done so well. I’ve read other collections that are also novels, but they’re always more one or the other. This is equally both.

Each tale feels like a slightly different genre married to science fiction, and the interstitial sections weave them together tightly. Only one of them fell slightly flat for me. Mostly because it was more akin to cyberpunk than anything else, and I have a real love/hate affair with cyberpunk. I tend to judge the genre entirely too harshly at times, mostly because if I have any sort of professional knowledge, it’s in the Information Technology arena, and I have a difficult time suspending my disbelief about the realities of virtual worlds in regards to how they’re represented in cyberpunk. That’s a topic for another day.

Hyperion has that indescribable, almost lovecraftian terror, dread and brooding present throughout, and one tale in particular left me unbearably heartbroken. There’s honestly only one thing I can objectively complain about here, and it’s more endemic to the genre during the time period this was written in than anything else: the way the narrator spends an inordinate amount of time describing women’s bodies, broken down into parts, particularly breasts and nipples. It’s just kind of eye-roll pervy, but it’s my only real gripe. Thankfully, it’s not quite at a Haruki Murakami level, and this doesn’t much happen anymore in the really well written stuff of the genre, but I’m more embarrassed for the author than anything else, award winning fiction like this is fairly written in stone for future generations to examine.

I was torn whether or not to dig straight into The Fall of Hyperion after finishing this, but ultimately I decided not to just yet. I want to let this percolate and grow in my mind, but mostly I’m one of those anti-bingeing types that prefers to spread great stories out over a long period of time, to elongate my enjoyment of them, and better unpack their themes. I think it’s time for a non-genre novel, and then I’ll dig back in when the time is right. That being said, I can’t wait to come back to the world of Hyperion, and see what new terrors await these fantastic characters.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
553 reviews60.5k followers
Want to read
June 10, 2019
After reading the first chapter in a "try a chapter book tag" a few months ago I'm finally back to reading this.

I'm gonna give the audiobook a shot and see how it goes!

Update: Audibook is definitely NOT the way to go with this one... I'll read my physical copy instead!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
April 25, 2021
SF Masterworks (2010- series) #21: This book was a very deserving winner of the Best Novel, 1990 Hugo Award. Seven pilgrims travel to the mysterious Time Tombs on Hyperion and share their stories of how they ended up being a pilgrim. Words escape me - immediately I had to start reading the sequel The Fall of Hyperion! On so many levels this book is a masterwork from a constructed reality that covers universes and eons, through to a cosmos wide legacy, mythology and strategic planning by numerous power bases centred around the legend/myth of the Shrike.

This is a meticulously amazingly well thought out reality, that sets out the myriad races, creeds, sexes, cultures, customs, religions, technological development, species diversification, power sources etc. etc. and just as essentially sets out how their existences, development and growth (or collapse) impacted on each other's worlds over centuries. Then there's the superb use of the pilgrim's story telling device, that not only pushes the main story on, but seamlessly provides the depth and vibrancy to lay out this reality to the reader in such a simple, yet compelling way. 10 out of 12 - A FIVE STAR READ!

Pilgrim artwork: fom the 'Hyperion Cantos' Tumblr account and Tumblr artist - davidswiftart
Profile Image for Markus.
476 reviews1,562 followers
August 5, 2015
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn.


Imagine a universe where the Earth has been destroyed and humanity is spread out across hundreds of planets. Combine the artful poetry of John Keats with a science fiction retelling of the Canterbury Tales. Add tons of references to the myths and legends of the three Abrahamic religions, and what you have is Hyperion. A masterpiece of literature.

Seven pilgrims come together aboard the treeship Yggdrasil to make a journey to the remote planet Hyperion, outside the authority and jurisdiction of the Hegemony of Man. Each and every one of them has been specifically chosen by the Church of Final Atonement to undertake a pilgrimage to the enigmatic creature known only as the Shrike. And each and every one of them has been chosen because of a personal connection with the planet itself. Thus begins a quest to uncover the lost secrets hidden within the Valley of the Time Tombs, a place from which no pilgrim has ever come back alive.

This book deserves to be hailed alongside the greatest works of science fiction. While Dan Simmons’ writing is not something memorable in itself, he certainly makes up for it with the creation of his characters, his setting and most importantly his story.

The most fascinating part of the book is definitely the mystery of the Time Tombs themselves, huge structures that supposedly move backwards through time, originating in a distant future. Thus the book explores the concept of time itself, and the unforeseen consequences the effects of the Tombs have had and will have on the pilgrims' lives and the universe as a whole.

Hyperion is more a collection of short stories with an overarching frame story than an actual novel. That structure is part of what makes the book so much of a joy to read. Every chapter has one of the pilgrims tell his or her tale to the others in order to share information that will be vital for their survival and the success of their mission. And each tale brings the group closer to the Valley of the Time Tombs, where the Shrike is waiting for them.

The Priest, the Soldier, the Poet, the Scholar, the Detective, the Consul and the Templar. All of them with a with a story to tell and a part to play.

Still singing loudly, not looking back, matching stride for stride, they descended into the valley.

Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
553 reviews60.5k followers
July 18, 2023
(2.5?) It's such a popular "Classic Sci Fi" that I expected to love it.

Frankly I only liked the first and fourth story. I resented that the only female character

Part of me is glad it wasn't worth the hype since I don't want to read more or support this author.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
499 reviews855 followers
February 14, 2019
The fiction of Dan Simmons reminds me of a sporty and high maintenance dog, a dalmatian or Weimaraner perhaps, the type of athletic breed who walks its owners as opposed to the other way around. Like a canine with stamina to spare, the author's 1989 science fiction epic Hyperion, winner of the Hugo Award, may be the best fit for those who enjoy hours of exercise and mental stimulation in their personal time, a beast as opposed to a buddy. Intensely literary, highly imaginative, mostly capable of being understood without a B.A. in English or independent research, I survived a week with this novel much more than I enjoyed it.

Set in the 28th century, Earth has been destroyed several hundred years ago when an artificial black hole ultimately gobbled up the planet in what is commonly known as the Big Mistake. The Hegemony of Man has hopped across the stars through "farcasters," portals which bend space and allow instantaneous travel to certain points. The Hegemony's infrastructure is known as the "WorldWeb" and uses military strength to subdue and incorporate new worlds into the network for commercial purposes. Beyond the WorldWeb are the Ousters, interstellar barbarians who live free, as well as the TechnoCore, a race of AI who operate mankind's technology and may have their own agenda.

Both the Ousters and the TechnoCore are obsessed with the backwater world of Hyperion, colonized by a patron of the arts who dreamed of establishing a new Renaissance there. Hyperion features mysterious structures known as the Time Tombs, which are surrounded by an anti-entropic field which may have been built in the future. They are used as a gateway by an entity known as the Shrike. Composed of metallic blades and known to slice, dice and impale its victims on its thorns, the Shrike has spawned a cult which often sends a prime number of pilgrims to the Time Tombs. Legend holds that one pilgrim will be spared slaughter and granted a wish.

On the eve of interstellar war with the Ousters, the Shrike Church requests the compliance of seven individuals--six men and one woman chosen by the TechnoCore--to participate in a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs in hopes of averting war. These individuals are a priest, a soldier, a poet, a scholar, a detective, a diplomat and a guide. Revived from cyrogenic freeze aboard a treeship--living trees propelled through space by alien beings which emits force fields--the pilgrims share that they each have a unique relationship to Hyperion. Hoping to learn as much as possible before confronting the Shrike, the pilgrims draw straws and begin to share their stories en route to the Time Tombs.

Hyperion stands out by offering six stories for the price of one, each tale leaning heavily toward the work of a different author. The priest's tale is a horror story, Joseph Conrad in space. The soldier's tale is military science fiction in the mode of Robert Heinlein. The poet's tale, my favorite, has the sensibility of Douglas Adams. The scholar's tale has the sentimentality of Ray Bradbury. The detective's tale channels William Gibson. The consul's tale feels reminiscent of Jack London, substituting outer space for the South Seas. Different readers are sure to find different literary influences. The prose is at times overwhelming, sometimes difficult to comprehend.

Labyrinthine worlds are always Earthlike, at least to 7.9 on the Solmev scale, always circling a G-type star, and yet always restricted to worlds that are tectonically dead, more like Mars than Old Earth. The tunnels themselves are set deep--usually a minimum of ten kilometers but often as deep as thirty--and they catacomb the crust of the planet. On Svoboda, not far from Pacem's system, over eight hundred thousand kilometers of labyrinth have been explored by remotes. The tunnels on each world are thirty meters square and carved by some technology still not available to the Hegemony. I read once in an archeological journal that Kemp-Höltzer and Weinstein had postulated a "fusion tunneler" that would explain the perfectly smooth walls and lack of tailings, but their theory did not explain where the Builders or their machines had come from or why they had devoted centuries to such an apparently aimless engineering task. Each of the labyrinthine worlds--including Hyperion--had been probed and researched. Nothing has ever been found. No signs of excavation machinery, no rusting miner's helmets, not a single piece of shattered plastic or decomposing stimsick wrapper. Researchers have not eve identified entrance and exit shafts. No suggestion of heavy metals or precious ores has been sufficient to explain such a monumental effort. No legend or artifact of the Labyrinth Builders has survived. The mystery had mildly intrigued me over the years but never concerned me. Until now.

My criticism of Hyperion aren't the demands it places on the reader but its influences. The novel's length is brunch compared to a Stephen King word count and not every paragraph Simmons writes is that long or throws as many mysterious nouns at the reader. Simmons's prose is full and he can't be accused of lacking in thought. Interstellar science fiction is a genre I've been critical of--blasting off into the year 2525 with Zoltar on his crystalship can be intensely reader alienating--but there's no bigger fan of Star Trek than me, while Frank Herbert's Dune, which takes place on another star in the year 10,191, is deeply enthralling.

Simmons is strongly influenced by literature that I'm simply not. His great thinkers are not my great thinkers and his literary references are exhaustive. The framing device is Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, a torturous book I took an "F" on in 10th grade rather than try to make heads or tells out of. The novel is filled with the work of the 19th century English Romantic poet John Keats, uses the poet's biography as a major plot element and to develop one of the characters; all of this was met with a polite shrug. Other influences were only apparent to me through independent research: Teilhard de Chardin, John Muir, Norbert Wiener, Norse Mythology ...

The first five tales held my attention and I did enjoy the way Simmons takes his characters across the galaxy, only to have them end up on Hyperion deeply embedded in the mysteries of the planet. The sixth and final tale is drawn up and edited in a completely lackluster way and far worse, the novel ends in a cliffhanger that demands the reader buy a copy of the sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, to be provided with a basic resolution. Throughout the novel, without that B.A. in British Literature or secret code book, I was simply not enjoying the activity. I was a regretful dog walker looking for a racetrack to turn this greyhound loose on and find a terrier to hang out with instead.

Length: 171,948 words
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books516 followers
July 25, 2023
My complete review is published at Grimdark Magazine.

Hyperion, the Hugo Award-winning 1989 novel by Dan Simmons, is one of the greatest classics of grimdark science fiction. An interstellar coalition of 29th-century humans known as the Hegemony of Man is allied with the TechnoCore, an association of self-sentient artificial intelligence (AI) beings. The Hegemony and the TechnoCore join forces against the Ousters, a group of genetically modified superhumans bent on intergalactic domination.

The main plot of Hyperion involves seven travelers making a final pilgrimage to the distant planet of Hyperion before an expected invasion by the Ousters. Hyperion is famed for its legendary Time Tomb structures, which are believed to have originated from the future. The Time Tombs are guarded by a fearsome godlike creature known as the Shrike, who has a cultlike religious following.

Hyperion adopts the same narrative structure as The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth century epic featuring stories told by a group of pilgrims who journey together to visit the Saint Thomas Becket shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. In Hyperion, six of the seven travelers share their stories leading to their current pilgrimage to see the Shrike. Dan Simmons adeptly adjusts his writing style for each of the six novellas within the outer framing story, spanning everything from horror to romance. The ominous, omnipotent presence of the Shrike is felt in the background of each story, haunting each of the narrators.

Oh, and one of the narrators is actually a spy in league with the Ousters.

The line between humanity and AI is blurred in Hyperion, most notably with the development of cybrids, AI-controlled beings with bodies grown from human DNA. In this sense, cybrids are the opposite of cyborgs, which have a biological consciousness but with a machine-enhanced body.

The stories in Hyperion are steeped in religion and references to classic literature. The first novella, “The Priest’s Tale,” is a horror story detailing the journey of two Catholic missionaries on Hyperion who are infected with a wormlike parasite known as the cruciform. The cruciform parasite takes the shape of a cross beneath their skin, leading to indescribable pain. After killing its host, the parasite can resurrect the host’s body, repeating the cycle of grief and suffering.

The second story, “The Soldier’s Tale,” features a Palestinian soldier engaged in military training through a series of simulated battles, where he is saved by a mysterious woman who becomes his lover. The central mystery of the story involves whether the woman is real and her motives for manipulating the soldier.

In “The Poet’s Tale,” a poet obsessively seeks artistic perfection by writing The Hyperion Cantos (also the name of Dan Simmons’s series of novels) using the Shrike as his muse. Whereas the narrators of the two previous stories represent major monotheistic religions, the poet takes a more pluralistic approach to theology, having embraced and rejected a surprising number of faiths throughout his life.

The next story, “The Scholar’s Tale,” features a Jewish scholar seeking a cure for his infant daughter, who has been aging backwards after being infected by a mysterious illness that reverses the arrow of time. Her illness first appeared when, as an adult archaeologist, she visited Hyperion to study the Time Tombs and had an encounter with the Shrike. Her father hopes that the Shrike will also have the cure. But he must find this cure before it’s too late, since his daughter’s birth would also mean her death. “The Scholar’s Tale” is the most heartbreaking of the stories in Hyperion. I particularly love the way it parallels the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac.

“The Detective’s Tale” is both a hardboiled detective story and a bizarre romance between a private investigator and her client, a cybrid version of English poet John Keats. The real-life Keats died from tuberculosis in 1821 at the age of 25, leaving behind an unfinished epic poem titled Hyperion. In “The Detective’s Tale,” the cybrid Keats hires the detective to investigate his own murder, where the circumstances of his death are connected to the Shrike. In my favorite part of the story, the cybrid Keats recites the first canto from The Fall of Hyperion – A Dream, another unfinished gem by the real historical Keats.

The last story is from the Consul, the former governor of Hyperion. “The Consul’s Tale” is a love story complicated by time dilation, causing the two lovers to age at different rates. Besides revealing the origin of the Consul himself, “The Consul’s Tale” contains the most important information regarding the history of the war between the Hegemony and the Ousters.

Hyperion is an astoundingly prescient book given its publication date of 1989. Beyond the usual science fiction tropes of space travel and intergalactic politics, Dan Simmons nailed the ubiquitous role of artificial intelligence. Simmons also postulated the development of the WorldWeb, a network granting instantaneous travel and universal access to information. The actual invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee occurred in the same year as Hyperion’s publication.

Reading Hyperion is a transcendent experience. It is science fiction of the highest caliber and a multi-layered allegory of human existence in all its beauty and horror.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews663 followers
May 19, 2014
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.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,255 followers
September 4, 2020
It's the 28th century through a little accident ( some people do not believe it was), Earth has been destroyed by scientists over 400 years before, the inhabitants have dispersed they struggle in two hundred different planets to survive, in the vast galaxy an Empire called Hegemony rises to protect or is it to exploit them ? But with civilizations growing and changing in desert planets, ocean worlds, jungle lands, mountains regions, the expanding universe goes on forever how can any rule ? On the world called Hyperion a strange, frightening looking being lives the Shrike, some hate it others love all fear, and many want to kill the creature animal or machine, no one knows in the valley of the Time Tombs, huge structures ( some kind of time travel device, quite incomprehensible) the evil thing kills without mercy or feeling, but a cult evolves from this ruthless entity, the bizarre "church" has many shrines around the empire ... Now war against merciless barbarians Ousters, descendants from Earthlings living outside the Hegemony is about to begin, faster than light speed transportation has been achieved, total destruction is now possible, billions can be slaughtered by unseen powerful weapons only dreamed of, by their ancestors. The Shrike by way of his followers invites seven humans on a pilgrimage to visit him (yes, this is a homage, to the Canterbury Tales). The priest Father Hoyt sick, tired, taking drugs losing his faith, the soldier Kassad who has seen too many deaths in too many battles, retired the boisterous poet Silenus famous for his first poem, now unable to finish one not liked by his companions, the scholar Weintraub, carrying, his infant daughter Rachel the one person he loves, medicine has failed she gets dangerously younger every day, he would do anything to save her, the Starship captain Masteen from the mysterious Templar Brotherhood, keeping secrets from the others the detective and only woman in this group Lamia, as tough as any man who still can weep, having lost her love and last but far from least the cynical, brooding consul ( name not stated) he has information from the top, the legendary Meina Gladstone she controls the empire, ( the omniscient computers, in reality) by unethical political maneuvers enemies would say, that a spy is among them maybe he knows more than anyone else, returning reluctantly to the planet he formerly governed and always enjoys looking at the nightly sky as the meteor showers light up the darkness . They go up endless rivers , stormy seas, remote lands in aerial trams high above the ground telling stories when the pilgrims stop to rest ... and finally walking slowly in the eerie valley of the Shrike to their doom , all believe still continue on holding hands one begins singing an obscure song from old Earth, everybody joins in ... " We're off to see the Wizard "... A brilliant novel that of course has a sequel, three in fact.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,634 followers
February 15, 2020
I loved this sci fi classic, Hyperion and want to read the rest of the series now - especially with the massive cliffhanger at the end!
A sort of Canterbury Tales in space, Simmons takes us 700 years in the future with a human race that fled the ineluctable implosion of planet earth in two groups - the Hegemony and the rebellious Ousters. There are, if memory serves, about 25 (or was it 250?) inhabited worlds between which slipships (sp?) use Hawking drive (presumably named for the amazing Stephen Hawkings?) and traveling at light speed leads to time debt from the voyages to take into account the quantum physics of space and time. The story revolves around seven pilgrims headed to a world not connected to the WorldWeb (this being a network of human habitations connected by networks and AI intelligence of the TechnoCore). There is a ton of speculative ideas that were very far-reaching for a book written in 1981 including the aforementioned WorldWeb (think of the World Wide Web that was conceptualized in 1989 and opened to the public in 1991!), farcasting portals for stepping from one world to another using time-space singularities, cybrids which are androids whose AI is seeded with known Earth personalities such as John Keats (whose poetry and life plays an enormous part in the story!) The Hegemony has become somewhat authoritarian amd paranoid following the incredible rise of intelligence in the AI systems and the menace of the Ousters who are now completely comfortable living in deep space and have developed sophisticated weapons that threaten Hegemony worlds. On Hyperion, the destination of the pilgrims, there is mysterious murderous creature called the Shrike who lives near the Time Tombs which are now off limits to the imminent danger. Each of the pilgrims has a specific and important link to Hyperion and to the Shrike and each tells their story during the long voyage.
Needless to say, there is a LOT of material here and telling you more would inevitably lead to spoilers so suffice it to say that there is no question that Hyperion belongs in the upper echelon of science fiction novels and its vision of the future is at the same time quite terrifying and incredibly fascinating.
Looking forward to the next installment! (Since, read and reviewed here on GR!)
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
September 10, 2017
On the eve of interstellar war between the Hegemony of Man and the barbarian Ousters over the fate of Hyperion, seven pilgrims embark on a journey to the Time Tombs and their mysterious protector, The Shrike, a three meter tall, four-armed monster covered with blades. One pilgrim will have his wish granted and the others will be impaled on the Shrike's Tree of Pain. Only one or more of the pilgrims isn't what he appears to be...

I first read Hyperion almost seven years ago as part of the The Hyperion Omnibus: Hyperion / The Fall of Hyperion. When I found the ebook on the cheap, I decided it was time for a reread.

Hyperion is an epic tale that's hard to quantify. Borrowing its structure from the Canterbury tales, Hyperion is a literary sf tour de force, encompassing much of what I love about reading in the first place. There are literary references, far away places with strange sounding names, three dimensional characters, and a universe that is anything but black and white. There is also artificial intelligence, faster than light travel, robots, lasers, and many other spectacular sf concoctions.

As I said before, Hyperion is really a multitude of tales in one. Seven people have been selected to go on what is possibly the final Shrike pilgrimage. Along the way, they tell their stories, stories which run the gamut of genre tales. There's romance, humor, action, adventure, sex, and violence, everything I love about genre fiction. Simmons really flexes his writing chops in this, from Martin Silenus' verbose tale of being a writer to Brawne Lamia's Raymond Chandler homage. World-building is often intrusive and wielded like a club but Simmons' world-building is more like a massage, doled out in bite-sized chunks during each of the characters' tales.

While the world-building is staggeringly interesting, it's the characters that really fuel this fire. A repentent soldier, a conflicted diplomat, an old man with a child aging in reverse, the captain of a treeship, a burden-carrying priest, a detective in love with a poet, and a poet in love with the past.

There isn't enough space to write down everything I loved about this book. The only gripe I have is that it ends abruptly once the Consul's tale is told and the real ending is in the second volume, The Fall of Hyperion. For my money, Hyperion stands alongside The Dark Tower as on of my favorite fantasy/sf works of all time.

I originally read this way back in 2011 and it was one of those wonderful books that eclipsed many of the books before it. On the second read, it still is. Five out of five stars.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
Author 3 books85 followers
January 28, 2011
I'm frankly terrified to review Dan Simmons' masterpiece Hyperion. It is too good and too big for me to do this right. So...if I'm going to do it wrong, I might as well have fun. I thought I would mirror both Chaucer's and Simmons' use of the frame story in my review:

(The opening bit of Keats poetry)

He enter’d, but he enter’d full of wrath;
His flaming robes stream’d out beyond his heels,
And gave a roar, as if of earthly fire,
That scar’d away the meek ethereal Hours

The Overarching Frame

This may be one of my favourite books, ever. The Pilgrimage is the perfect literary tool for bringing together a bunch of characters who appear to have little in common but soon all share the same goal. Simmons does a masterful job at telling each story in different styles. The feel is unique each time. The structure of Hyperion offers something for everyone, even readers unfamiliar with sci-fi. Horror fans will be drawn to the legend of the Shrike, and the Priest's story, while perhaps the slowest to develop, reminded me of Stephen King. There's plenty to love for space opera junkies, and there's mystery, intrigue and deceit. There's also the exploration of the depth of a parent's love for their child. Oh and people get sliced and diced, nah huh.

I'm not at home in a sci-fi or fantasy book unless I'm confused for at least the first few pages, if not longer. The opening scene confronts us with new words ("time-debt"?), odd requests and tantalizing bits of interesting information. Read in retrospect, we feel very comfortable in this scene (which is one I particularly like). That's good, and means we've integrated ourselves into Simmon's freaky world. Although the overarching story is definitely odd, by the end of it you've bought what Simmons is selling; at full price. It's just odd enough for you to be curious, and there's just enough information revealed to encourage you to fly through the pages. Strange can be good, and in Hyperion, it's incredible.

Story Within a Story # 1: "The Freaking Shrike"

I loved the freaking Shrike! I was delighted to learn that its (his?, her?) name comes from a bird that skewers its insect prey on plant thorns. Yeesh! We can certainly discuss it, but word for word (or lack thereof), the Lord of Pain is one of sci-fi's best villains/protagonists. Mind you, I've only read the Hyperion/Fall of Hyperion duology, so who knows, perhaps it's not a really villain. The Shrike reminds me of Darth Vader on a few levels. It's Vader, like the Shrike, that dictates how the story progresses. The actions of all of the other characters are only in reaction to the Shrike. The protagonist in Hyperion is the Shrike; and it never says a word. However, I wouldn't classify it as an anti-hero because it certainly doesn't elicit any sympathy or other positive feelings. One difference: when the Shrike is around, instead of a haunting John Williams score, I hear the crazy part of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird". Actually, the opening lyrics to that song make a great pilgrimage tune for the Consul et al.:

"If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me
For I must be traveling on now
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see"

Ehem. I digress. The physical description of the Shrike is cool to mull over: three meters tall, made of razor wire, thorns, blades, and cutting edges, with four multi-jointed arms, and scalpel-like fingers and toes. It's metallic, but it's also organic. Don't forget the ruby red eyes. When I first read that, I was like, "WTF is this thing?", and I'm still kind of wondering that. Definitely makes it on my list of Literary Badasses, perhaps sandwiched between Coltaine, the Wickan Fist of the 7th Army and the Gunslinger Roland Deschaine of Gilead. Come, come, commala Lord of Pain, come, commala.

Story Within a Story # 2: "The Nine Words You Can't Say on Hyperion"

The alcoholic satyr-like poet Martin Sileneus is the scene-stealer of this book, although his best line comes in Fall of Hyperion (in an abundance of caution I'll leave that comment to the review of the sequel). I have to admit that in a potty humour kind of way, I liked Martin's somewhat limited yet colourful vocabulary during his brain-damaged period. Simmon's homage to George Carlin was pretty funny and reminded me of a scene in Iain M. Bank's Use of Weapons when a cab driver who uses a voice box to speak gets the crap kicked out of him and the voice box keeps saying things like "thank you", "where would you like to go" and "I'd like another please".
Through Martin we get a glimpse of what happened to Old Earth. It was a creative method of exposition and obviated the need to have a character suddenly give a misplaced history lesson. Martin gives Simmons an excuse to answer the reader's natural curiosity.

Story Within a Story # 3: "A Parent's Nightmare"

Sol's story, all by its lonesome, is worth the price of admission to Hyperion. Dan Simmons has proven that he can not only tackle tech and space opera with aplomb, but that he can also create vivid characters with whom we no doubt identify. I'm a new father and I found Sol's story to be extremely moving. Plus the freaking Shrike reaching for me in the dark would turn my shorts brown. Sol deserved the cover spot on my edition of The Fall of Hyperion. Don't doooooo iiitttttt!!!!

Story Within a Story # 4: "Farcasters and Farcaster Houses"

Was it me or was the idea of Martin's house where each room is on a different planet completely awesome? If this was real, people like Britney Spears would have enough money for two such houses AND be stupid enough to actually own two. Simmons does something with tech that I think a lot of authors fail to take advantage of: he ensures that the technology he creates and uses in his story does not exist in a vacuum (no pun intended) but that it impacts how society functions. In the opening scene of Hyperion, we're aboard the Consul's ship with his piano. At some point in the story we're told that private ownership of space vessels is extremely rare. I found this fact odd until we were introduced to farcasters and their relatively ubiquitous use. Who the hell would own an expensive space ship when you can go to a multitude of planets in your PJs? I also liked that with power comes increased access to farcaster technology. The fact that the President has a private farcaster makes sense.

Story Within a Story # 5: "The Freaking Shrike…again"

I make use of the Shrike's time-travel abilities to make a second comment here. The scene with Kassad and the Shrike was a very interesting concept of time as a weapon. That cool fight was also a nice little exemplar of how nobody has a chance against the Lord of Pain...

Story Within a Story # 6: "I am of the cruciform"

After reading the Priest's story I wondered how this one could be topped. Reading journal entries is always an interesting way of being exposed to facts because there is a suddenness to each revelation. Things happen while the journal's author is not jotting down his thoughts. Weird things. The opening lines of Father Paul Duré's later journal entries become tensely anticipated.

The Return to the Overarching Story

I was very impressed with Dan Simmons' tale. It rocketed him to the top of my favourite authors list and cemented him as one of my must-reads for years to come. I've since checked out his online writing course and have gained even more appreciation for the structure of Hyperion, the exposition and the prose. Most highly recommended.

The Unsatisfying Wrap-up

You'll have to read my Fall of Hyperion review...
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews805 followers
January 21, 2016
Hyperion is generally regarded as a science fiction classic, it tends to be included in most "Best SF Novels of All-Time" lists. I first read it when it was first published in paperback, at the time I had no idea I was reading a book that is destined to become a classic in the genre. When I began to participate in online sf books discussion groups not so long ago (primarily PrintSF these days) I noticed how often Hyperion is mentioned, usually reverent tones. A reread is then in order because I have entirely forgotten what is so good about it, besides I have not read the subsequent books in the Hyperion Cantos. If I remember correctly I could not get my mitts on a copy of The Fall of Hyperion at the time. Anybody who is familiar with the works on Dan Simmons will know how versatile he is. Simmons has published books in several genres including, sf, fantasy, horror, crime, and non-fiction. I can not say that he excels in all of them because I have only read his sf and horror novels but it would not surprise me if he does.

Hyperion is beautifully structured and skillfully built up from gradually introducing the reader to the universe of the book to taking the readers through the adventures of the seven protagonists. It is one of those rare books that is highly readable from start to finish, yet its accessibility belies its complexity. The novel is comprised of brilliant six distinct novella length stories wrapped within a frame story (a la The Canterbury Tales). This book encompasses several different styles or sf sub-genres including space opera, hard sf, soft sf, military sf, cyberpunk, horror, and even literary fiction, each story even manage to encompass multiple subgenres. The different parts combine into a cohesive excellent volume, Simmons' wonderful versatility is amply showcased by the different narrative voice and tone he adopts for each part.

My favorite is Part 5, The Detective's Tale: "The Long Good-Bye" which begins as a noir crime fiction then transform into a cyberpunk story with a ton of action with a touch of martial arts and even romance. The difference in narrative voice is particularly noticeable here, Brawne Lamia is the only female protagonist but kicks more asses than all the males put together yet still comes across as feminine. It is a sort of The Long Goodbye in reverse with the woman as the private eye. Part 4, The Scholar's Tale: "The River Lethe's Taste is Bitter" also deserves a special mention as the saddest, most poignant story here, somewhat reminiscent of Flowers for Algernon crossed with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. All the parts are great, though, these two are just my personal highlights. An earlier story even reminds me of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness before things take a left turn into Twilight Zone-ish weirdness.

Characterization is certainly a strong point of this book, all the characters are complex and believable, moments of humor and irony are discreetly slipped in to prevent the book from becoming leaden. The prose style, as mentioned previously, changes in accordance with the setting and character, as a whole the book is beautifully written. I also love that the book ends on a surprisingly cheerful musical note (though not quite a song and dance number) which is also something of a cliffhanger, and our "heroes" are far from safe.

If you count yourself an sf fan you need to read this. If you just want to read a damn good book this is also for you.
Profile Image for Mario.
Author 1 book193 followers
June 27, 2015

I wanted to love this book so bad. I really did.

Reading this book definitely wasn't easy. So many times i didn't know what the hell was going on. Most of the time I was confused or frustrated, and many times I thought about giving up. If this wasn't a library book, I would definitely put it down, and read it again when I'm in a mood for reading this kind of book.

The book is written in 'short stories' form, and I think that was my problem with it. I got bored at beginning of each story, and as soon as things got interesting, the story would end. Only story I enjoyed from start to finish, was Sol's story. I think he and Rachel were the only characters I got attached to. I didn't care what would happen to others.

And one of the reasons that I didn't give up reading is that I hoped we would get at least some answers at the end. But nope. It ended on a cliffhanger and not a single answer was given... Did I mention how much I hate cliffhangers? 'Cause I do.

For now, I don't think I'll be continuing on with the series. Maybe some time in the future I'll decide to give it a second shot, and hopefully, I'll like it more than I do now.
Profile Image for Overhaul.
317 reviews703 followers
September 2, 2021
"Se me ocurre que nuestra supervivencia puede depender de hablar el uno con el otro"

Puntuación: sería un 4,5 dejémoslo en unas bonitas 5 estrellas, lo admito es una joya de la CF. 🚀🛸🌌🛰🪐

(Mientras escribo me estoy riendo imaginando a un amigo decir mientras lee esto "Y allá va otro que se derrite de gusto con Hyperion, seguro que está preparando un altar para alabar el libro, otro para la secta, lástima era buen chaval").

Hyperion, la famosa novela que ha sido elevada a obra maestra de la CF, incluso obra de culto escrita por, Dan Simmons. Publicada en 1989 y ganadora de los premios Hugo, Locus e Ignotus, es la primera de una tetralogía llamada "Los Cantos de Hyperion". ¿Es Hyperion esa obra maestra de la CF que todos dicen? Sí, lo es, se lo merece. ¿Quiere decir esto que sea un libro redondo? No, para nada, tiene sus cosas, unos relatos son mejores que otros y pega algún que otro bajón en el ritmo a lo largo del libro, aún así alabo que no dejé de estar pegado a el cada vez que lo cogía, desde la primera página hasta la última, además el ritmo vuelve. Hacía tiempo que no devoraba un libro de tal manera que deseara cogerlo siempre que podía y leer. 👏

"Existen una plenitud y tranquilidad que sólo pueden venir de conocer el dolor"

Sigue una estructura narrativa similar a la de "Los Cuentos de Canterbury" escritos por Geoffrey Chaucer. Hyperion nos va narrando la adictiva e interesante historia de cómo siete personas, siete peregrinos con siete historias se dirigen al planeta Hyperion a las conocidas "Tumbas del Tiempo" para una última peregrinación y a su encuentro con lo mejor del libro que me dio los mejores momentos, escenas épicas y misteriosas, el temible Alcaudón, conocido como "El Señor del Dolor". Durante esta peregrinación conoceremos las increíbles historias y los misteriosos motivos que rodean a cada uno de los peregrinos y los ha llevado hasta esta misión y viaje suicida, revelándonos a su vez pinceladas del complejo universo que ha desarrollado Simmons.

"Nadie quiere pagar por un vistazo a la angustia de otra persona"

La novela, que recibe su nombre del poema épico inacabado Hyperion de John Keats, es un conjunto de historias muy diferentes entre sí que tienen como nexo en común en algún momento, Hyperion. Tendremos la historia de un sacerdote católico que se embarcará en una búsqueda. Un ex alto cargo militar, que sufrirá debido a un extraño amor. Un poeta algo dado a la bebida pero lleno de talento, y obsesionado con terminar y perfeccionar su obra maestra. Un profesor con su hija, un bebe. Tenemos una detective que le aportara a la trama un toque policiaco, y por ultimo un ex cónsul que gobernó antaño en el mismísimo planeta Hyperion. 🪐

"En esos segundos de decisión, se crean futuros enteros"

El libro está separado en capítulos en los que cada
uno de los personajes va contando su historia. Me gustó el hecho de que en cada una de las historias se nota la personalidad de quien está hablando, la estructura de su narración como la prosa en sí cambia para reflejar ésto.

La trama se caracteriza por utilizar diversos métodos de narración y estilo en cada una de las seis historias que hilan la trama central. Simmons es capaz de crear y hacer reales a los personajes solo con sus historias. Todos los relatos se hacen realmente amenos y entretenidos, siendo imposible dejar la historia a la mitad, si es cierto que hay unos mejores que otros o que en algunos momentos de algunos relatos da cierto bajón que pierde un poco el ritmo o que pase algo relevante, pero por suerte se arregla unas páginas después dejándote con ganas de más.

"Los poetas son las comadronas locas a la realidad. Ellos no ven lo que es, ni lo puede ser, pero lo que debe llegar a ser"

Una historia y una trama realmente fascinantes que está construida a base de personajes, consta de una diversidad temática abrumadora tenemos su dosis de venganza, perdida, lucha, amor, arte, muerte, esperanza, religión. Además con cada página que pasamos construye un complejo universo lleno de facciones y elementos. Tenemos decenas de mundos, sociedades humanas, razas alienígenas, inteligencias artificiales y más.

Hyperion es un comienzo, podría decirse que es una gran preparación que nos ayuda a comprender y a situarnos en la historia que va a contar a lo largo de esta tetralogía, "Los Cantos de Hyperion". Dan Simmons nos plantea conceptos de evolución tanto tecnológica como de religión, arte. Con cada página nos va mostrando poco a poco como funciona y está planteado este universo, su tecnología y religiónes, sus modos de vida, sus facciones y sus guerras. Se trata de un maravilloso y trabajadísimo prólogo que prepara un vasto camino espacial hacia una historia mucho mayor y más ambiciosa, cuando termina, te deja con la miel en los labios, necesitando leer su continuación, "La caída de Hyperion".

"La evolución lleva a los seres humanos. Los seres humanos, a través de un proceso largo y doloroso, llevan a la humanidad"

"Hyperion" se trata de una novela absolutamente indispensable para cualquier lector y amante de la CF. Una historia compleja y a la vez atractiva, que engancha aún con sus bajones. Una gran calidad narrativa. Dan Simmons consigue transportarte y vivir cada historia como si fueras tu mismo, sencillo de leer para nada denso con un lenguaje propio de un buen libro de CF lleno de tecnología. No vais a encontrar una historia al uso con un comienzo nudo y desenlace, se nos cuenta la historia personal de cada uno de los peregrinos y los motivos que les han empujado a llevar a cabo su viaje hacia Hyperion y a su encuentro con el Alcaudón. Cada una de las historias forma un todo bastante impresionante original y sorprendente. Las hay para todos los gustos. Si bien es cierto que no todos los relatos me han cautivado en igual medida, si me han gustado en lineas generales bastante, excepto partes que me han parecido un poco más paradas o momentos irrelevantes, me ha encantado su originalidad. Pues el señor, Dan Simmons, no da puntada sin hilo. Cada uno de los elementos, circunstancias y motivos que van tomando forma en el libro van teniendo un nexo común y una razón de ser aunque, en un principio, pueda parecer que no. Secretos oscuros, misterios, muerte, dudas, motivos, deseos.

"Ya no importa que se consideran los dueños de los acontecimientos. Los eventos ya no obedecen a sus amos"

Para todos aquellos que os dé miedo comenzar una lectura de estas características, por si es liosa y densa, os diré que se lee bastante bien y que no os desaniméis. Tal vez, sea un libro más adecuado para amantes de la CF o lectores con cierto recorrido, pero honestamente creo que Los Cantos los puede leer cualquiera que se sienta atraído por la obra, y que lo vais a entender todo perfectamente. Me flipa la CF pero mi recorrido comenzó hace poco con los grandes del género, por consejo de un buen amigo el siempre presente, Xabi, deje "Hyperion" para algo más adelante y leer algo más de este género antes de adentrarme en ésta interesante y oscura historia. Debo decir que ha sido un camino interesante, nada denso o difícil de comprender.

"Las palabras se doblan en nuestro pensamiento a los caminos infinitos del auto-engaño, y el hecho de que pasamos la mayor parte de nuestras vidas mentales en mansiones cerebrales construidas de palabras significa que nos falta la objetividad necesaria para ver la terrible distorsión de la realidad que aporta el lenguaje"

En cuanto a que sea una tetralogía, es algo que también puede echar para atrás a más de uno, os diré que los dos primeros libros, "Hyperion" y "La caída de Hyperion", conforman una única historia pero se ha editado en dos libros. Y, los otros dos libros: "Endymion" y "El ascenso de Endymion", se pueden leer independientes pues los sucesos que se nos narraran en estos tienen lugar unos doscientos años después, ya con nuevos personajes. Ciencia Ficción pura en mayúsculas.

"A veces hay una delgada línea que separa el celo ortodoxo de la apostasía"

La construcción de todos los personajes desde los protagonistas a secundarios, es excepcional. Los escenarios que vamos pasando en este libro nos trasporta a otros mundos llamativos además sin explicaciones demasiado extensas, pero sí logran meternos por completo en la historia. Dándonos a conocer unos escenarios fantásticos y magníficos. 🌌

Y, por supuesto, a lo largo de la historia de cada peregrino hay elementos de la historia general sobre para mi lo mejor del libro, el Alcaudón. Cada aparición suya da ese toque épico, brutal, oscuro e imparable pues no conoce la misericordia. Tenemos a el soldado, el sacerdote, el poeta, la detective, el capitán, el cónsul, el erudito, ¿Qué les relaciona a todos con el Alcaudón y las Tumbas del Tiempo?, ¿Por qué están en esta última peregrinación? ¿Qué secretos guardan y cuáles son sus deseos?, ¿Qué es el Alcaudón?. Tantas preguntas que solo hallaremos respuestas leyendo "Los Cantos de Hyperion". Yo me voy urgentemente a por el siguiente, La Caída de Hyperion.

Mis queridos amigos y amigas, no luchéis, no hay escapatoria posible, uniros a la Iglesia del Alcaudón.. 🙇‍♂️

"Para ser un verdadero poeta es necesario convertirse en Dios"
Profile Image for Wick Welker.
Author 6 books383 followers
August 4, 2021
A science fiction and literary masterpiece.

What was I doing with my life before I read Hyperion? As a huge science fiction and fantasy reader, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what science fiction was capable of but wow did this book completely blow away all expectations.

How does one even begin to talk about this masterpiece? I could start with the masterful and subverting storytelling or the bottomless well of characterization. Or how about the subtle yet overarching world building and dozens of sci fi tropes expertly woven throughout? Hyperion is so many things and above everything it is a story about time, love, regret and horror.

I’ll start right off with the prose--it’s phenomenal. Simmons cuts the fat, describes what needs to be described without being indulgent. He instantly can create an entire planet, shade it in with a culture and then place the character set pieces to engage. He’s economical with his words when he needs to be and layers in the pretty words with impeccable literary timing. The dialogue is real and the scenes are framed perfectly. Hyperion is at once a single story but also separate vignettes, a la Canterbury Tales, each contributing to one another and the overall arc of the story. If at first you don’t think this kaleidoscope story-telling doesn’t work, just wait for it because believe me, it all comes together brilliantly.

Barbarians, we call them, while all the while we timidly cling to our Web like Visigoths crouching in the ruins of Rome's faded glory and proclaim ourselves civilized.

The world building—excuse me—worlds building is an enormous achievement. Without infodumping, Simmons unfurls a sprawling intergalactic hegemony where humanity spans dozens of planets many thousands of years in the future. Of course he’s not the first to do this but here’s what he achieves: he makes this future social construct of humans actually feel familiar. And how? Because he leaves vestiges of Old Earth (current day) littered through the story from poets like Keats to common world religions including Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The degradation and transformation of these modern-day cultural pillars is fascinating. Yeah, catholic priests are still around but they are not up to things you might think. This book is full of prophetic dreams and visions that bring a welcome mysticism that hangs beautifully over a hard sci-fi backdrop.

It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.

The world building is subtle, coming in at different angles and not slamming the reader with rigid boundaries and arcane history. The building is organic and there is one thing Simmons does that others fail at: the fancy sci-fi worldbuilding isn’t just a gimmick with a flimsy plot. The world building isn’t even what makes this book so good! And don’t get me started on the multitude of amazing sci fi elements throughout these pages: time travel, relativity, entropy, reverse aging, space travel, multi planet governments, AI overlords, robotic secession, cyberpunk, time travel warfare, alien space battles and much more.

Words are the only bullets in truth's bandolier. And poets are the snipers.

Here are the other things Hyperion is: an erotic romance, a tragic romance, a trans robotic romance!, a noir, a slasher film, a psychological horror, a requiem, an uprising of natives, a story about imperialism and rebellion, a political thriller, a writer chasing his muse and so much more. Now you wouldn’t think that throwing all these elements together would work at all but guess what? It does, really, really well. And that is why this book is so brilliant. Hyperion is both epic in its scope yet able to find balance and have a main plotline where everything comes together.

It no longer matters who consider themselves the masters of events. Events no longer obey their masters.

Above all, Hyperion is simply a beautiful book about a group of strangers on a mysterious pilgrimage whose past lives not only inform the ongoing plot but serve to enrich characterization and character dynamics. I’ve never read anything like this and it is going on the tippy top of my masterpiece shelf. I cannot wait to read the rest and I can’t recommend this book enough. Please, this needs to rocket up your TBRs. This is easily one of the best science fiction books I've ever read.
Profile Image for Penny.
172 reviews348 followers
April 29, 2014
When people rave about this book they should really mention that it doesn't have a real ending! Sure it was an enjoyable bunch of stories and all, but I was reading them in the context of learning about the characters before the big showdown at the end of the book. I guess that only happens in the next book.

I also found the description of the settings overdone and a bit indulgent. These sections became very easy to spot as they tend to be at the beginning of a chapter or new story. I found myself skimming over them.

That said I did enjoy the majority of this book. I liked the characters and their stories. I'm not sure the first story made for a good introduction since in my mind it is the least interesting and felt the longest. So for anyone who picks this up and finds it a bit slow to get going I'd recommend getting past the priest's tale before you make a judgement.

I'm keen to read the next in the series since the confrontation at the "end" of this book was what I was so looking forward to. But seriously grumble mutter about the ending of this one.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
737 reviews1,259 followers
December 14, 2016
“Hyperion” was an interesting book, but it’s difficult to convey what the story was about in a summary. It’s one of those books that gradually reveals its purposes as the plot progresses. In a nutshell, a handful of POV characters journey to Hyperion – an enigma of a world made even more mysterious by the presence of the Shrike (see cover for visual – it’s the big metallic being). As each character expands on their connection to this world, you start to get a sense of what’s really going on.

“Hyperion” is definitely a thought-provoking book. Although it started out with heavy religious overtones (the first perspective being the religious POV), it soon captured my imagination with a complex mystery and only got more engaging from there. It was not a feel-good story. It was the kind of gritty, morbid tale that kept me page-turning well into the night despite the ever growing knot in my stomach. Then it kept me up even longer as my brain tried to sort out all the information learned about this world, the Shrike, and their effects on time itself. It’s ironically exhausting… and kind of brilliant.

Time manipulation in stories is a tricky thing. It can go from a clever idea to convoluted in a heartbeat. I often find myself finishing such books or shows slightly confused, wondering if I missed a critical detail somewhere or if the author just failed to communicate it clearly (it’s usually a bit of both). In “Hyperion,” Simmons did a decent job of presenting his concept in segments which were easier to digest. In fact, his overall presentation of all pertinent information was very carefully placed and effective. It allowed me to build my own theories alongside the characters based on every new revelation. That’s the sort of engaging interaction I always enjoy within books. Overall, it’s one of the better conceptual time-manipulation novels I’ve ever read.

Another note in “Hyperion’s” favor was its timelessness. It was written when I was 4 years old (O_o) yet read as though it was written within the last couple of years (and will likely do so for many to come). It illustrated just how smart Dan Simmons is at story construction. Surmising from just the text, Simmons comes across as a very well read, intelligent person. It was awesome to pick up on all the literary references throughout the plot, and I’ve always been impressed with authors who can present POV characters with such integral differences in perspective on complex issues such as religion and politics, and do so convincingly. I have no idea where the author’s personal stances are on these issues, and that something I oddly love about his writing.

I can easily see why classic sci-fi lovers rave about this book and defend their 5 star ratings to the ends of the earth. My conservative 3 star rating, however, hopefully conveys appreciation for the book while acknowledging that it didn’t quite blow me away on all accounts. I think the culprit might be the fact that there’s no silver lining or hope in this book. It definitely doesn’t leave you with anything but gloom and that aforementioned knot in your stomach. Now, I don’t need books to be about butterflies and rainbows to enjoy them, but I do need at least a tiny ray of sunshine to give me hope that the story could end well and that the characters are working towards something meaningful. Part of this can be attributed to the format of this first book – the multiple POVs were presented in a reflectional format where all the focus was on what came before. While interesting, it didn’t leave a lot of room for plot advancement, and in fact made most of the book read like a collection of prequel novellas leading up to the actual beginning of the story.

Overall, I liked “Hyperion” but it didn’t land among my favorites. It is still an awesome contribution to classic sci-fi and worth your time if you like the genre.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.nikihawkes.com
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews315 followers
December 22, 2014
Still singing loudly, not looking back, matching stride for stride, they descended into the valley.

This first novel in the Hyperion Cantos easily surpassed any sci-fi I've ever read. While the presence of cool space-ships, strange planets and gun-fights in space are all going to be familiar to fans of the genre the typical adventures, rebellions and funny/evil aliens are nowhere to be found. Instead we get a tale of incredible complexity, deep, brilliantly realized world building and a mature and intelligent exploration of morality, philosophy and what it means to be human with a ridiculous amount of allusions to the great works of literature ingrained throughout the story for good measure. 6 tales effortlessly segue between times, places and even genres but all contribute to our understanding of this world, an incredibly complex and layered vision of humanity hundreds of years in the future and to a gripping plot filled with danger and mystery. These are the stories told by a group of Pilgrim's on their way to meet with a mysterious being who may be an angel of salvation for humanity or the agent of it's destruction.

The main narrative of this story concerns 6 mysterious pilgrims on a journey to meet with a dangerous and powerful entity while the galaxy at large teeters on the cusp of destruction. However this plotline mostly just served as a framing device for the stories of the 6 pilgrims. Despite what was ostensibly the main story being reduced to interludes between the tales I still found these sections to be enjoyable. There was danger, mystery and some cool world-building but mostly these sections served to set up the Pilgrim’s tales and to help the reader process them.

The Priest's Tale - 5 Stars

This story used a weird narrative frame with the Priest pilgrim reading from the journal of a missionary. The start of this tale was interesting with an ageing priest on a journey to find a mysterious people in an isolated rain forest. After reaching his target I thought the plot slowed down a bit however just as I was starting to lose interest there was a massive reveal and from then on this story was extremely intense and compelling, filled with revelations, suspense and mystical overtones. The ending was extremely moving. A major theme in this story was the exploration of the place of religion in society and I thought it was handled in a really intelligent and interesting way.

The Soldier's Tale - 3.5 Stars

I found Kassad to be the most interesting of the pilgrims in the interlude sections so I was really psyched for his tale. Unfortunately it proved to be a disappointment. After a great start with a gripping and surprisingly historically accurate portrayal of the Battle of Agincourt the rest of this section felt rushed. A number of important events in Kassad’s life are recounted in a dry, perfunctory manner. I thought that his childhood and his involvement in the Battle of Bressia especially could have made for great sections and I was really disappointed that they were so lazily glossed over. These sections definitely could have been expanded (although tbf I would have been happy if his entire story had just been a series of intense, realistic recreations of historical battles like Agincourt at the start…). However this story did have some cool action scenes at the end and I found the exploration of how the military, it’s culture and role in society had developed in this world to be really interesting although, again, it felt rushed and should have had more screen-time.

The Poet's Tale - 5 Stars

I wasn’t expecting much from my least favourite pilgrim but the poet’s story was in turns gripping, funny and moving. The poet narrated his story brilliantly with inventive descriptions, distinctive methods of storytelling and wry observations. The story itself reminded me of a really good memoir with the Poet taking us through his life from his indulged but isolated childhood to being sent hundreds of years into the future with his vocabulary reduced to 7 (hilarious) words where he produced his finest work to his meteoric rise to fame and struggles with all that came with it. The Poet’s tale was a stark counterpoint to the Soldier’s. While it lacked on paper anywhere near as much action as the story that preceded it, this tale was brilliantly written to be fleshed out and engaging. This story also had 2 great characters in the form of the Poet’s tough, acerbic editor and the awkward, stuttering and ultimately heroic Sad King Billy.

The Scholar's Tale - 5 Stars

A friend of mine observed in his review of this book that (paraphrasing) no matter how much weird sci-fi stuff is going on the human element is always the beating heart of the story. That was shown nowhere better than in this tale. This story opens with a brief overview of the early life of Professor Sol Weintraub. The author paints a vivid picture of his contentment in his job and home and most importantly his warm and loving family. However that all changes when his 26 year old daughter travels to the planet of Hyperion and begins to age backwards. This story could have easily been written as a simple oddity or wrung for all of the drama the author could manage, but neither of these things happened , instead this is an understated story of sacrifice and family with an undertone of humour and warmth even at it’s most tragic.

The Detective's Tale - 5 Stars

The Detetive’s tale started out as a pretty formulaic crime story but developed into something more. The story opens with a beautiful stranger walking into the office of a tough P.I. with a request to investigate a murder. I’m not particularly fond of or familiar with the Detective genre so it was only in reading a review after finishing the book that I realised that there was a cool subversion in that the tough P.I. was a woman and the stranger a guy. Anyway the start was pretty dull (although fans of the genre might like it) but as the story progresses it improves dramatically. The world-building with regards to the AI Technocore and it’s politics was awesome and I suspect will be really important in the rest of the series. The ending was also great with some epic action scenes.

The Consul's Tale - 3.5 Stars

This tale got off to a really weird start with prelude that was a story within the story about a character we’ve not seen before in the story. Also the story skips around in no chronological order. Mindfuck. Anyway the prelude (which ultimately takes up about 2/3rds of this tale) came together fairly well for a finish. The narrator was kind of a selfish dick, but his best mate Mike was cool and funny and his love interest Siri was awesome- strong, wise and compassionate. Her only real fault was putting up with the annoying protagonist so much. The second half of the story was a recap of the Consul’s life. While it had some really cool revelations that put a lot of the grand politics in a much different and more complex light it also rushed and forced, much like the Soldier’s tale earlier. The two parts that especially could have benefitted from more exploration were his family and his relationship with the Ouster’s. In his POV’s in the interludes we’ve been teased with the mysterious, tragic death of his son years earlier which sent him into self-destructive spiral of alcoholism. And yet all we really get in his story is ‘I got married, had a kid, a while later they died. I was bummed out, honestly hadn’t been that sad since my pet dolphin died when the Hegemony colonised my home world. Flipper will be avenged! Sorry where was I?’. Also after being told for the entire duration of the book that the Ouster’s are evil bloodthirsty savages the Consul tells us that they apparently have an incredibly rich culture but doesn’t bother to spend more than a few lines exploring it.

Overall this was a great read; the depth of the world-building, the complexity of the plot and the intelligent exploration of morality, religion and the place of humanity in the world has raised the bar for any sci-fi I read in the future and I’m really interested to see where Dan Simmons takes this series from here.

Profile Image for Adrian.
570 reviews210 followers
November 28, 2018
An interesting book. It has been recommended to me a number of times, and seeing as I had a copy, I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about and read it.
Did I enjoy it, yes, was it what i expected, no, not really. As a book it is basically a scene setter for the sequels, yes a few things happen, but the majority of the book is the back story (and history) of the main characters in the book.
Now this sounds a little boring, BUT, it is in fact a great way to start a wide-ranging space opera series. The back history includes a huge amount of "world" (read Universe) building, including, both technology and the main players both good and bad. But which ones are which, we are given glimpses, backgrounds and descriptions of opposing political forces and dynasties as well as religious factions, and off-shoots of the human race.
All in all, an amazing amount of background setting that leads you nicely to the first sequel, which I now have to buy as I have to know what happens next.
So now I know what all the fuss is about. A very solid 4+ stars ⭐️
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,529 reviews979 followers
May 15, 2019
The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below.

I thought I was well-read in the genre, having tackled most of the big names in the 80's and early 90's, but somehow I missed out on the saurian in the room. WOW!!! I can't remember the last time I was so amazed at a new series, instantly jumping into the next book after I read the last page of this one and marking it as one of my All-Time Top 5. (Actually, I vaguely remember reading the first page of the prologue back when it was first published and sneering at the florid language and at the fantasy vibes, which show what kind of pretentious punk I was back then)

We need your help. It is essential that the secrets of the Time Tombs and the Shrike be uncovered. This pilgrimage may be our last chance. If the Ousters conquer Hyperion, their agent must be eliminated and the Time Tombs sealed at all cost. The fate of the Hegemony may depend upon it.

The Consul is interrupted from his melancholic musings by an urgent holographic message, weirdly similar in tone to the one Luke Skywalker received one day, calling him to save the Galaxy from the evil Empire. The main difference here is that the Consul is an old, disillusioned man that feels he has already done his duty for the Hegemony. But I'm getting slightly ahead of the story... Let's try to decode that message for first time readers:

The Hegemony is the current structure controlling more than two hundred inhabited planets after humankind was forced to abandon Earth in the wake of a physical experiment gone horribly wrong. To do this, the Hegemony relies on the Hawkins drive, a FTL technology that has the drawback of stretching time for the crew and passengers, on Farcaster portals that allow instant travel between worlds previously connected, on an implant- and commlog-based galaxy-wide-web of instant communication and on the TechnoCore, an assembly of Artificial Intelligences that have emancipated themselves from human control yet continue to help the Hegemony with these technologies that make travel, commerce and communication between star systems possible.

The Ousters are the part of humanity that preferred to live in freefall, among 'swarms' of spaceships and asteroids, instead of colonizing new planets. They serve the role of barbarians at the gates in the economy of the novel, the military threat to the Hegemony.

Hyperion is where the 'gates' currently are, the nexus where the forces of the Hegemony and of the Ousters converge for the battle to control the ultimate mystery of the Galaxy. The planet is currently an independent backward piece of real estate, colonized first by agricultural settlers and next by a bunch of poets led by Sad King Billy. What makes Hyperion special are :

The Time Tombs , a series of ruins that travel back in Time !!! and
The Shrike , a Frankenstein monster that hunts humans for fun and impales them eternally on a tree of thorns.

With only days left before the beginning of hostilities, the Hegemony petitions the local Church of the Shrike to allow a set of seven pilgrims to travel to the Time Tombs and there to petition the Shrike to grant them one wish. The catch? According to church gospel, the Shrike will only answer one and kill all the rest.

Among us we represent islands of time as well as separate oceans of perspective. Or perhaps more aptly put, each of us may hold a piece to a puzzle no one else has been able to solve since humankind first landed on Hyperion.

What I have written so far represents only the frame story, and the first layer of meaning for the novel. Each of the pilgrims, as they travel to their doom, will tell his or her back story, hoping that it will help the others understand why they were chosen from among billions of other people, and what they expect from the Shrike. What have a catholic priest, an army colonel, a poet, a scholar, a templar/ecologist, a private investigator and a politician have in common? And who among them is a traitor to the Hegemony?

Let's hear from everyone before the contributors start getting chopped and diced by that ambulatory food processor we're so eager to visit.

With each story we learn not only about the fate of the individual pilgrim, but also more about the big picture, exactly like the puzzle referenced earlier. Yet the stories often raise more questions than they answer. For me, the key is not necessarily in the parallels to the Decameron or the Canterbury Tales, although they are apt, but in the more obscure yet stronger pointers towards "The Dying Earth" by Jack Vance and the poet John Keats, who himself started an unfinished poem named 'Hyperion'

I retitled my poem The Hyperion Cantos . It was not about the planet, but about the passing of the self-styled Titans called humans. It was about the unthinking hubris of a race which dared to murder its homeworld through sheer carelessness and then carried that dangerous arrogance to the stars, only to meet the wrath of a god which humanity had helped to sire.

The true scope of the novel is then nothing less than the survival or extinction of the whole human race. Do we deserve the stars? Can there be a God in our future, and if there is one, will it be benevolent towards our multiple sins? While this axiom may be true for a lot of other epic science-fiction series, Dan Simmons truly shines here in the combination of technology with metaphysics, of poetry mixed with character study, in the multitude of layers and literary references that are both demanding and respectful of the reader's intelligence. Hyperion is much more than just a Star Wars clone.

I am tempted to leave out as many details as I can from each pilgrim's story, letting the readers make their own choices for meaning or reason for inclusion in the overall puzzle. I believe each of them represents an avatar of humanity, a personification of a potential path to redemption.

As usual, the priests stand in for faith and surrender of individual will to the greater good. Yet when Fathers Paul Dure and Lenar Hoyt come to the planet Hyperion they are shaken to their very core. The crucifixion, redemption through pain and even resurrection all play a part in the drama that unfolds as they come face to face with the Shrike.

"There has to be more," I said, although I felt little conviction. Paul Dure may reference here a need for life to have a direction, a higher purpose than simply survival.

Fedmahn Kassad, the next pilgrim to confess, is probably the easiest to decode. He is the belief that all problems can be solved by Force, can be blasted into oblivion. Yet during his long and bloody career in the Hegemony FORCE, he repeatedly comes face to face with a beautiful ghost, until Kassad too visits Hyperion and meets the Shrike.

Your past. My future. The shock wave of events moves across time like ripples on a pond.

Martin Silenus is provocative and often obscure, but his tale is the most revealing about the original destruction of the Earth when a black hole is accidentally sent towards the planet's core.

From my earliest sense of 'self', I knew that I would be – should be – a poet. It was not as if I had a choice; more like the dying beauty all about breathed its last breath in me and commanded that I be doomed to play with words the rest of my days, as if in expiation for our race's thoughtless slaughter of its crib world. So what the hell; I became a poet.

Silenus wants to know if we deserve to be saved, or at least he wants to chronicle our fall from grace. He too has previously visited Hyperion in the entourage of Sad King Billy and his long epic poem is unfinished. Will the Titans (humankind) be replaced by the Shrike (whatever that monster represents) ? Silenus gives us one of the first descriptions of the monster, even as he fails to explain his motivations other than on the allegorical plane.

The blur resolved itself into a head out of a jolt addict's nightmare: a face part steel, part chrome, and part skull, teeth like a mechanized wolf's crossed with a steam shovel, eyes like ruby lasers burning through blood-filled gems, forehead penetrated by a curved spike-blade rising thirty centimeters from a quicksilver skull, and a neck ringed with similar thorns. [...]
He hangs around the Time Tombs waiting to come out and wreak havoc when it's mankind's time to join the dodo and the gorilla and the sperm whale on the extinction Hit Parade list.

As a side note, Silenus talks also about the art of the novel, giving us one of the secrets for a successful epic (his own string of commercial success was a series called "The Dying Earth"):

Dislinear plotting and noncontiguous prose have their adherents, not the least of which am I, but in the end, my friends, it is character which wins or loses immortality upon the vellum.

Sol Weintraub is for me an avatar of a future humanity that has no need for gods, unless you consider humanism and Reason / common sense another form of religion. A professor at a famous university on an underdeveloped agricultural planet, Weintraub is pulled into the web of the Shrike when his daughter Rachel is infected by an incurable disease while on an archeological dig at the Time Tombs. Sol is drawn back to his Jewish roots by the incident, as he tries to reason out the purpose of God in harming his daughter.

Sol realized one day that the topics of the heated debates were so profound, the stakes to be settled so serious, the ground covered so broad, that the only person he could possibly be berating for such shortcomings was God Himself. [...]
Sol Weintraub had come to a single, unshakable conclusion: any allegiance to a deity or concept or universal principal which put obedience above decent behavior towards an innocent human being was evil.

Brawne Lamia is a private investigator hired by a person who claims to have been murdered before coming to her dingy office. How is that even possible? Apparently it is so, if the person is a 'cybrid' , a human clone with its brain controlled by the TechnoCore, the rogue artificial intelligences that have emancipated themselves. The fact that the genetic material for cloning comes from the same John Keats poet adds more food for thought in the growing puzzle. With the additional question of whether the AI still needs humans in order to pursue its own secret goals.

The Consul is the last to take the stand, but instead of telling his own story he mesmerizes his audience with a love story to defy time and space between an astronaut spending most of his time at FTL speeds and the woman who ages rapidly as she waits for him on a planet not yet connected to the web and the Hegemony. It is also a cautionary tale about a dominant culture that destroys both the environment and the diversity of different worldviews. The planet Maui Covenant is modeled both on the geography and the fate of the original tribes of Hawaii, a lost Garden of Eden.

As the pilgrims switch means of transport from a treeship to a riverboat pulled by giant manta rays, on a landship pushed by winds over an ocean of grass, then high over frozen peaks on cable cars and finally to a derelict castle in front of the Time Tombs, we are left to ponder what have learned so far? That humanity has destroyed its homeworld, and now it embarks on a war that can engulf the whole known colonized space. And that a God-like mysterious figure that may have been sent back from the future waits in judgement. Which of the pilgrims will receive the Shrike's answer?

But who is the wizard?
And what is Oz?
And just who is off to see this wizard?

So many questions left me with no other option than to start immediately on book two (I have the omnibus edition.) As I write this review, I have already finished reading "The Fall of Hyperion" and all I have to say is : double WOW !!!
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