Hyperion

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US paperback.

Hyperion is a science fiction novel by Dan Simmons published in 1989. The story revolves around a back-world planet named Hyperion which features the ruins of an ancient civilization long since extinct. The ruins are known as the Time Tombs, and some remaining time-altering technology emanates from them even though the tombs are entirely empty. The planet was colonized and the Time Tombs became something of a tourist destination, but recently people started turning up horribly murdered. The murders were being attributed to a terrible monster called the Shrike which seems to defy physics and a cult has risen around it. As the remaining inhabitants of the planet scramble to leave, seven strangers come to Hyperion as pilgrims, none of them followers of the cult, but each of them have somehow become tangled up in the religion and are now seeking answers.

I found this book ranked fairly high on a list of best science fiction so I read it and finished it on 2016-05-11.

Status

I do not own this book, but have listened to an audio book recording.

Review

Good

  • I was impressed at how unique each pilgrim's back story was from the others. Each one was an entirely new story focusing on different elements of psychology and philosophy.
  • The various descriptions of the Shrike make for an impressive and terrifying monster.

Bad

  • While I generally found the book to be entertaining, nothing stood out to me as especially exciting, and I found my interest waning at times.
  • The whole war between the Luddite Ousters and the imperial Hegemony seems tacked-on, probably because we don't learn much about it until the end of the book. Sure, the Ousters don't want to live under AI control, and for good reason because of what the Hegemony did, but there isn't any explanation for why they did it in the first place. Also, if the Techno Core is conquering the galaxy by wiping out anything too intelligent, why do they bother to keep humans alive at all? It's as though the AIs are too stupid to realize a race of cybrids would be vastly superior.
  • Excluding Hyperion, the Time Tombs, the Shrike, and the mysterious cube, most of the book's technology is just a flashier version of today's or standard sci-fi fare (plasma weapons instead of bullets). I think the book could have been set in today's time without much change to the plot.
  • A lot of the allusions felt wasted on me as I hadn't read anything from Keats before reading Hyperion, and he features heavily throughout the book.

Ugly

  • It felt like the book had too many messages. Anti-imperialism, AI rights, environmentalism, technological complacency, time dilation among loved ones, etc. I later found this is so because the book is comprised of several independent short stories, all merged together. This greatly injures the overall continuity of the book.
  • The ending is unacceptable. I'm all for leaving a book open for a sequel, but this one doesn't have an ending. As I neared the end of the book, I kept thinking, "he better wrap this up soon," and, "he's not leaving much room to clean up all these loose ends," and finally, "he better not leave me hanging!" Sure enough, just as the characters are about to encounter the Shrike, the books ends. What happens to the infant Rachel? What happens to Brawne carrying Johnny? Does Silenus finish his cantos? I know this is a series, and I have to read the next book to find out, but failing to finish any of the main plots is inexcusable. This leaves me with very little desire to continue to series as I now expect it will happen again with the next book.

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