I just finished Hyperion


I listened to the first Hyperion novel on Audible.

It was an interesting storytelling tactic having the multiple storytellers flesh out the worldbuilding. But maybe I’m getting a bit picky in my old age – where was the climactic ending? I’m more used to huge, sprawling worldbuilding while also enjoying realistic characters with clear motivations trying to achieve their goals. After reading lots of Peter F Hamilton, I’m used to a space opera ending at a frenetic pace with all sorts of setups paying off with great reveals, twists and turns – but when well told – it all looks inevitable in hindsight.

Hyperion is not like that. It’s 6 people on a journey to the terrifying religious time-tombs where the Shrike monster lives. These 6 characters decide on their pilgrimage that they should share all their tales – so that they’re properly briefed and prepared to meet the Shrike. It was an interesting way to explain characters and build the world. But the side-effect is that the majority of the book is past-tense – a collection of stories that already happened. These were good enough mini-stories – and I’m glad I experienced that world. There really are some unforgettable moments. But where is the grand climactic resolution?

If the next 3 books are of a similar style of a collection of past-tense stories, I might move onto another author.

Disclaimer: this might say more about me having certain expectations and tastes than anything truly insightful about Dan Simmon’s writing. I’m just a sucker for the big finish.

Related: this Goodreads review is one of the funniest reviews I’ve read about mind-melting Sci-Fi. Hyperion didn’t melt my brain this bad as it is from 1989, and I’ve read a lot of post-1989 mind-bending Cyberpunk written since. It’s got a lot weirder out there since Hyperion was written. But this is a great description of when Sci-Fi cooks your noodle.

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!”
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