Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1)
By: Dan Simmons
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
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.
At long last, I am getting around to reading this book. Hyperion was one of those classics I long heard about but of course I’m notoriously behind when it comes to reading science fiction classics (despite loving the genre). I had picked it up early this year with the aim to actually get around to reading it, which I finally did over the summer.
Guys, why didn’t I get around to reading this sooner? It was such a fascinating read, grabbed me right from the start. The idea of the Shrike and their metal killing tree god was absolutely creepy, and the concept of the pilgrimage amidst this growing unrest in the universe was fascinating. As I was telling someone in Instagram, the book is not terribly dense–it’s definitely timey-wimey with the way the Time Tombs work and the weird things that are happening because of it/the Shrike/whatever is going on in Hyperion, but it’s not so complex or hard science that after putting it down I couldn’t pick it back up again (I read most of the book during my breaks at work).
But what really blew me away about this book was despite the science fiction elements, at the heart of the book was really the humanity of it all–of exploration and mystery, suffering and love. There’s a Canterbury Tales approach to this novel, something I was not aware of going into it that added to my delight of the story: each of the pilgrims heading to Hyperion come from different backgrounds and professions, and along the way they tell their story and what brought them on the Pilgrimage. Their stories were interesting, the mystery of Hyperion and what they want out of the Shrike looming, and they kept me glued to the book and turning the page. Some stories interested me more than others, like the Priest’s tale, the Poet’s tale (hah), and the Scholar’s tale (which hands down was my favourite from all of their stories as his just broke my heart…And then I remembered I was in public reading this book, so).
In terms of plot, it’s not wholly resolved by the end of the book, but I had a feeling that was going to be the case given the mere premise of the novel and the way the story flowed from there. Thank goodness there’s a second volume in the cantos, but overall Hyperion was quite the read. Again, I can’t believe I didn’t get around to reading it sooner, I cannot recommend it enough for readers of science fiction. Not to be missed!