The Fall of Hyperion

Wow! I can't believe I waited this long to finally read this book!

Though I owned a few Dan Simmons novels, by 2010 I had yet to read Hyperion, the award-winning work which has become a genre landmark. My bad, I know. . . So when I was caught in a sudden downpour in the Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, like everyone else I ran for it and entered the first store I saw. Fortunately for me, it turned out to be a bookstore. Even better, I was running out of reading material and still had a ways to go before completing my trip in the Balkans. So I browsed around, waiting for the rain to stop. Perusing the SFF section, something drew my attention. I wasn't aware that Gollancz had released an Hyperion omnibus, and I needed very little convincing to purchase it. I later met a bunch of cool people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then again in Serbia, so I didn't read a whole lot during the rest of that trip. Which means that I didn't get to read it till I was back home. I bought it, so now I had to read Hyperion. I mean, when a science fiction work is compared to Frank Herbert's Dune in scope and originality, what else can one do?

I loved it, of course, and I planned to read the sequel in the following weeks. So why are we here, seven years later? Because I'm an idiot, that's why! Well, better late than never, or so they say. The important thing is that I finally read The Fall of Hyperion and it was awesome!

Here's the blurb:

In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. On the world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing--nothing anywhere in the universe--will ever be the same.

The structure of the narrative in Hyperion was extremely unusual. Akin to that of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, it worked perfectly, but it took a little while to get used to. Indeed, not much occurred in "real time" throughout the novel. Which was mostly due to the fact that Hyperion was nothing more than a vast introduction meant to present the protagonists and set up the various storylines for their culmination in The Fall of Hyperion. Hence, Hyperion was not so much about the pilgrims' journey to the Time Tombs and the Shrike. In the end, it was about each of the main character's back story, which elaborated on their reasons for becoming part of the pilgrimage to Hyperion. This sequel features a more traditional narrative structure, but for some reason it's not as compelling as that of its predecessor. Indeed, the unorthodox structure of Hyperion allowed a tighter and more intimate focus on each of the pilgrim's tale.

The imminent war between the Hegemony and the Ousters serves as the backdrop for The Fall of Hyperion. Joseph Severin's dreams are used as a plot device to link the plotlines transpiring on Hyperion with that of CEO Meina Gladstone as she attempts to avert war with the Ousters and the repercussions it could have on the Hegemony as a whole. I loved how Simmons was able to weave each of the pilgrim's storyline into that bigger and more far-reaching arc. And as revelations are unveiled and you discover just how ambitious a work these two books are in both scope and vision, you understand just how epic Dan Simmons' classic truly is. You reach the end thinking that you have just read one of the very best science fiction works ever written. This tale of Hegemony worlds, conniving AIs, strange aliens and the Ousters, the pilgrims, the Time Tombs, and the Shrike is everything a great scifi yarn ought to be and then some!

This atypical structure of Hyperion influenced the pace of that novel. Depending on the pilgrim's back story, the rhythm could be crisp or sluggish. Yet Dan Simmons' evocative prose and multilayered tale sucked you in, regardless of the fact that it was page-turning or not. The Fall of Hyperion doesn't suffer from any pacing issues. With the groundwork already laid out within the pages of its predecessor, the sequel is all killer and no filler. As the plot progresses and its many secrets revealed, this book makes for a compulsive and captivating read.

Moving, thought-provoking, entertaining, astonishing; Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are all that and more!

Science fiction novels don't always age well. And yet, though these books were first published nearly thirty years ago, they deserve the highest possible recommendation. Believe you me: It doesn't get much better than this!

The final verdict: 9/10

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2 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Will you be reading the next two in the series? Some people trash them but I thought they were pretty good

pattirose said...

One of the best books I've ever read - the series that is.