Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

This novel ended up being excellent and compelling reading. It started out slowly for me: I like to ease into a new vocabulary and conceptual framework of a science fiction book and was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the first several pages. Had the book not been recommended by a friend, I'd probably have quit it within the first 25 pages.

I'm so pleased that I kept at it. Towards the end, I despaired at the slim number of pages left, not wanting the story to end too soon. As it did. Good news: there are three more volumes to the series.

Which isn't to say that I understand what is going on. I am clueless on several fronts.

The general notion is that there's a time travel structure on a place called Hyperion; there's also a murderous being (the Shrike).  There's an enemy race (that may not be deserving of being called the enemy), an AI structure, and a multi-world government of uncertain morality.

Seven travelers are called to a pilgrimage to Hyperion to engage with the Shrike. En route, six of them tell their life stories. That is the bulk of this book.

Mr. Simmons indicates a sometimes annoying fondness for the poet Keats. (Not coincidentally, I suppose, Hyperion is the name of an unfinished poem in Keats' collection, "Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems." Sadly, I'm a barbarian who doesn't appreciate poetry.

Things that confuse me: I don't quite understand the meanings of the many poems (both Keats' as well as Mr. Simmons'). (But that's certainly on me and not Mr. Simmons.) I don't understand what the Shrike is, or why. I don't understand the AI and its context in the universe that Mr. Simmons describes. I don't understand why many things happened or didn't happen. And yet, I really enjoyed this novel. Go figure.

I guess I'll have a shot at understanding as I read through the subsequent volumes. Meanwhile, thanks for the recommendation Jon!

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)

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