Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Fall of Hyperion Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Dan Simmons
Publisher: DoubleDay
Genre: Space Opera
Series: Hyperion Cantos Book Two
Pages: 528

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(Spoilers for Hyperion are below).

A must read if you’ve just finished Hyperion, and were like “wait, that’s the ending?” The Fall of Hyperion provides the conclusion to that narrative, but in a completely new format.  Gone is the Chaucer inspired structure from the last book, and instead a more traditional approach to storytelling is used.

The Pilgrim’s have arrived at the time tombs on Hyperion and were last seen skipping off into the sunset singing some music from the Wizard of Oz. Their confrontation with the Shrike will likely be the death of all of them. At Tau Ceti Center, capital of the Hegemony, President Meina Gladstone prepares for war with the Ousters.  Joseph Severn, an alias used by the twin cybrid of John Keats – the same John Keats from Brawne Lamia’s story – is summoned by Meina for political input about the war.  Unbeknownst to him, he’s also being summoned by Meina to inform her about pilgrims’ whereabouts, which is something he can see via real time in his dreams.

I had hard time determining whether or not to include this book with my Hyperion review.  They are telling the same continuous story after all, but the formats are so different that I felt this needed a review on its own.  That being said though, I’m going to score them as if they were one continuous story.  As much as I liked The Fall of Hyperion, I still find myself attached more to the first book.

The big addition here is the new John Keats. I have to admit this seemed a bit redundant, but the story isn’t too focused on what the new John Keats is doing rather it’s focused on what the new John Keats is seeing … which turn out to be a lot of interesting things. First and foremost he’s seeing how Meina Gladstone runs the Hegemony, and that provides a lot of insight, about her and the Hegemony. By the end of the book, Meina becomes just as compelling, and more importantly as human, as the rest of the pilgrims.  She has a myriad of tough decisions to make, and Simmons never resorts to cheap “everything will work itself out and everyone will be happy,” types of parlor tricks.

The pilgrims, which were so well developed in the last book, don’t get much development this time around, but they do drive nearly all of the action in the plot. Rest assured each of them will confront the Shrike, and each pilgrim gets and ending that’s satisfying. More is revealed about the purpose of the Shrike, but it’s origins continue to remain somewhat mysterious.

The references in this book to John Keats’s epic “The Fall of Hyperion,” are a lot more obvious, too, with the humans playing the role of the Titans, and the AI representing the Olympians.  It’s a metaphor that’s truly appropriate, for this story, and truly frightening. There are some unnerving”real world” implications there, too. When it’s all said and done, if you chose to read this novel and Hyperion, you will have completed one of the best science fiction stories in existence.

Score: 10

1 comment:

  1. Endymion though. And horrible letdown of the overarching plot revealed. I loved the Hyperion books and shared your opinion of them until the author was forced to actually reveal his mysteries, which could have been simply explained by an epilogue from the priest who married the princess to the villain in The Princess Bride.

    A nice, hot serving of disappointment pie.