I’ve been working on The Mercury Dimension for a while. It’s finished, I’m working on edits and publishing it (if I ever get brave enough), and I suppose reading a lot of space sci-fi to find the best comparable works would be important. I will be reading a lot of classic space sci-fi in the near future as a result. Hyperion is a hyper-artistic work that appears on a lot of top sci-fi lists, so I sat down to read it.
Author: Dan Simmons
First published in 1989 (and it feels like it)
Published by Bantam Doubleday
Hyperion wasn’t a bad read, but neither was it good, and it definitely wasn’t satisfying. If I were more of a poetry person or into derivative works, this might have been enjoyable. Prepare to settle in for the long haul with this massive book.
This book was split into 6 chapters and structured like Chaucer’s unfinished Canterbury Tales. The structure of the book was thus odd, and I really didn’t like having such massive chapters (the thing was 181k words long – the chapters were HUGE). It was extremely artsy.
Some of the tales I thought were marvelous. The Priest’s Tale – which is placed first in the book – was my favorite. I liked the twist, and I especially loved the sci-fi soaked mystery of it. Once I read that, I was committed.
I also enjoyed the majority of the Detective’s Tale. Though less blood-soaked than other chapters, it was filled with action, suspense, and intriguing information about the universe. It finally revealed important information about the AIs in the universe and the role of the Time Tombs. It revealed why the pilgrimage ploy was so important to so many groups. At the same time, her personal tale was one of the best.
Similarly, there were low points. The Poet’s Tale bored me to tears and I had no remorse for any of the pain felt by that sot. I regretted reading that chapter. Similarly, the Soldier’s Tale was done in such a way that I was confused as to why it was important at all. I still think it could have been cut from the book and all you’d be missing is a weird chunk about murder-sex.
3/5 Discoball Snowcones
My god this book didn’t end. The entire course of the book, you’re learning about the planet Hyperion as well as the universe which the humans, AI’s, and others inhabit. It dragged along, barely having an overarching plot in this mass of separate tales.
And then… it just stopped. I should have seen it coming, what with all the hints to Keats’s unfinished poem Hyperion (I didn’t look it up – the book literally beats you over the head with Keats’s works and life like it’s a raging fanboy), but it felt completely unresolved. There is the follow-up, The Fall of Hyperion, but for some reason I feel completely fine not reading it and instead saving time by looking at summaries.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing the classic Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Psychological journeys abound in that tale, so I’m sure it will be different from Hyperion at the very least! Stay tuned!