Dan Simmons


"Hyperion"

(reviewed by Judi Clark MAY 5, 1999)

Seven people are chosen by the Church of Shrike and confirmed by the All Thing for the final pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on the outback world of Hyperion. Typically, those who make this trip do not return. And this time it is believed that the Time Tombs are about to open freeing the Shrike. To complicate matters, the Ousters are on their way to stage a war to take over the planet and the interstellar Hegemony is making plans to both evacuate and protect Hyperion. 

Structured much like the Canterbury Tales,we learn the stories of each of the travelers. From the start they realize that each has been chosen because of some special knowledge and past experience with Hyperion. And so they reluctantly and painfully agree to tell their stories as they make their interesting journey. Each story is absolutely captivating. Simmons talent for telling each pilgrim's story is beyond mere imagination, for he is successful in capturing the dialect and thematic style of each of the travelers. For example, Braun Lamia is a private investigator and her tale reads like a hard-boil detective novel, albeit it's pure sci-fi. The most heart wrenching of them comes from Sol Weintraub and the story of his daughter Rachel who at the age of 26, as a field archeologist is caught in an entropic wave in the Time Tombs and is diagnosed with a new disease.  Every morning that she wakes up she is one day younger.

I received Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion for my birthday. Carl wanted to share with me just how cool a Farcaster Portal network could be.  Take the web and make it physical where one can step through a door and be on another world, another part of town or even another room in your own home and this is the web world of the Hegemony. We are getting ready to move back to a warmer climate, and I suspect that has something to do with his thinking of farcasting. The physical business of moving is not very convenient.

  • Amazon.com reader rating: from 556 reviews
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"The Fall of Hyperion"

(reviewed by Judi Clark MAY 5, 1999)

I warn you now - pick up this book when you get your copy of Hyperion. At the end of Hyperion the pilgrims are just approaching the Time Tombs. The real adventure doesn't start until The Fall of Hyperion. This is when they each meet the horrible Shrike creature. Between the events at the Time Tombs and the Hegemony's war politics over the Ouster invasion, there's a lot of tension and anticipation. I found this book a little more difficult to read because the twin of the Keats personae introduced in the first book is now the protagonist. I have never really cared for classical poetry but I didn't find this essential to understand the book since Simmons explains the connections for us. Simmons must be a very intelligent and well read man to be able to weave this futuristic novel around a classic poet.

Simmons also does us another favor. He frequently reminds the reader the background of a situation. Since I was reading these books back to back over a two week period, I sometimes found it annoying. But, I'll admit other times I was grateful. Maybe he expects a reader to take a longer break between books or take longer to read them. And if so these reminders would be necessary since there are a lot of things happening on a lot of worlds with a multitude of themes.

When Carl gave me these books he said that he thought that he might have found something that I couldn't just plow through; that I might have to stop and breath a few times while reading.  He's right.  These books are not fast reads. With both books, I had to stop and take breaks. Not only is there a lot to keep track of, but there's a lot of ideas especially about man, God and machines. I found that I had to just set the books down to think for awhile (or nap and dream).  Occasionally I had to retrace my foot steps to make sure I really understood an idea.

After reading The Fall of Hyperion, I can see why many bookstores combine Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction in one section. This epic tale clearly has elements of all of these styles. But don't let me mislead you. This masterpiece is hard-core Science Fiction, with post cyber-punk influence.

As I begin my research on these books for this web page, I find that there are TWO MORE books in this series... guess who's putting in an order with Amazon.com...

  • Amazon.com reader rating: from 158 reviews

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"Endymion"

(reviewed by Judi Clark AUG 23, 1999)

"You are reading this for the wrong reason."

That has got to the best opening paragraph ever written. Raul Endymion (his family is named after the same city as the one on Hyperion) is waiting out a death sentence in a Shrodinger's cat box in high orbit around the quarantined world of Armaghast. There is an invisible vial of poison gas, linked to the air filter system, which will be activated by a random timer. While waiting for his fate, he is writing the story of Aenea. He concedes that even if we are reading it for the wrong reason, at least we are doing it since the reason for doing something is not as important as just doing it. Looking back, I would say that this is a philosophy that motivates the majority of Endymion's roles in the upcoming epic events. He is a very unwitting hero up until the very end.

So Endymion takes us back to his first death sentence and we find out that Martin Silenius (still alive!) has arranged for Endymion's fake execution. Then over a drunken evening, Martin asks Endymion (in exchange for the life he hadn't really asked to be saved) to do just a few heroic things. Such as, grab Aenea (daughter of Braun Lamia and the second Keats cybrid) as she exits the time tombs, topple the PAX-Church state, control the Shrike and bring back Earth.

So Raul flies the Hawking Mat to pick up the 12-year old Aenea. Meanwhile Father Captain de Soya and the PAX are present at the time tombs with their best ships and their Swiss Army Guards. They intend to get the girl since they know her sole existence is to bring down the Church and they intend to nip future events in the bud. By the way, the Church has found a way to use the Cruciform to enable resurrection after death, without the problem of losing one's genitals or brains as which happened in the early days. Not only is this pivotal to the events in these two books, but raises some interesting ideas about living eternally and its effect on humanity.

Naturally our hero, Raul Endymion saves the girl with the help of A. Bettik (the blue android) and the Consul's old ship. And from this point on, Endymion chronicles their escapades through many of the worlds that we visited in the earlier Hyperion books and then some. He also tells us about Father De Soya's efforts to capture Aenea. He says that he knows all this to be true and asks us to trust him in this. Which of course we do.

If it has been awhile since you read the Hyperion books, I wouldn't worry about being lost in these. Simmons does an excellent job of helping us to recall the previous books by referring to Martin Silenius's Cantos (which are now forbidden but like forbidden material everywhere, they are read by everyone). And as with the previous Hyperion novels, the visual description of the voyage and the worlds are absolutely memorable. When I had first read the excerpts and saw that these books evolved around the new characters Aenea and Endymion, I thought I'd miss the original characters. But it doesn't take long before I was very fond of both of these new characters.

  • Amazon.com reader rating: from 131 reviews
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"The Rise of Endymion"

(reviewed by Judi Clark AUG 24, 1999)

"Choose again." Aenea's entire message...

If I learned anything with the first two Hyperion books, it is don't even think of this as a separate book. It is a continuation of Endymion, so I went ahead and picked up both books at the same time.

Obviously, the Shrodinger's box has not yet killed Raul Endymion, so he continues to document the events as they unfold from the last book. I won't give anything away, except to say that this book explains almost everything that might not have been clear in the earlier three books. We learn the truth behind the Technocore and why Aenea is wanted dead by the PAX/Church, gain an understanding of "The Void the Binds," discover the secret behind farcasting, find out more on the origins of the Shrike and confirm Sol Weintraub's discovery that love is the answer. And it all ties together very succinctly with a truly triumphant conclusion-- with possible room for another book (or two). The only outstanding question I have after thinking about these books is more on the Shrike and his creator(s).

I found Aenea's message of interest. Her and Raul enter a great conversation about the purpose of evolution as a means for Raul to understand the message, "Choose again." I could not help but relate that conversation to the recent decision in Kansas to NOT teach evolution in public schools and the confirmation on the limitations of that kinds of thinking.

I could go on and on with thoughts and comments on these four books. Simmons ability to provoke imagination and ideas is astounding and I highly recommend this powerful series.

  • Amazon.com reader rating: from 235 reviews


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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Hyperion Cantos:

Illiad Series:

Other Novels:

Joe Kurtz Series:

 

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Book Marks:

More on Dan Simmons at MostlyFiction.com:

 

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About the Author:

Dan SimmonsDan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1948 and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, journalism and art. Dan received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He then worked in elementary education for 18 years, the last 14 of which were in Colorado.

Dan has been a full-time writer since 1987. He is one of the few novelists whose work spans the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, suspense, historical fiction, noir crime fiction, and mainstream literary fiction . His books are published in 27 foreign counties as well as the U.S. and Canada. Research for his books has taken him to India, Transylvania, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Hawaii and Peoria, Illinois. Hyperion won the Hugo award in 1990. The Rise of Endymion was nominated for the 1998 Hugo.

He lives in Colorado along the front range of the Rockies. When he's not at work writing, he enjoys camping, hiking, reading, art and music.

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