Select one of the keywords
Hyperion    by Dan Simmons order for
by Dan Simmons
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 1990 (1989)
Softcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Hyperion is the first book in Dan Simmons' epic Hyperion Cantos tetralogy. In this opening book, seven travelers are brought together on a journey, a pilgrimage to the distant and mysterious planet of Hyperion, where they will face the Time Tombs and perhaps the dreaded Shrike. The galaxy is on the brink of Armageddon, and the pilgrims hope to somehow save it, and ultimately find their destines on Hyperion.

Employing the structure of the Canterbury Tales, Simmons brings seven very different characters together. It is some centuries in the future and Planet Earth is no more, having been destroyed in a science experiment now known as the Great Mistake. But humanity has conquered the stars and traveled far throughout the galaxy. It is a great age, when one can skip across thousands of light years in the blink of an eye with the use of a Farcaster: a teleportation door, created and developed by the AI TechnoCore.

But the Ousters are coming - a distant alien civilization about which little is known, except that they are hostile and a grave threat. It could all end now. The important vantage point is the distant planet of Hyperion, not even a member of the Hegemony of Man, where there are Time Tombs. These ancient tombs are shrouded in mystery and suspicion - all that remains of a race known as the Shrike, they may be the salvation that humanity has been awaiting. Now these seven travelers hope to somehow activate the Time Tombs and save civilization.

Simmons begins the story in medias res, introducing the reader to seven strangers in a world about which nothing is known. But he skillfully reveals all through the minds, imaginations, and stories of these seven characters. Het Masteen is a Templar, member of a tall, proud but quiet race who created and control the powerful Treeships whose Hawking Drives send ships across the stars at astonishing speeds; Masteen captains the Yggdrasill, the ship that will take the pilgrims to Hyperion; and has his own unique story to tell. Father Lenar Hoyt tells The Priest's Tale, about the Catholic world and a parasite known as the cruciform that can reincarnate life. In The Soldier's Tale, FORCE military Colonel Fedmahn Kassad is searching for a supernatural figure that has come to him many times in his dreams. Martin Silenus, in The Poet's Tale, tells of being a failed poet who nearly loses his life and then begins the opus that will make him remembered throughout the centuries.

The Scholar's Tale from Sol Weintraub is the most moving pilgrims' story. He recounts how his daughter, Rachel, was an archaeologist studying the Time Tombs. After a strange accident, she began to grow younger each day. She returned to her family to live with them as she grew younger, needing to have the story she no longer remembered recounted to her each day. Eventually Sol made a short and easy version to tell her each morning. Sol and his wife Sarai relive the raising of their daughter backwards through time. Now it is up to Sol to return to the Time Tombs with baby Rachel, who is just weeks old and will soon simply disappear.

The Detective's Tale from Brawne Lamia is a noir account of her job as a private eye with a cybrid client: a cloned human with electronic implants controlled by the TechnoCore. Someone is trying to kill him and destroy his memory, and it's up to Lamia to figure out who is behind it. In the final story, The Consul's Tale, the Consul talks of his grandparents on the planet Maui-Covenant, which was once a paradise. When the first Farcaster was opened, it became a tourist destination and its beauty was destroyed forever. The Consul also talks about his work as a secret agent for the Hegemony, infiltrating the Ousters.

The book ends as the pilgrims finally reach the Time Tombs. While the sequel, Fall of Hyperion, explains a lot more of the world and events, Hyperion is special, unique in its original characters and their incredible stories. Simmons has essentially rewritten the Canterbury Tales in the far future, with incredible stories that stand out as moving novellas on their own, and a cast of characters readers won't soon forget.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews