Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Book review

Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Gollancz SF Masterworks (2011) ‘8.99

Reviewed by John Howard

The plot of Hyperion is deceptively simple. Seven very different people have been thrown together, selected to make a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on the backwater planet Hyperion. And on the way they tell their stories. Simple, yes? Oh no. The Time Tombs aren’t just any chambers carved out of the rock: they seem to exist in their own time field steadily moving backwards against the stream. They have been thoroughly explored and seem to be empty; but are now about to open, and reveal their contents and purpose. And there is the Shrike, a murderous creature and/or machine somehow connected with the Time Tombs, worshipped by its church as the Lord of Pain, and which is now on the loose.

We are in the Hegemony, the human-controlled area of space whose worlds are held together by the farcaster portals and the democratic institutions of the Senate and the All Thing. The whole set-up works because it is operated by the TechnoCore ‘ the community of AIs originally created by humanity but which seceded and became independent. Now there are suspicions that the AIs are not really disinterested partners but an enemy within the gates, possibly in league with the spacefaring Ousters, who are preparing to invade the Hegemony. So the pilgrimage takes place against a fall of the Roman Empire sense of widespread impending doom. The existing human order is in danger of being overthrown and replaced by something new and very different. The gods fall.

To read Hyperion is to open a chest of dark jewels. The unlikely pilgrims are haunted and possessed; they are people who have lost something and whose stories ‘ grim, funny, wistful, sad ‘ circle around throughout the Hegemony and yet connect with gothic Hyperion and Keats’ ancient poetry. The goal is reached and the stories are all told; but the story hasn’t ended. There are more cantos. And the waiting Lord of Pain always has more to teach.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Gollancz SF Masterworks (2011) ‘8.99

Reviewed by John Howard

The plot of Hyperion is deceptively simple. Seven very different people have been thrown together, selected to make a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on the backwater planet Hyperion. And on the way they tell their stories. Simple, yes? Oh no. The Time Tombs aren’t just any chambers carved out of the rock: they seem to exist in their own time field steadily moving backwards against the stream. They have been thoroughly explored and seem to be empty; but are now about to open, and reveal their contents and purpose. And there is the Shrike, a murderous creature and/or machine somehow connected with the Time Tombs, worshipped by its church as the Lord of Pain, and which is now on the loose.

We are in the Hegemony, the human-controlled area of space whose worlds are held together by the farcaster portals and the democratic institutions of the Senate and the All Thing. The whole set-up works because it is operated by the TechnoCore ‘ the community of AIs originally created by humanity but which seceded and became independent. Now there are suspicions that the AIs are not really disinterested partners but an enemy within the gates, possibly in league with the spacefaring Ousters, who are preparing to invade the Hegemony. So the pilgrimage takes place against a fall of the Roman Empire sense of widespread impending doom. The existing human order is in danger of being overthrown and replaced by something new and very different. The gods fall.

To read Hyperion is to open a chest of dark jewels. The unlikely pilgrims are haunted and possessed; they are people who have lost something and whose stories ‘ grim, funny, wistful, sad ‘ circle around throughout the Hegemony and yet connect with gothic Hyperion and Keats’ ancient poetry. The goal is reached and the stories are all told; but the story hasn’t ended. There are more cantos. And the waiting Lord of Pain always has more to teach.