Hyperion Book Review
by Miles Cruice-Barnett
The TechnoCore is a group of AIs (artificial intelligences) that seceded from their human creators. They still choose to work closely with the humans, though they could wipe out the entire race with a snap of their metaphorical fingers. The TechnoCore is even powerful enough to create an ‘Ultimate Intelligence’ that could predict the future. That means predicting every possible outcome in the entire universe with 100% accuracy. At least, it would be 100% accurate if it were not for Hyperion. Hyperion is a planet on the outskirts of a galactic government called the Hegemony. It is a mysterious planet that has many strange things that even the technologically advanced human race and the power TechnoCore cannot understand. The biggest mystery on the planet is the Shrike. The Shrike is a menacing thing that seems to be somehow connected to time. It is known by many names including most notably ‘The Lord of Pain,’ and has been reported to be the cause of much death and destruction on Hyperion. The Shrike is a god to some; others think it is simply a story; yet others believe that it is a monster from the future, but no one really knows the truth about the Shrike, or if it even exists. The book is about 7 people that are hand picked by the Hegemony to go on a pilgrimage to confront the Shrike. However, the majority of the book is comprised of each person’s individual story of why they are on the journey and their personal experiences with the planet Hyperion and the infamous Shrike.
The book is unapologetic about throwing the reader into the strange futuristic system of the Hegemony. There are many terms that are not explained, many places that are not described, and it makes the book hard to follow at times. However, it also makes for a more realistic atmosphere. If someone were to write a narrative of their day, they would not bother to explain what a cell phone is because they would not expect anyone from a distant past to be reading the narrative. Hyperion allows the reader to use context clues and their imagination to fill the gaps of careful description. This is great for people who like to dissect a plot or read between the lines. Because it is written from so many different perspectives, each story has its own writing style unique to the character. Dan Simmons does a great job of capturing the essence of each of the pilgrims with the way he shapes their story telling. Every time you pick up Hyperion it is like there is a new book waiting for you inside, yet each story connected somehow with the same sub-plot of the planet Hyperion and the Shrike. This aids to keep the book interesting, though coherent, for those who might get bored of a book easily.
Time is a strange concept in the book. The development of the Hawking Drive allows travel faster than light speed, but this results in a ‘time debt.’ While you may experience 2 weeks on the ship in a cryogenic sleep, hundreds of years could pass in the outside world. Because of this, time and age are relative things and it makes for an interesting understanding of some of the characters. The Time Tombs are another example of how time is used to craft this book. The Time Tombs are moving backwards in time from an indefinite future. Many of the concepts in Hyperion are hard to comprehend, but those who like a challenge will enjoy it.
The second book in the series is ‘The Fall of Hyperion.’ It is a continuation of the story, but has a completely different point of view that gives some insight to what has been happening in the government and the war for control of Hyperion. It is a great way to create extra mystery and excitement after the stories of the 7 pilgrims are over. The transition of the books is confusing at first, but ultimately they work really well together.
Over all, Hyperion is a challenge worth accepting. The challenge in and of itself is part of what makes the book so enjoyable. It can be confusing and hard to wrap your head around at times, but it creates a world like no other. The writing styles and mysteries of the book will keep you interested the entire time, and the end of each chapter will leave you wanting more. Hyperion is a great book for anyone who loves science fiction, or even someone just looking to get lost in another world.
Hyperion, Dan Simmons. Bantam Spectra. December 1995. 482 pages. Science Fiction.