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May. 11th, 2009

Hyperion (Hyperion, Book 1) Hyperion by Dan Simmons

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to the Audio Frontiers audiobook narrated by Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Pariseau, Jay Snyder, and Victor Bevine. All the narration was competent-to-good, except for Allyson Johnson, whose narration annoyed me.

I have one major beef with this book, which is that the ending doesn't really wrap up the story. (Apparently the sequel, Fall of Hyperion, provides a proper ending.)

Hyperion is a set of six tales wrapped in a larger plotline about seven pilgrims making a journey. Toward the end of the book all the stories start to converge into one complex story. That's what's best about the book, in my opinion.

In this book and the other one I've read (Children of the Night), Dan Simmons does a really good job of creating "cranky, cynical old men" characters. This book has six major such characters and a few secondary ones, and they are all very distinctive. Simmons does less well at creating female characters. This book has one female character who has her own narrative, but her personality and motives don't feel as distinctive to me as those of the male characters, and neither do the personalities of the secondary female characters.

Simmons is well-read in literature and mythology and he does a good job of integrating this knowledge into the book.

Simmons's writing makes use of horror tropes designed to evoke strong emotional reactions. Those tropes don't work particularly well for me for some reason.

I also think Simmons sometimes doesn't do a very good job writing about romantic relationships. (He does better writing about primarily sexual relationships.) Sometimes the characters' motives for getting involved or staying involved aren't clear; in this book, I especially felt that way about the tale with a female protagonist.

View all my goodreads.com reviews.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
I read his Illium/Olympus duology (diptych?) which had the similar issue of requiring both books. It also sounds similar in the sense that there are strongly disparate story lines that converge, with strong literature dependencies. The female characters are not particularly strong either.

In Illium/Olumpus there are a variety of human-modified species and Moravecs, "autonomous, sentient, self-evolving biomechanical organisms." I didn't study the book with this question, but noticed the gender of the Moravecs wasn't strongly signified. It could be decades of "he" = either gender mean an occasional male gendered pronoun slipped, but i really do think the Moravecs weren't strongly signified. The primary moravec character was the only character i particularly liked. reading your comments about Simmons and female characters, i wonder about the moravecs and gender even more.
May. 11th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
I didn't realize there was a second book... I can to respond that Illium had almost NO wrap up and barely connected the story lines...

I guess I have another book for my list now...
May. 11th, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
Interesting, I'll have to consider reading that.

I wonder where the word Moravec comes from. I instantly think of this one pianist who is really good at playing Chopin. And on the one hand it seems unlikely that he'd take the name from that guy, on the other hand, he does seem to have some knowledge of piano based on one character in Hyperion...
May. 11th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Moravec, a roboticist with interest in transhumanism.

Much of this pair of books is about transhumanism.... and if you really think you want to read it, i'll not say more.
May. 11th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Aha! Thanks.
May. 11th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC)
I read Hyperion I and II, and then the followup duology - which I can't remember the name of. (Googled it, "Endymion") Suffice to say that I thought Hyperion was good enough to seek out and read the rest; I found Fall of Hyperion somewhat dissapointing, as it continued to fail to explain certain points, though it did bring some storylines to satisfactory conclusions; Endymion was... an interesting premise, with an increasingly ludicrous storyline, which I was really hoping would turn into something better; Rise of Endymion completely failed to develop into something better, and instead devolved into flailing slapstick. Without giving away any major spoilers, I'll just say that Endymion etc. uses phrases like (and I'm not paraphrasing much here, sadly) "Our love was the kind that poets wrote sagas of for the ages" unironically. Also, what you said about female characters and inability to write convincing relationships times a million.

In other words, if you liked Hyperion, I strongly recommend that you do not read Endymion.
May. 11th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
"Our love was the kind that poets wrote sagas of for the ages"

Yeah, there is plenty of this sort of thing in Hyperion too.
May. 12th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
Endymion is worse. Thicker. Harder to overlook. :P
May. 12th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
I'm waffling about whether to read Fall of Hyperion as it is, but I'm pretty much convinced it will end there. (Or at least I'll do Endymion on paper where I can skim past the emo.)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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