Smoke me a kipper; I'll be back for breakfast.
As someone with a literature degree and a sci-fi lover, this book was the perfect combination of the two. The book mirrors the format of Canterbury Tales in that each of the pilgrims tells their tale along the way to their destination. There was only one that I found boring. The rest were fascinating and all diverse from each other, explaining why they had come to the dangerous world of Hyperion. There's many allusions in the story to famous literary works and a chilling sci-fi god-monster and Hyperion natives. The prose is beautiful and engaging. I'm looking forward to continuing the series.
I would give Hyperion 4.5 stars, but I feel obligated to give 5 if just to offset these science fiction appreciation challenged fools. Sure, Hyperion ends abruptly. What publisher do you know that lets you publish a 1200 page novel? This is one of the best science fiction books of all time, I know, I've made a side career of reading Scifi. I would say the list goes something like this: Dune, Enders Game, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Hyperion, the Mote in God's Eye, the Fall of Hyperion. Read it, listen to it, but don't stop with it, finish up with the Fall of Hyperion as well. The books are really fantastic (not a huge fan of Endymion and Rise of Endymion but they tie up the series nicely). Seriously, if there is one writer today whose work compares to that of the "Golden Age" writers, it is Dan Simmons. This book is mostly character development, but it is great character development.
This story is clumsily populated with anachronisms, and non-essentials juxtaposed with obvious scientific understanding.
The author, at times leaves the story behind, apparrently for no other reason than to showcase his abilities as a writer, The story moves extremly slowly, and the only reason that I trugded through it was the overwhelmingly positive reviews that it got and that I already spent the credit on it.
In the end, it was worth the credit but just barely. as abruptly as the first book ended, I dont know that I am interested in the main characters enough to find out what happened to them. I may or may not get it.
This has caused me to question the reviews that a book gets.
It was just a long, long book about mild character development. Like "10 Little Indians", everybody tells their story, but unlike the Christie novel, nothing actually happens and the story isn't resolved.
Nicely tall and intelligently open-minded
It's a long listen and at times felt tedious but I persisted and was not put off by the experience. The story took me to delve into the incredible large imaginative world of Dan Simmons whom I applaud to have ingeniously patched six different story lines into one big story about Hyperion.
I am currently listening to the sequel and can't wait for the outcome.
For me this is tough to review b/c the writing, narration and story are fantastic and i would give them each 5 stars, that is, until the ending. This book is and was very well known in its time, won a Hugo award even but that perplexes me unless the sequel was released at the exact same time b/c this book cannot stand on its own. Had the sequel never been published, this book would have been quickly forgotten and possibly even hated due to the abruptness of the ending. I get writing a story that draws readers in and makes them want to keep reading but this book's ending is cruel to the readers. Given the succinctness of Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion (book 2), the author clearly knew exactly where the story was going and only ended the book where it ended to trap readers and force them to buy the new book. Perhaps that was the publishers decision to do it that way but to me this was an incomplete book.
That being said, i highly recommend this book (and its sequel)! The accuracy of some of the 'predictions' in this story are on par with that of Asimov and other great classic sci-fi writers and that makes it really fun to read (listen) for me personally. If i had known that book 1 and book 2 are really a single book, i would have given this 5 stars overall.
For most Audible reviewers, the "Overall" rating is typically an average of the "Story" and the "Performance", but I'm going to take a different approach here. For Hyperion, the whole is definitely not a sum of the parts.
While Simmons builds an interesting universe, he spends entirely too long doing it. This book, and it's sequel, should have been nearly half the length, and would have been much, much better for it.
Some books are long because a lot happens in them. For instance, the Lord of the Rings takes place over a multiple year journey. Some books, on the other hand, are long for the sake of being long. They describe each arduous step in the journey in excruciating detail, wasting entire chapters without moving the story along in the least.
Unfortunately, Simmons comes far too close to the later here, especially in the spaces between the "tales of the pilgrims".
The reality is that Hyperion is simply a collection of "short" stories which help define the universe for the reader, setting up the second book ("The Fall of Hyperion") for the actual story and conclusion. The attempt to wrap these into tales which the pilgrims tell to each other falls a bit short, since there's quite a bit of time covering basics of how their worlds works that wouldn't be necessary if they were truly speaking with contemporaries.
Now I'm a huge fan of short stories, but few of these can really be called "short" due to Simmons verbosity. Some of these stories are great, others simply average. But none of them reach any sort of conclusion. Conclusions are left for the second book in the series, The Fall of Hyperion.
So understand that once you listen to this one there's really no way to avoid listening on to the conclusion in The Fall of Hyperion. That means that you will invest at least 40 hours in this series; over 80 if you continue on to Endymion afterwards (which I have not yet done).
Simon and Rachel's story is tragic and compelling, even as it continues into the second book. I'll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
Clearly. As mentioned before, this book does not stand alone. The Fall of Hyperion is required to complete the story.
Prospective listeners should be aware that the Hyperion books are, first and foremost, a classic tragedy. There are few moments of levity. If this is not your cup of tea, then at some point in the 40 hours, listening will become more of a chore than a pleasure. While I'm not sure if it will help, you may want to do the Whispersync purchase of these, so that you can switch between reading and listening. I plan to do this if and when I start on Endymion.
I was sucked into this book in 5 minutes. I couldn't put it down. It's so original and spell binding. Time well spent in "bookland" with this series.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I first read this book in college, and couldn’t put it down. Coming back to it years later (in audiobook form this time), I’m just as absorbed.
Hyperion is space opera in its peak form, with vivid writing, well-realized characters, a futuristic universe that’s both imaginative and believable, and a story that pulses with mystery. Unlike most science fiction, it's also a consciously literary-minded novel, referencing works ranging from the poetry of Keats to the medieval Canterbury Tales. Anyone who's had to read the latter in high school will recognize Simmons' inspired re-imagining, in which seven travelers from very different walks of life share their personal tales with one another as they make their way on a pilgrimage towards an enigmatic alien temple and its dark, mysterious inhabitant, the Shrike. Then there are numerous nods to other works of science fiction, from Poulson to Gibson. All the thematic connections help Hyperion feel like a work somehow bigger than itself.
To be fair, Simmons sometimes gets a little too obvious with the name-dropping, which led to a bit of eye-rolling on my part, but Hyperion is still compulsively readable. The first two “tales”, by the priest and soldier respectively, are absolute page-turners. If you aren’t drawn into the story of Father Dure’s mission to the descendants of some lost colonists, who have become a little odd during the intervening centuries, then science fiction might not be for you, The Bukowski-in-space poet’s tale and the haunting scholar’s tale, have less typical science fiction plots, but were (I thought) just as good. The remaining tales, while not quite as memorable in their own right, serve to transition from the past to the larger story’s “present”. Simmons does a masterful job of gradually revealing his universe, each tale focusing in on one aspect of it, while offering more depth or new angles on what we’ve learned from previous tales. It’s a textbook example of how to set up a complex world and its backstory without a lot of expository babble.
It should be noted that Hyperion is really the first half of a larger work, which happens to be split into two novels. There’s barely an ending here, and if you want to find out how all the various plot threads are resolved, you’ll have to read the second book of the pair, The Fall of Hyperion. I didn’t think that book was quite as good -- as often happens in science fiction, a compelling setup doesn’t imply an equally satisfying resolution. But Hyperion itself is so imaginative, it’s worth a read.
As to the audiobook experience, I found the use of different voice actors to play different characters a little distracting, notably the “Darth Vader” voice of one guy, but most of them did a pretty decent job. I particularly liked the boozy, gravelly voice of the actor who played the poet.
This series tries to combine an examination of weighty issues - such as individual vs collective good, the relationship between human and artificial intelligence, the question of what humans might evolve into, religion vs state - while at the same time providing an entertaining plot. It's successful enough for me to have thoroughly enjoyed both the print and audio versions. I like listening to long books with a bit of heft so this 4 volume series has been great.
Unlike many others commentators I didn't find the main narrator smooth sailing, though this might be a stylistic preference for the most part. He's not terrible, just that sometimes he sounds as though he's voicing a commercial. One major irritation was his failure to produce an English accent for the voice of John Keats - the attempt interferred with pleasurable listening of those parts (this is more of an issue in the next book than this one).