But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Please get your Shrike on.
This SF novel absolutely surpassed my expectations. I loved the framing (see: The Canterbury Tales); loved the multiple styles and voices; loved the complexity; and loved the characters. There were times when I could hear echos of Isaac Asimov's The Foundation Trilogy and Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. Anyway, it was brilliantly executed BIG S, Big F, Science Fiction.
I know, I know. Hyperion won the Hugo award. And the Locus award. And even a Finnish award! It enjoys many, many, many glowing reviews. Lots of good folks just love this book to death. I am not one of them, though. Sorry.
The basic outline of the plot is interesting. And the Canterbury Tales approach seemed promising at first. But all the melodramatic speeches, corny dialogue, weak characters, and general pretentiousness ruined it for me.
The characters are by and large stereotypes - the drunken poet, the heroic soldier, the hardboiled film noir detective, etc. I wanted to empathise with them, but couldn’t.
The frequent erudite and off-hand references to poetry, classical music (by composer name, of course), and other art and history at first made me want to gag. Eventually, though, it became funny. Here’s a sample of the cleverosity:
Beowulf and Grendel
M.C. Escher (referred to simply as “Escher”, of course)
Lincoln (actually, “Lincoln-esque”)
The Wizard of Oz
John Keats (over and over and over)
And the author never used a simple word when he could substitute a longer or more obscure one. Again, this got funny after a while. I seriously began to wonder if he was getting paid extra for every $50 word and uber-clever reference. Here are some of the gems:
nimbus (cloud or aura)
deity (a god)
lapis (deep blue)
I kept thinking of M*A*S*H’s Radar O'Reilly while he was taking a correspondence course in creative writing. Btw, “lapis” is a word that is normal people never use. But Dan Simmons likes it so much you hear it every ten pages or so. If you’re a college kid, try taking a shot each time you hear it!
I kept listening (at higher and higher speeds), hoping the book would redeem itself and justify all the positive reviews. But it never did. I was so relieved when it abruptly ended. And of course the ending is the kind of high-brow stuff you should be used to by that point.
As I said, many others love this book. If you love “literachoor” you’ll probably really enjoy it. Personally, I will not bother with the other books in this series or anything else by this author. And I’ll be returning this one
I like fantasy and sci fi.
The pacing is slow. The performance was ok. It is not an action or thriller sci fi book. It was more like a mystery. I don't usually give up on series, I'm still trying to decide if I want to burn my free credit on the sequel. there is just enough mystery to make me consider it though.
I really tried to like this book. Based on the reviews, I bought all 4 books of the series. At the end of the first book, I disliked all the characters and could not care less what happened. The other 3 books will remain unread.
This was really an enjoyable read, and some of the pilgrims' tales were utterly captivating. Narration is good, not great.
Highly recommended for those who can appreciate good storytelling and aren't looking for a run-of-the-mill thriller for those with short attention spans.
My thanks to audible for bringing this book to the audio format.
I'm a voracious reader who unfortunately spends a lot of time on the road. Audiobooks make my life a lot better.
I wanted to like this book so much. I love long books, I love a series of long books. Overall, however, I'm very disappointed. Simmons is a very good writer, uses language well, etc. I don't mind the sex scenes, although they seem at times gratuitous and don';t add much to the characters, and may just be a bit much. The pilgrim's individual stories, for the most part, were good and, as another reviewer said, one (in my case the story of Rachel growing younger and losing her memories) was very emotionally moving for me. And I agree that one of the stories (the last one, I think) was a bit confusing and not very interesting. I frequently felt like I was not paying as close attention as I wanted to, and finally realized that what kept running through my head was "When does the REAL story start?" It does seem like this is a giant "back story" telling how these characters got to where they are presently. I would have preferred at least starting the action with what (I presume) is in the second book, and then flashback to these backstories, but that is a personal preference.
The ending is not what I'd want, but I guess the author and all the readers knew a sequel (or many) were coming. It didn't disappoint me nearly as much as Stephen King's ending to the Dark Tower series, but then again I enjoyed every single thing in the Dark Tower series EXCEPT the ending, so it's a little different matter.
I'm putting any further downloads of this series on hold for the moment. I might actually re-listen to part or all of Hyperion (fast-forwarding occasionally) and then decide if I want more.
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).
Simply not on the level of other sci-fi greats. Lots of cool ideas, but... It's so drawn out only to end before the ending! Honestly, no disrespect to mr simmons, this book does not belong on anyone's top sci-fi lists, which is unbelievably where I heard about it.
After reading it way back when it was first published in print, I recently listened to the audiobook version and had pretty much the same reaction to it. I feel almost obligated to admire the author for his skillful weaving of a complex, multi-layered web of tales, all written in totally different styles, each of them contributing in an ingenious way to our understanding of the world that forms the backdrop to this story. Really, really well done, and I fully understand why this book is a sci-fi classic.
Alas, in the end it all sort of falls flat for me, a classic example of arts for art's sake. Some of the tales are gripping (Detective, Poet, Soldier, ) but the others just meander on without much purpose (in particular the Consul's tale). At times it feels like a sophomore in English studies trying to squeeze as many "big" words, as many memes as possible into a paragraph to impress the professor. If someone had seriously edited the book and cut 25% out, it would have been a masterpiece. Well, there's still the issue that it really ends just when it's about to become really interesting. I'm not huge fan of blatant cliffhangers books that leave essentially everything open and bring nothing to a (at least partial) conclusion.
The narration cast is outstanding. Having different characters narrated by different actors works extremely well here.The person reading the poet is brilliant!