Book Review: Hyperion – by Dan Simmons

Hyperion_coverAfter saying that I would not read another Dan Simmons book after Phases of Gravity, I didn’t follow through when I picked up Hyperion, which was recommended by somebody on Reddit as “mindblowing.” So I went for it, but I didn’t first read my own review of Phases of Gravity again first.

Hyperion is actually not a bad science fiction book. Dan Simmons built a world here. The year is something between 2800 and 2900. The Earth no longer exists. It was swallowed by a black hole that humans created artificially during the “Big Mistake.” This drove humanity to leave the Earth in search of other planets to colonize.

Humans traveled initially by “slow” starships. Later they developed faster than light travel. Finally, the “farcasters” came along, which are basically teleportation portals that allow a person to go instantly from one place in the galaxy to another. They work like phone booths. You put in your charge card, type a destination code and step through the gate. You come out instantly on another planet.

One of the more exotic implementations of farcaster technology is a “house” with many rooms, each room on a different planet. Your living room can be on one planet, the bedroom on another, and so on. As you walk through the doors of the house, you are instantly transported perhaps hundreds of light years away. Of course, only very rich people can afford such a house.

But I digress. Hyperion is filled with neat concepts like farcasters. The story is a fairly silly one. An imminent war with a human splinter group, the Ousters, requires that a gang of pilgrims travel to the planet Hyperion to meet with the mysterious alien intelligence they call the Shrike. On the way, the seven pilgrims each tell their story. The stories are vastly different from one to the other, and they seem to exist only so the author can elaborate more on the details of the world he created. Yet they are intriguing enough to keep the reader’s attention.

The story itself, however, left me wanting. It just didn’t make any sense to me. It just meanders about to illustrate neat science fiction concepts. There really isn’t any ending. Obviously, the writer is building it for a series of books – and I definitely don’t care enough about the characters to want to read the next one.


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