Hyperion was so good that it did something odd to everything else I was reading. It didn't show those books up as lesser, it made everything else better as well. I'm not really sure how that happened.
People had been raving about Hyperion
for quite a while, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it,
prompted by a science fiction group I'm part of. As soon as I picked it
up, I was grabbed by the story.
This is a science fiction riff on The Canterbury Tales - or maybe, as I look into it, The Decameron (I've never read The Canterbury Tales or The Decameron,
so take this with a grain of salt.) A pilgrimage of seven set out to
the Time Tombs on the planet of Hyperion - Canterbury Tales. But they do
this in a time of mass upheaval, when it appears that the world itself
could be ending - The Decameron, which is set during the Black Death.
the way to their final destination, the Time Tombs, and the creature
that roams them, The Shrike, a deadly killing machine that may or may
not be from the future, sent backwards in time to unleash the coming
war, the pilgrims tell their stories of how they came to be where they
The stories themselves are little masterpieces - creepy,
atmospheric, and mind-bending. Every one takes a story of the Shrike and of
Hyperion, and does something different with it, creating a mosaic of
images that is never neatly resolved. The reality is possibly all of
these stories, none of them, or more. A priest thinks he has found
evidence of Christianity that predates the coming of humanity. A soldier
is repeatedly visited in battle by a woman. A poet finds inspiration in
disaster. A man watches his daughter grow younger by the day. A woman
fails in her duty to protect another. A diplomat harbours an ancient
And the menace of the Shrike grows, as the universe edges closer to war. But war with whom?
stories are, individually, mind-blowingly good - in concert, they are
little short of breathtaking. This is science fiction at its very best,
and its avoidance of simple answers satisfies me deeply. I can't wait to
read the next book.
I read this book as part of an attempt to read all the Hugo Nominees