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March Books 10) Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

Latest in my run of reading Hugo-winning novels that I haven't written up elsewhere. Here, a group of seven pilgrims - priest, soldier, poet, scholar, captain, investigator, diplomat - are called to undertake an interstellar pilgrimage to the shrine of a mysterious violent deity known as the Shrike. Six of them tell their stories in the framing narrative of their journey, which ends in media res as they approach their destination. It is a format which has been used by others (notably Chaucer, who is referenced on several occasions), but Simmons does it very well: each of his pilgrims has a distinctive voice, even as they are also archetypes, and he has successfully imported into sf a lot of tropes more often associated with horror (particularly the nature of the Shrike). It is an intense read, and I found the 500 pages fairly flew by.

There is one passage that particularly affects me: "The Scholar's Tale", which is actually more a parent's tale, where one of Simmons' protagonists has to deal with the physical and psychological regression of his daughter from the age of 27 to babyhood. This is uncomfortably close to my own family situation.

The other novels shortlisted for the Hugo in 1990 were Poul Anderson's The Boat of a Million  Years, George Alec Effinger's A Fire in the Sun, Sheri S. Tepper's Grass and Orson Scott Card's Prentice Alvin. I have read the last two of these, and Hyperion is better than either (though I enjoyed both books). I thought I had read the Anderson as well but the synopses I find online don't ring any bells.

Comments

yea_mon
Mar. 7th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
I've heard it mentioned that he retcons a lot in Olympos. He does do it liberally in the sequels to the two Hyperion books.

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