27 January 2013


First some housekeeping:

I didn’t realize until the other night that I’ve overshot my one year anniversary of beginning this challenge.  Go me!  I feel like I have learned the true meaning of the words bleary-eyed, but overall it has been too much fun and I really appreciate the conversations and support.  It means a lot.  That being said, I’m not going to succeed.

On time, I mean ;-)

I’ve really been working hard to catch up and I’m about a couple days’ worth of reading from doing just that!  But when I look at some of the behemoths that I’ll be up against in the remaining eleven weeks, I just don’t see how I can manage.  I think I’ve mentioned, I read novels pretty slow.  I don’t like zooming through them.  It disagrees with me when I do.  Plus I really need to start studying for the GRE and also DO EVERYTHING ELSE.

So while I won’t have any problem finishing off the Hugo’s, I won’t do it in the heretofore promised 64 weeks (and hey Blackout/All Clear is really two books anyway so I should have made that 65 weeks).  I hope you’re not too disappointed and that you don’t all hate me for it, but if you do, well…let me think how to put this.

Too bad.


Hyperion by Dan Simmons
1990 Hugo Award Winner
A multi-voice narration
Got it from: Public Library
20h 58m

Told in the fashion of The Canterbury Tales or The Decameron, eight travelers have been sent on a pilgrimage by The Church of the Final Atonement, to visit the Shrike, a terrible, world-ending, creature of destruction.  Each pilgrim sets to telling the others their tale in the dual hope of passing the time and trying to uncover how to defeat the Shrike.  The collected stories are nothing short of fabulous.

What I (didn’t) like
The universe Simmons has created in Hyperion is the bomb-diggity.  But somehow, the total work of art never came together for me.  The shrike, the time tombs, the ouster/hegemony/Technocore dynamic – THE CYBRID! – were all remarkable, at least intellectually.  The way that Simmons reveals, in pieces, the full dynamic of Hyperion’s universe represents some really skillful world-building.  Thinking back on it all now, it sounds like serious good stuff, and yet as I was actually listening to Hyperion, I just couldn’t force myself to give a crap at any given moment whether my stereo blew up and I never had a chance to finish the book (blasphemy!!!).

I know, it’s just not right.  In addition to all of the above, Hyperion was also a theological SF/modern lit lover’s heaven.  It recalled to me some of those really great theological Hugo winners of the past: A Canticle for Leibowitz, A Case of Conscience, even some notes of Zelazny’s Lord of Light (I think of these as the “Big Three” of the theological Hugo’s…so good).  Erg…this alone should have been enough to push Hyperion over the top in my usual estimation.

Well actually, Martin Silenus alone came pretty close; not only was “The Poet’s Tale” JUST RIDONKS, but it stands as probably the best and most comprehensive inclusion of poetry (and modern literature) in SF of any of the previous Hugo Winners (and based on what I know of the remaining 12 or 13 I have left, will probably remain that way.  “The Poet’s Tale” was also one of the best readings of the many really superb actors involved in Brilliance Audio’s audiobook.

Geez, you have got to listen to the telling of Silenus losing his vocabulary.  Literally, spit-take funny and oh so gloriously vulgar.

Alas, any one tale independently just didn’t do it for me.  All that coolness, and it somehow just never gelled.  Maybe I was preoccupied.  Maybe I’m a bonehead.  I think it was simply that I was just so completely absorbed with each story that I was never able to string them together in my mind very well.  The arcs of each story swung so wildly and ended so abruptly that they all somehow remained compartmentalized for me – which is complete baloney because NONE of the stories are self-contained.  My idiocy is inexcusable and now the world knows it.

I should end this with a clearer statement.  I loved this book.  Simmons writes and creates his world unforgettably (and the audiobook was read with fabulous passion by everyone involved), the tech is minimal…BUT FANTASTIC (I hope someone has already started work on cybrids – scientists, I’m looking at you), and his use of poetry, religion, mysticism, and literature creates a novel that is both terrifically dark and hysterically funny.  I will read The Fall of Hyperion.  But for whatever the reason, I just didn’t feel like the end result was greater than the sum of its parts.

You may commence the tomato pelting.

Hyperion has made a lot of lists and won both the Hugo and Locus SF awards.  The pilgrim’s tales are each fascinating and I found myself disappointed when some of them ended.  I suspect that I’ll (retroactively) care more about the universe and the broader political and social aspects that were limited to the periphery in Hyperion when I get to The Fall of Hyperion.  I’m really on the verge of saying that after 50 or so Hugo’s under my belt, Hyperion is one of the most beautiful and smart yet.  But I don’t think I’m quite ready for that kind of commitment yet…


Universe 3/5
Social/Political Climate 3/5
Dialogue 5/5
Scientific Wonders 4/5
Characters 5/5

Overall 20/25

In addition to my ongoing quest to read every Hugo Award winner, I also read this book as part of the 2013 Science Fiction Experience.  Check it out.


  1. I find I'm always visiting after the fact, but better late than never?

    Anyway, I picked up Hyperion at the library book sale a couple months ago, and started reading it during some of our family travels.

    Really, REALLY impressed me. I actually agree that it didn't come together really smoothly for me, even though I found nearly all of the individual stories to be fascinating, all the more because each took a different style and tone; Simmons really stretched his writing voice in this novel in ways I've hardly seen anyone else attempt to do in a single novel.

    Having said that, I think it was the frame story part inbetween the individual stories that just didn't seem to glue everything together the way I'd have hoped. each new story added really interesting new perspectives, but then the pilgrim's discussions of it just fell kind of flat.

    Still, amazing effort. I'd recommend it to anyone, though I'd recommend they not get too hung up on the "whole," but just enjoy the individual stories, as you mention. My favorites were about the priest and the scholar.

    1. Better late than never is my mantra for this blog right now Neal!

      I'm glad you agree though. I was really worried that people would disown me since it is so (justly) highly regarded.

      I mentioned the Poet's Tale was my favorite but I think the priest was my second.

      The scholar bothered me as a parent when they seemed to have perfect recall of significant events in their daughter's early childhood and could reproduce them in reverse. I can't remember (and sometimes I WANT to forget) what Emmeline did last week sometimes :)

    2. Yeah, I get what you say about the perfect recall. In terms of that logistical improbability, I'm with you.

      But the reason I liked it was that it seemed to capture a lot of the nuanced and heartbreaking feelings of a parent, which I frankly don't find as often in sff stuff. A lot of dudes can write about science and spaceships and time travel and monsters...not that many write poignantly about family.

    3. Point taken and I will admit that I do recognize that my gripe is somewhat silly. I'd already bought into a satyr and the shrike but I drew the line at reverse parenting? I'm so unreasonable sometimes ;-)

    4. Yeah, well, to be fair, it's the stuff that we live every day that you'd hope would not feel far-fetched. as far as being able to recreate every year/day as it had once been lived...you'd need some pretty serious tech to help you out with that. Which I don't think he quite explained... I was also pretty psyched that he gave a simple but honest effort at Kierkegaard.


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