This novel, while imperfect, is beautiful.
REALLY MILD SPOILERS. LIKE SUPER MILD. I WOULDN’T EVEN CALL THEM SPOILERS BUT SOMEONE WOULD BITCH IF I DIDNT.
I MEAN WHY WOULD YOU CLICK ON THIS IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE SUPER MILD SPOILERS.
THAT’S LIKE FANNING YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU TRY THE MILD SALSA.
THE MILD SALSA IS NOT HOT.
Anyway. Another food metaphor:
Hyperion is the science fiction dark chocolate truffle gateau cake you get for dessert at the fancy restaurant on a special occasion. It’s the fancy raisin brandy you drink out of a little glass. It’s rich, but dense. This novel is best in small bites - not because it’s bad, but because there is a lot to process.
Set in the far future where Earth is a memory and lonely humanity can walk the distance between worlds instantly, a threat reveals itself on the remote plant of Hyperion. A strange, deadly, god-like entity inhabits the planet, and it holds a few structures called Time Tombs, which enigmatically move backward in time and offer no clues as to their origins.
2 civilizations pay a lot of attention to this planet- The Hegemony & the Ousters (think industrialist Federation & science Visigoths). Everyone noticed that the Time Tombs are about to “open” and they both make a move to secure the planet. That’s the background.
In the midst of this crisis, the Hegemony leadership makes an oddly spiritual decision: it chooses 7 pilgrims to petition the killer deity on Hyperion (“the Shrike”) on behalf of the Hegemony, though the pilgrims all have their individual agendas. Tradition has it the Shrike will grant the wish of 1 of 7 pilgrims and kill the rest.
What follows is a story in 7 parts. The structure follows the 7 pilgrims’ exposition to the group of their own painful stories of their experiences on Hyperion and they all come to realize they were chosen by many factions and for many purposes.
This structure gives us glimpses into the galaxy of Hyperion. Each pilgrim is from a different world, occupation, and culture of the Hegemony. Priest, Professor, Private Eye, Soldier, Poet, and Diplomat each tell their story as they traverse a distance of breathtaking landscapes. Some of the stories are a bit slow, but each has its own flavor.
It’s is a very, very “journey not destination” type of story. Each of our 7 protagonists desperately needs to get to the Shrike. That need is deeply explained in each PoV. But in the end, the only narrative emphasis is on why the characters need to get to the Shrike and ask their boon. Whether they actually make it is, most definitely, another story.
In conclusion, I liked this novel a lot. I’ve read reviews of the rest of the series that turn out quite negative, but I’m reserving judgment. I’ve already picked up the next installment: Fall of Hyperion.