Hyperion by Dan Simmons

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As you may have seen by my Best Books of 2015 list, Hyperion was one of my favorite books that I read in 2015. I just received a copy of the sequel The Fall of Hyperion for Christmas and since I did not remember much of the book except that I loved it, I decided to reread it.

And you know, sometimes when you reread a book that you loved, you don’t like it as much. This was not the case, in fact now I love this book even more.

I don’t really know how to describe it, this book is a mix of science fiction, fantasy,horror, literary fiction, poetry and awesomeness (because yes awesomeness is genre :P). It is a retelling of the Canterbury Tales (that I have not read) and it follows the story of seven people going for a pilgrimage to Hyperion, a planet where lives the Shrike, a creature both worshipped and hated for different reasons.

The Hyperion Cantos is a quartet formed of two duologies where Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are the first story arc. The structure of Hyperion is really interesting since it’s kind of a collection of short stories, each one being the tale of a pilgrim where we learn why this particular person has been chosen by the Church of the Shrike for the pilgrimage.

It is pretty difficult to do a synopsis of each of those without spoiling the book so I am going to talk about the different themes of each story and my thoughts about them :

The Priest’s tale : “The Man who cried god

The first tale of this book may be the strongest. It is a mindblowing reflexion on faith and humanity. It is probably going to shock you and give you horrible visions while at the same time being incredibly interesting in a pretty morbid way. To say the least, the first story set the tone for the whole book. I remember that the first time I read the book, I was scared that all the story where going to be as horrific. (Don’t worry, they are not.)

The Soldier’s tale : “The war lovers

The second tale follows the story of Colonel Kassad. This is my least favorite of the book. It is interesting but I didn’t connect at all with Kassad and his strange love story with the woman he met. As a reread, the ending of it was still very confusing. This one is also oriented in the horror side but it allows the reader to learn more about the Hegemony and the way it rules the Web which is basically the biggest alliance of planets in the Universe in the book so this was still interesting.

The Poet’s tale :”The Hyperion Cantos

This story follows the life of Martin Silenius, a very old crazy poet. As a reread, I enjoyed this one a lot more. Since it follows a poet who likes to make sure everyone knows he is one, this story contains various poems, especially from Keats (since Hyperion in itself was inspired by the poem of the same name written by Keats centuries ago). Some poems made me want to cry and even if Silenius is a complete mental, his tale was beautiful and really interesting especially the part where he searchs for his Muse… and how he finds it.

The Scholar’s tale : “The river Lethe’s taste is bitter

This tale follows the story of Sol Weintraub and his daughter Rachel. It is the most heartbreacking tale in my opinion. It was a wonderful reflexion on parenting and love. I don’t even kow how I managed not to sob during the whole reading of it because I could hear my heart being crushed at every pages.

The Detective’s tale : “The Long good-bye

It follows the story of Brawne Lamia a PI working on a assassination attempt of a AI. This is not favorite story of all however it is the one that actually made me cry. Twice. If you have to know something about me : I don’t ever cry while reading. I can cry while a watching movies or listening to music but it never happened to me before to shed tears while reading. It doesn’t mean that I am not affected by the story, a lot of times a sad/depressing/heart-wrenching moment makes me want to cry. But I never really do it. And Hyperion made me cry. I don’t know why it happened for this tale, maybe because it was the one I related to the most. I don’t know but I cried once the first time I read the book and twice while rereading it. Yep. Anyway, the recurrent themes in this tale  are love and what makes us humans. One of the interrogation raised in this part is that at what point an AI is that different from a human if its body is the same and if it feels the same emotions as us.

The Consul’s tale : “Remembering Siri

This is the last tale of the book. The first time I read it, it confused me quite a lot but rereading it, I don’t know why. Maybe it was because since it’s the final tale and that it tried to tie a lot of threads together, I didn’t understand some elements and it lost me, I don’t know. However as a rereading I really enjoyed. It has intriguing ideas on time and colonizations and I think that it was a good way to finish this book.

 

So yeah, as you may have guessed, I really liked this book especially as a reread. I know that some people struggle with the structure of this book because every story has unique style since they are not told by the same character : the tone of each tale and the themes adressed are different. I don’t mind it but I can understand why some readers might not enjoy it.

I would still recommend this book to everyone though. Please give it a try, I don’t think that this is going to leave you indifferent.

★★★★★

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