Hyperion • 1989 • SF novel by Dan Simmons

★★★★★

Meta: isfdb. SF Master works. SF novel of Dan Simmons published in 1989. It won the 1990 Hugo, and Locus awards.

Review Hyperion went easily into my list of favourite SF novels which deserved the Hugo and Locus Awards 1990. It is a frame story like the The Decameron or The Canterbury Tales, covering multiple characters and time-lines in a 28th century future where humanity is spread over galaxies.
The world-building with hard-core features like FTL, longevity, AI or genetic enhancements are revealed through humanistic stories of several protagonists covering aspects of human life: War, religions, politics, literature, family and crime. In contrast to Kim Stanley Robinson you don’t get the concepts explained by rubbing your nose into the topics but just by mentioning or comments. You build a picture in your mind of the world without a direct explanation.

Considering only this first novel of the whole series, the stories feel more like short-stories or novellas – so don’t expect closure! I don’t know if the next novels in the Hyperion universe will show us the protagonists’ future but I hope they don’t.

The different stories change style according to their narrator: There is the pan-enhanced, poopoo citing, hilarious drunken poet which directly follows a interstellar war action focusing a colonel. You find a very emotional story where a father tries to rescue his backwards-aging daughter diseased with the “Merlin sickness” (c.f. The Once and Future King). A James Bond like action detective story around a murdered cyborg who incorporates John Keats. And a interleaving of Romeo and Juliet with relativistic time delations of interstellar journeys – Simmons published this story “Remembering Siri” in Asimov’s SF Magazine in 12’83 as the first narrative of the Hyperion universe. And I loved the first story about a Roman-Catholic priest finding his religion in a ethnological discovery journey that read like Jules Verne.

This is SF for advanced readers to be re-read!
PS: Don’t miss Jo Walton’s review on Tor.com!

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