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!