Guest Book Review: Hyperion

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Hey Space Cadets, today I have the privilege of allowing a friend and fellow author share his thoughts on a book.  I’ve extended this invitation before to anyone who wants to post a book review; I’ll happily publish your thoughts.  Because of this review, I’ve added this book to my TBR (To Be Read) List and can’t wait to dig into it. Lately I’ve been reading awesome scifi, and working on my super-duper top-secret project.  I can’t wait to tell you about, but until then let’s get to author Matt Herron.

M.G. Herron is a science fiction and fantasy author based in Austin, TX. He writes fast-paced sci-fi adventures such as The Auriga Project and The Alien Element, the first two novels in the Translocator series and two thirds of a trilogy. The third book is in production.

But not all heroes wear capes. By day, he’s a content strategist who works with local tech startups, an adventure junkie who loves travel and rock climbing and hiking. You can buy his books and follow his adventures at mgherron.com.

As a writer, Herron has been on a mission to read a hundred science fiction classics. Most recently he finished reading Hyperion, a Hugo Award-winning 1989 science fiction novel by Dan Simmons. Here’s a short review of the book and his first impressions. 


I’ll say this about Hyperion: it doesn’t pull any punches.

This epic science fiction fantasy novel follows a priest, a warrior, a poet, a detective, and the rest of their group on a tragic and often violent pilgrimage to the planet of Hyperion.

Their quest leads them not only to the Time Tombs of the Shrike, but down the battered, bloody, and often sexual fringes of their lives and memories.

Each of these characters is complex and nuanced, mysterious and determined. I don’t always like all of them… In fact, scratch that—I actively dislike most of them. They’re selfish, egostistical, vain people. But they turn out to be fascinating people too.

Dan Simmons’ flawless characterization always manages to pull me into their stories, to surprise me in new and unexpected ways.

This book is a series of frame narratives takes us deeper and deeper into the history of the Hyperion Cantos universe, which is vast. It’s a futuristic vision of a multi-planetary human society, a society who has seemingly conquered—or at least enslaved—space and time for their own purposes. Their rich citizens have houses with rooms on different planets. And they continue to reach with their colonial ambitions farther and farther into the stars.

This, I realized before it’s ever explicitly stated in the book, has caused some backlash…to put it mildly.

The colonial tone is set in the first frame story, told in the voice of the priest. He tells the group of a journey into a section of wild, native jungle that would have made Joseph Conrad swoon. It gives us our first glimpse into the ego and eventual madness that can drive explorers.

One by one, the rest of the characters unfold their own tales. It took me some time to become grounded in the present-moment narrative of the story, which is told from the Consul’s point of view—a character that remains nameless through most of the first book, but whose entrance in the last act turns everything on its head.

Simmons’ prose is rich and poetic. It can be dense at times, which will put off some readers, especially those who are impatient for action or used to something with the pace of a thriller from page one to “The End.” But if the book hits you at the right time like it did for me, believe me, it will sweep you off your feet.

Along with interplanetary colonization, Simmons plays in a sandbox of portals and laser weapons, of Artificial Intelligence and immortality, of robots and microchips and biotechnology.

But brace yourself. This is no pulpy sci-fi adventure. Hyperion is considered a masterpiece by some, and thanks to Simmons entrancing style and inventive worldbuilding, I suspect it will continue to haunt people for many decades to come.

More on M.G. Herron

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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