Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hyperion, Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons

I first read Hyperion quite a few years ago. So long ago, in fact, that with my rust memory it was almost like reading it for the first time again. As I recall, I really enjoyed it the first time around. I remember thinking it was a great book. Really great. Sometimes it stinks getting older. This time I can call Hyperion a good book, but not a great one.

Simmons clearly has a lot to tell, and even having read it before I was still surprised that it's only half the story, completed in The Fall Of Hyperion. I found the characters interesting and the Shrike compelling, but I seem to be growing tired of the "journey as story" phenomenon. Why is it so hard to find interesting stories that don't include the main characters traveling vast distances? Here we watch the main characters travel by space ship, tramway, wind wagon, and on foot. I didn't object that much as I was reading it, but it did sometimes seem that moving the characters around was more important than the rest of the story. That got a bit old, particularly in hind sight.

If I have any real gripes, though, they are actually less serious. There were a couple of places where Simmons desperately needed an editor. A few sections of repetitive text and a mention of a checking account (yes, really), for example, bugged me. There were also some possible printing errors in my copy, but they might instead have been writing errors an editor would have found and removed. Editing seems to be a lost art these days.

Finally though, the biggest irritant for me is the cover art. The Shrike has four (4!) arms dammit! Why on earth (or Hyperion) do we have four volumes in this series and only the fourth finally gets that little detail right on the cover? What sort of nitwit artists did these covers without reading enough about what they were painting to get it right. Gah! (Yes, this is trivial, I know, but it's amazing how it bugs me now as I sit here with the books writing reviews.)

Anyway, if you can get past these few oddities and irritants, Hyperion is a good tale. Be prepared to read Fall Of Hyperion too, though, or you'll never know how things end.