Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reflections: Hyperion

Adam C. Zern offers some thoughts on Dan Simmons' Hyperion:

"I would imagine that Hyperion is a book that would frustrate a lot of people.  It's 482 pages of, as far as I'm concerned, exposition and back-story.  The conflict and pending resolution established at the beginning of the book is most certainly not resolved by the end of it.  The book chronicles the back-story of 6 characters, in lengthy and detailed flashbacks, which one would expect to culminate into the final conflict of the story.  This does not happen.  Instead the book ends with highly developed characters about to step into the darkness of the unknown and confront the antagonist without their or the readers knowing what the final outcome will be.

I approvingly say most of that.  Although I did feel a little let down the main conflict was not resolved by the end of the book, I wasn't dismissive.  Surely the resolution I was expecting occurs in the follow-up book, The Fall of Hyperion.  I just don't think I'll read it.  For as well written as Hyperion is, the book was just a little too much for me.  Too graphic, too coarse, too profane, and I think too gratuitous.  The author could have easily told his story without providing some of the more base details he does.  As they say, it wasn't my cup of tea. 

I must make mention of one thing in particular when it comes to Hyperion.  The main antagonist, the appropriately called Shrike, is quite possibly the most terrifying villain I have ever come across.  Worshiped by some, feared by all, the so-called 'Lord of Pain' is undeniably unsettling to read about.  Its true motives are disturbingly opaque and remain so at the end of the book.  If I remember nothing else about Hyperion, I will remember the Shrike—more than likely in my nightmares.

In conclusion, I respect Hyperion for its character development and character-driven story.  The writing is great.  And it just wasn't for me.  There are a lot of book series and trilogies to be found, and this is one I more than likely will not finish."

Hyperion won the Hugo Award in 1990.

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