This was probably the best scifi read on my list for a fair while. Hyperion is a cover version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but turned into a compelling space opera.

“Hyperion” is a world within the human galatic shere of influence, but contains a mysterious complex of temples populated by a pathological killer called “the Shrike”, and it is to Hyperion that our protagonists are travelling. To pass the time they agree to tell their own tales, and these form the bulk of the detail of the novel. It is a very good mechanism, and serves the story well.

My initial thought was that the use of stories would undermine the novel, and result in a disjointed narrative poorly strung together by the pilgrimage the characters are undertaking. I was pleased to find that while the stories are distinct, they also interrelate very subtly and the novel itself hinges off them well.  However, there is a sequel that I’m thinking will fill many of the unresolved gaps in the story itself.

The real strength of Hyperion is Simmons story-telling ability. Each of the tales actually feels like it was written by a different author, and each has its individual appeal. For instance, the tale of the “Wandering Jew” and his daughter is deeply sad, and, well, just plain great. On the other hand the Soldier’s tale is saucy, while being both arousing and disturbing.

All in all? Highly recommended.

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