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Dan Simmons’ Hyperion novels

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Like I’ve said before, book reviews are tough because by the time I remember to review a book, I’m halfway through the next one. But this time I’m halfway through the fourth in a series, so it’s no big deal. Jim Treacher mentioned Dan Simmons and his Hyperion quartet (it’s really two books split in two each for market purposes) in my comments a while back. Just a couple of days later I saw a Dan Simmons short-story collection at a bookstore in Boulder (I can’t remember the name. Of the collection, not the bookstore. Although I can’t remember the name of that either, come to think of it).

So I picked it up. One story was a neat one about a suicidal former teacher in Colorado who was fired for being a drunk and drove his jeep into a mine shaft. A classic Colorado suicide, all the elements are there: drink, a jeep, and a deserted mine shaft. But instead of dying he was whisked away to some parallel universe seemingly run by a female former student, who’s trying to kill him. There was no one else there, just empty streets and unlocked stores. So he found a gun, some ammo, and some liquor. Then she shot up the liquor and closed down all the liquor stores, so he was stuck being sober. That’s terrifying!

The other story I remember was set in the Hyperion universe, a few hundred years after the four books. It didn’t seem interesting to me, a story about creatures that used to be fully human but modified themselves with solar wings and the like so they could live in deep space. Yawn. I skipped it, and then came back to it later. What do you know, it was fascinating. Far future, alien culture seemingly bent on destroying a near-alien human culture, attempts to decode their language, all shit I dig. So I bought the Hyperion novels.

The first one sucked me right in. I especially enjoyed the Brawne Lamia/Johnny Keats cybrid detective story buried in it. As much as I love hard-boiled detective stuff you’d think I would have read more of the noir classics. The second wasn’t quite as good, too much waiting around wondering who would be eviscerated next. Or who would magically recover from their assumed evisceration next. Still good, but not quite as much.

Endymion sucked me right back in. Throughout the whole book you basically have no idea what’s going on. Why is this girl so special? Why is the Catholic Church sending super fast ships after her that accelerate so quickly they kill all their passengers, except the seemingly but obviously not human commandos, requiring a painful, confusing resurrection after each leg of the trip? Nothing gets explained, which is fine with me, it just made me more interested in the final book, The Rise of Endymion.

I’m about halfway through it now, and it’s just as good as the rest, and better than The Fall of Hyperion. I’ll tell you more when I’m done.

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About Matt Moore

  • The collection you are talking about is Worlds Enough and Time.