A review by caitcoy
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

challenging dark emotional mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Hyperion is the first book in the Hyperion Cantos and feels very much like a sci-fi/horror blend of The Canterbury Tales. With strong connections to a certain Romantic poet from Old Earth and many references to other genres and religious themes, Hyperion feels more thematic than escapist speculative fiction and occasionally gets a little bit pretentious with it. It's fairly leisurely paced as each character reveals their connection to Hyperion with their story and Simmons provides very little in the way of info-dumps, expecting the reader to instead figure it out as they go along.

For me, this style worked very well. I tend to get bored with a lot of info-dumps and Hyperion kept me intrigued as I tried to puzzle out certain elements and make connections between the stories. It feels like the sort of story that would really reward knowing the references and re-reading at a later date. The characters themselves feel a bit archetypal so I was more than a little surprised when some of the stories had me on the edge of my seat or in tears. And I loved the way that Simmons played with genre conventions, particularly setting The Detective's story as a noir-style with a female perspective.

Hyperion is definitely a book that I don't see working for every reader. The lack of explanations for the worldbuilding and the story telling structure may not work for you if you prefer to know exactly how things work or if you find a particular character's story to be a bit of a slog. For me, the intrigue and way Simmons played with themes and references really made me enjoy this story and want to pick up the rest of the Cantos.

Characters: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Intrigue: 9/10
Logic: 7/10
Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall: 8.14/10

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