Monday, September 6, 2010

The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons [1990]

As the Ouster invasion bears down on Hyperion, the six remaining pilgrims must make their way to the Time Tombs for their final confrontation with the Shrike. Meanwhile, Hegemony CEO Meina Gladstone must decide the fate of human civilization while being advised by the seemingly prophetic dreams of Joseph Severn, a cybrid recreation of the dead poet John Keats.

The second book in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos, The Fall of Hyperion is a direct continuation of the story started in Hyperion, though it breaks from the former's distinctive style of Canterbury Tales-esque frame to tell a more traditional narrative. However, this makes it no less engaging, with the scope shifting from the personal tales of the individual pilgrims to the grander scale of the eve of a massive interplanetary conflict and their role in it. The new character of Joseph Severn serves as a link between the pilgrims' ongoing plight on Hyperion and the center of the war effort directed by Meina Gladstone, whose role is greatly expanded in Fall. Both Severn and Gladstone provide fresh perspectives on the already sprawling plot and are welcome additions to the cast. The original pilgrims themselves are thrust into a much more traditional adventure arc and this may disappoint those looking for more of the Chaucerian style from the first book. The multiple plot threads laid down in those individual tales do come together, though, and the interweaving fate of the pilgrims as they resolve their story-lines makes for a worthwhile tale in and of itself.

All in all, Hyperion was probably the better of the two books, though given their intended design as literally two halves of one very large book, this is probably unfair. Not being terribly well versed in the classics of English literature, I had to look up many of the Keats references liberally scattered throughout the book. Understanding these allusions made the experience much more enjoyable, even if it was a little time-consuming going back and forth. A passing familiarity with Keats' works is at least recommended to get some of the references Simmons works in. The obvious recommendation is Hyperion, which you really should read beforehand anyway.

In Short
The Fall of Hyperion is a satisfying second half to Hyperion, and should not be missed by fans of space operas and John Keats alike. But definitely moreso space operas.


I think not having classes gives me way more free time to write these things (*poke* Fern), but we'll see how long that lasts comes mid September. Also, that's two for two wherein the recommendation is by the same author. I swear, I'll get better at that!


  1. Dear Daniel,
    Please don't scoop books I plan to do! I was even re-reading Hyperion in order to refresh! But we shall see who is more dedicated once the semester rolls around!

    Your miffed co-author!

    P.S. Thanks for updating, nonetheless.

  2. Have you read the Endymion books as well? If so, how do you think they compare to the Hyperion books?

    I remember that there was some rather gratuitous violence and action in these books, but it still had so many amazing descriptions that I still loved reading them. The tesla trees, swimming in zero gravity, flying along solar winds, the river that ran across multiple planets, the Lions and Tigers and Bears...

    That is a darn weird book cover. What is that supposed to be...?