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Dan Simmons – The Fall of Hyperion

Title: The Fall of Hyperion
Author: Dan Simmons
Year: 1990

When I turned the last page of Hyperion, it felt like I was left with a number of interesting threads that in themselves were extraordinarily interesting and well-written, but so far hadn’t been woven together to form a greater whole. In short,  Hyperion was a novel that craved a sequel. Naturally, since the first book contained so many intriguing threads and characters, a follow-up has the potential of being even better, at least if Dan Simmons manages to coordinate this plethora of creative eruptions.

Does he? The Fall of Hyperion is a direct sequel to Hyperion to such an extent that they can be regarded almost as one book split into two volumes. Simmons denies it was written in that way, but I refuse to believe him since the first volume simply doesn’t make much sense without the second. In this novel, the author does indeed make a praiseworthy effort to combine everything from Hyperion into a scheme of epic proportions. Most of the time, he also succeeds.

The problem is that the novel is too shattered, focusing on too many characters and too many different story lines, leaving me as a reader able to appreciate the overall outcome, but without any particular impression of individual characters or their life stories (this was the strong side in Hyperion, because there, each character was granted a section of their own, making their tales more coherent). Fairly short episodes relating to each character, sometimes with cheap cliffhangers certainly don’t make it any better.

Still, the overall picture is worthwhile. The solution to the mystery of the Time Tombs and the Shrike are probably unique (at least, I haven’t come across anything like it my reading). It incorporates the whole of human history, a great deal of science, religion and philosophy, all neatly interlaced with a science fiction setting suitable as scenery for such events. Ideas are still the strong point of Simmons writing, and in this volume, we get to know Simmons universe a lot better.

Three and a half snails will have to suffice, though. Hyperion is decidedly better than its sequel, and even if I regard them as one book, I still think I would find the opening half more interesting. Also, spending more than one thousand pages telling such a story seems a bit exaggerated; in that case I would have preferred a much shorter ending to the story, incorporated into the first volume. Simmons have written a number of other books, two of which are related to Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion. I won’t read them now, but I probably will some day. Simmons ideas are good enough to merit reading, regardless of if he actually manages to weave them together into a good story.

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  1. Svante’s avatar

    My main beef with this sequel is that most of Simmons (indeed excellent) ideas are more interesting when they are more mysterious. The first volume evokes a much stronger feeling of sense of wonder in me. Also, it’s far too long considered as one novel split into two. Still, Simmons does create a fascinating universe, but his novels are too long in general. I probably won’t read anything else by him, at least not in the forseeable future (I’ve read Ilium/Olympus besides the Hyperion books).

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  2. Olle Linge’s avatar

    If i would have to actually read them, I wouldn’t be very keen on these books either, but it’s a lot easier to listen to long books than it is to read them, imho. What’s your impression of Ilium/Olympus, then? Roughly the same quality of ideas as in the Hyperion Cantos?

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  3. Svante’s avatar

    Yeah, pretty much. Better in the beginning when most things are still shrouded in mystery. The literary references are a bit more interesting in Ilium, I think, but that might be because I’m more interested in the Homeric epics than in Keats.

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