In Dan Simmons’ classic scifi novel Hyperion, 28th Century mankind has spread across the galaxy but are still behaving pretty much the same as ever. Consequently, a war is approaching between the Hegemony – a civilisation who live on a ‘web’ of planets linked by portals and faster than light ships, and the Ousters – a group of nutters who live in the fringes of space. Add to this mix the Artificial Intelligences, who were created by man but then buggered off to live in a semi virtual place called the Technocore. They still pretty much run the Hegemony though and without them nothing will run. The AIs are up to all sort of mysterious things in the background and are almost god like in their knowledge.
Got that? Good. As the war heats up forces start to converge on a planet called Hyperion. The AIs select a group of seven pilgrims to travel to this mysterious world and a place called the Time Tombs. These tombs annoy the Technocore because even though they can predict nearly everything, the Time Tombs buck that trend by being baffling. Oh, and they are guarded by a psychopathic spiky metallic entity called The Shrike that kills everyone and may possibly be travelling backward through time to kill everything that ever lived.
While the pilgrims travel to the tombs they wonder why they have been selected for the trip and so begin to tell each other their stories. So it is basically like the Canterbury Tales in structure. There is a priest, a soldier, a scholar and so on, and they all have a unique voice and fascinating story.
Apologies for the long intro. I could have just said that Hyperion by Dan Simmons is like a Canterbury Tales in space and is superb. It is also fascinating and brilliantly written. Each story stands alone as a brilliant tale yet while gradually telling you about the universe the characters inhabit and the various mysteries that surround the Time Tombs and the uber violent Shrike.
What I have given you is a very brief overview of the setting and the structure of Hyperion. There is so much more and it is all good. It helps that all the stories are brilliant and completely different from each other while being linked by the over-arching narrative of the journey. I’ll cut to the quick – I loved this book and can’t wait to read the sequel Rise of Hyperion. It is a classic I had left on the shelf for too long and I now highly recommend.