Bantam Spectra, 1995.
Paperback, 482 pages.
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In the 28th century, humans have destroyed Earth and have moved outward to the stars. On the planet Hyperion, there exists a mysterious and powerful creature known as the Shrike. The Shrike appears to operate outside of this universe's laws of physics, and has at times gone on murderous rampages. A new religion has been founded to worship it, some fear it for its propensity for violence, and others have determined to destroy it. As the galaxy heads towards interstellar war due to escalating conflicts between species, seven people are chosen from all walks of life to make a pilgrimage to the Shrike in the Valley of the Time Tombs to petition it to grant a request, as it has been known to do on occasion. Each pilgrim has different reasons for making the journey, and a hidden agenda. As each of the stories is relayed, it becomes clear how these individual people are all part of a larger pattern. But the journey to Hyperion is fraught with dangers, and there are quite a few people who don't want them to arrive at all.
Hyperion is the first book in the bestselling Cantos series, which also includes The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion. Originally released in 1990, Hyperion won the Hugo Award for best novel. The book follows the style of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: each pilgrim's story is told in turn. The travelers gradually get to know each other as the trip wears on; the group has people from all walks of life. The priest, the warrior, the administrator, the beautiful private detective, the poet: each tells his story with distinctive tone and style. The book takes much of its symbolism and subtext from the life of Romantic poet John Keats, and Keats lovers will greatly enjoy all the literary references to the poet and his poetry. Simmons is an incredibly gifted writer, and Hyperion is an absolutely gripping story. The world of the Hegemony and its world are brilliantly imagined, and each of the pilgrim's stories could easily be read as a stand-alone novella. Hyperion is easily standing the test of time, and is a must-read for lovers of SF.
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