Top critical review
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starts well, drags near the end
on May 7, 2004
I'm a harsh critic, so my three stars means i still recommend this book. Simmons has a knack for language, that's for sure. And being able to create an entire universe that we can understand in all its complexities is not an easy thing to do. Having said that, the book starts out really well. I'll forego plot but to say we're dealing with seven travelers on a pilgrimage, each who must tell his "story" to the others concerning why he/she is making the trip. Echoes of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales for sure, and even hints of Arthurian legend as well. The first story, told by father Hoyt--which actually is not his story but told from the diary of his mentor--had me hooked. It was Sci Fi, it was theological, it was imaginative and fresh. Simmons made Hyperion a mystery in it's own right, an unexplored planet with creepy dwellers and underground labrynths. The Shrike, its mysterious lone alien inhabitant, is either God or the Devil or just some mysterious alien who kills at will. It forged me on. Kassad's tale was pretty good, though not nearly as interesting. It was militaristic, adventurous, about a fallen soldier who should be a hero but is villified due to actions that saved the world. Not to mention Simmons delves into temporal anomolies and paradoxes during this tale and doesn't explain it all too well. Maybe that was his point, i don't know. Weintraub, whose daughter is regressing to her newborn state (who is 30 when the tale is told) tells the tale of watching his daughter live backwards in time. While interesting, and unique, it dragged on until the inevitable conclusion I knew was coming. Simmons chronicled 30 years of living backwards...it was too much. Get on with it already. Lamia's tale is pure pulp detective story. I liked it, it's fun and fast paced. Throw in an AI consipracy about murdering other AIs as well as the human race, and yeah, it could be a movie. No gripes there, all kudos. And finally the Consul's tale, which like Hoyt's is told from the comlog of his grandfather, is pretty boring. It sets up a revelation any seasoned reader is able to spot from the beginning of the book, which is not a big deal, but it takes focus of the pilgramage--and therefore the book--away from the Shrike and all its deified qualities. Basically it makes the first 400 pages moot. Then again i haven't read Hyperion Fall yet, which i most certainly plan on doing, so maybe I'm wrong. Still, it left me closing the book somewhat less enthused than when i started. This was my first Simmons book, and he won me over, and despite my somewhat harsh review, this book was definitley worth the price, and i will definitely read the series. If nothing else, this is a fresh approach to the genre, and for that he must be commended.