The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Published: Doubleday/Headline (1990), Gollancz (2012)
Series: Book 2 of the Hyperion Cantos
Awards Won: BSFA and Locus SF Awards
Awards Nominated: Hugo and Nebula Awards
“The pilgrims have reached their destination, and they wait at the foot of the Time Tombs for the arrival of the deadly Shrike. But where is he? The pilgrims expected violence and fear, but not boredom and confusion. However, as the Ousters and Hegemony clash above the planet, the Time Tombs are beginning to open.
Far away, another version of the John Keats AI cybrid sees this conflict from the side of the powerful CEO Gladstone, providing her with updates on the pilgrims’ progress from an unconscious connection. The situation between the Ousters, the Hegemony and the Technocore, and the implications of events on Hyperion, may be more complex than they first appear.” ~Allie
I listened to The Fall of Hyperion on audiobook, as I did the first novel of the series. This time, it was a single narrator, so it didn’t have the radio drama quality of Hyperion. I’m not sure yet if I’ll read Endymion on audiobook or traditional book, since I haven’t bought the next two books yet. I would strongly recommend anyone planning to read the series to begin with Hyperion, as this is a direct continuation of that story.
Hyperion built up the expectation that there would be an immediate dramatic showdown with the Shrike when they reached the end of their pilgrimage, and I was pleasantly surprised to see this subverted. I found it more interesting to see what each character did when there was no longer a common goal uniting the group. The lack of an instant resolution raised the tension as well, since the group was running out of food and the de-aging baby Rachel was running out of life. When things did begin to happen, it was not always clear what purpose the events served or what they meant for the unfolding story. I think this approach worked especially well because I was already invested in the stories of each of the pilgrim characters, from reading Hyperion. I was eager to see how each of their journeys would end, and whether they would ultimately achieve their goals.
Away from Hyperion, another John Keats cybrid kept the audience apprised of the situation between the Hegemony, the Technocore, and the Ousters. He was kept close to the center of Hegemony power, primarily due to his connection to the Hyperion pilgrims. This part of the story felt full of political meetings, military strategy meetings, and socialite dinner parties. Due to the massive amount of meetings I attend in my professional life, these sections simultaneously stressed me out and bored me. The information was certainly useful for the story, I just wished there was some less agonizing way to communicate it. As for the dinner parties, I have noticed that these are really popular plot devices in many older science fiction books. I am not really sure why, since I find them without exception to be tedious and pointless. Once Keats broke free of the endless meetings and dinners, though, his story started to pick up. He connects the experiences of the pilgrims with the broader, cosmic story that is taking place between the different intelligences in the universe. The ending was impressive, and I’m excited to see how the final events will change things for the future.
My Rating: 4/5
I’m continuing to enjoy the Hyperion Cantos, even though I was a little frustrated by the amount of committee meetings and dinner parties in certain sections of The Fall of Hyperion. The first book in the series set up the pilgrims, their stories, and their expectations for what would happen with the Shrike, while also establishing an exciting far-future universe. This second book involves politics and war between two human societies, the Hegemony and the Ousters, as well as their connection with the AI Technocore. The pilgrims’ role was hinted to be massively important for the future of the species, and I enjoyed that this came into play in a way that I did not expect. I’m looking forward to seeing what Simmons has in store for the Endymion half of the Hyperion Cantos!