My brother urged me to read this one and he was right. Hyperion is down-right literature. It built much like Cantebury tales or Decameron (or Sandman: World’s End) where several people tell their own tales inside the story. I happen to love this structure.
Seven pilgrims are on their way to the planet Hyperion while their galaxy is going to war against the Ousters. The seven people don’t know each other and so one of them suggests that they should tell each other why they have been granted the right to be on the pilgrimage. They’re going to see the Time Tombs and the mysterious Shrike who is apparently destined to end the whole human race. Most of the book is about their stories. Their journey advances between the stories.
All of the stories have a distinct feel about them; some are told in first person and some on third. There’s a touching story about parents’ life and sacrifices for their child and a hard boiled intergalactic detective story. Two of the stories have intimate connection with time: in one of them a woman ages backwards or rather gets younger as time goes by and on the other a pair of lovers are separated through time because one of them has to travel in hibernation from planet to planet. The first story is told through diary excerpts.
I liked all to stories even though some of them didn’t really seem to have much relevance for their main quest. The whole doomsday cult with the Shrike is very interesting and I also find it interesting that it could have risen to power at all. That so many people are apparently fascinated by the end of the human race.
On the other hand, it has far too few female characters and whole tone of the book was pretty pessimistic. And the ending was just not cool.
The Ousters were very interesting and well done. At first they reminded me of the Reavers from short-lived but excellent tv-series Firefly (I even got the Reaver music playing in my head when they first appeared) but they turned out to have a culture of their own.
Luckily, my brother has the next book in the series.