I first heard of this book from the Writing Excuses podcast, however, the Hyperion Cantos is also listed on NPR’s top 100 SciFi/Fantasy list at #51.  Dan Simmons did an excellent job with this book, and after only reading the first book I would argue that it deserves to be much higher.  We’ll see how the rest of the series stacks up, but I’m really impressed with this book.

Book Stats

482 pages

Science Fiction

First book in the series


The plot of this book is seemingly very simple, but as the book continues it becomes much deeper.  7 people are sent on a pilgrimage to the planet Hyperion where they will make a journey to see the Shrike, a savage monster who kills all of the people who are sent to it.  During the course of their journey, they tell their stories about how they ended up being chosen for the pilgrimage.

Their stories vary greatly, with one of them being right out of an action movie, another being a love story across time, and another being a tale about the life of a poet.  All of the stories are very well done, and as they’re told they start to reveal a larger plot that may end up with the extinction of the human race.


Various planets throughout the galaxy.  All of the environments are unique, well planned, and interesting to read about.


The seven characters who go on the pilgrimage are listed and briefly described on the first page of the book.  In my copy that page is even before all the copyright information.  The characters are the following: the Priest, the Soldier, the Poet, the Scholar, the Starship Captain, the Detective, and the Consul.  even from just their titles you can see where there would be some friction between them.  It’s difficult to succinctly describe all of their personalities, but they’re all very well done and you get to see a large part of their backgrounds throughout the book.


Wow, that’s the first thought after reading this book.  The only real comparison to this book is Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where a diverse collection of people share their stories.  But while I didn’t care for Chaucer’s story (or at least the parts of it that we read in my senior year English class) I loved this book.

Dan Simmons does an excellent job of writing very different stories for each of the pilgrims.  Obviously any time you have a variety of story types, you’re going to enjoy some of them more than others, it’s all dependent upon your personal tastes.  Even if a particular character’s tale isn’t the type of story you typically enjoy, they’re quick reads that drop subtle hints about the overall story of the war between Humans, Ousters, and the Core AI’s.

Of the individual tales, the one I’m going to single out here is the story of Sol Weintraub, the Scholar.  Without spoiling the specifics of the story, I’m simply going to say that it’s probably the most heart-wrenchingly sad story that I’ve ever read in my life.  The premise is wonderful and the execution of that story is flawless.  That story alone is enough of a reason to read this book.

Overall Grade

A fantastic idea and wonderful execution, I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book.


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1 Comment

  1. June 2012 Month in Review « Reviews and Ramblings

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