I just finished reading the second book in Dan Simmons’s Hyperion Cantos, and in some ways I’m upset with it, but looking back at it, I realized that the book was in some ways almost set up to fall flat even before I started reading it. The first book had a very unique way of telling a story, but the problem comes from the fact that there was no way to tell the second part of the story in the same format as the first. I’ll get into some of that later, on we go.
Sequel to Hyperion
All of the characters from the first book are back in this book, as well as two other viewpoint characters. Large portions of this book are told from the viewpoints of Meina Gladstone and Joseph Severn. Gladstone is the CEO of the Hegemony and as such is the head of the human government. She plays a large part in the book as she is working to save the Hegemony from various threats that they face throughout the course of the book. She is definitely an effective administrator, one who works quickly and definitively towards her goals. Severn is another cybrid recreation of John Keats, and he has a kind of telepathic link to the pilgrims on Hyperion that he uses to keep Gladstone informed of what is going on there.
The book is split between Hyperion and various other planets in the Hegemony.
The plot of this book was strange to me. I was expecting to see more of the pilgrims as they met with the Shrike and continued their trip on Hyperion, but the book focused more on events that were effecting the Hegemony as a whole. Basically, Gladstone knows that there is a threat to the human race, and she is working to avert it. This starts out as a battle against the Ousters which was hinted at in the first book, but it isn’t quite as simple as it seems at first glance. There is a lot of intrigue and betrayal that takes place before the book finishes up.
As I said in the intro, this book is very different from Hyperion, and for me, that’s not a good thing. Hyperion was great because it focused so much on the individual lives of each of the characters. In this book, the characters just seemed lost to me. Obviously the story is told from their point of view, but this book deals more with the Hegemony as a whole and less with the individual characters. There were also a lot of things in this book that didn’t seem to add up. The overall story of the battle for the survival of the human race was interesting, but the individual character stories didn’t fit in that main story. To me it seemed like most of the aspects of the book were simply crammed in because they were part of the first book, not because they belonged to this story as a whole. The problem with saying this is that I don’t really know how it could have been done better. He had to move away from the style of intimate character stories to tell the overall story. But for me, the intimate character stories were what made the first book work.
This is a very different book from Hyperion, unfortunately the direction that it went didn’t work for me.