Teaser Tuesday: “The Fall of Hyperion”

So this week I was reading The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons, which is a “sequel”, of sorts, to Hyperion.

“I am the one who knocks.”

I say this book is a sequel “of sorts” because it seems to be more or less a straight continuation of the first book*, albeit with a different framing device; instead of the Hyperion pilgrims sharing their own backstories as they travel through the desert, we have a cyborg (more or less) who, via some manner of neural link, is “dreaming” what happens to said pilgrims as they near the end of their journey to meet the creature known as The Shrike. I still don’t know what The Shrike is, exactly; in a previous Teaser Tuesday I characterized it as “a possibly shapeshifting, definitely fearsome creature […] which essentially teleports around impaling people and hanging them as ornaments from its gigantic backwards-in-time-traveling aluminum Christmas tree” and I suppose that’s still as good a description as any. In a way this is reminiscent of my own two-book series Strings, which consists of Shards and Ravels, and which was originally a single thousand-page book until I split it up into two parts, figuring that nobody was going to pay what I, a nobody, would have to charge for a book that long. Of course, Dan Simmons isn’t a nobody, and Hyperion won the Hugo award, and the field of SF literature is of course littered with doorstoppers (looking at you, Peter F. Hamilton), so if Dan Simmons had wanted to release this as a single thousand-page volume he could certainly have gotten away with it.

Now, for the most part, Teaser Tuesdays try to avoid spoilers; however, The Shrike being rather notorious for popping up out of nowhere to murder the pilgrims who go to Hyperion to seek it out (why any pilgrims continue to do so despite the knowledge that it’s likely to get them killed is left as a thought exercise for the reader), the fact that it starts popping up out of nowhere and murdering protagonists is not so spoilery as it might otherwise be. To wit:

“No!” screamed the poet. He beat his fists against scalpel blades and razorwire. He pulled and struggled and twisted even as the creature hugged him more closely, pulling him onto its own blades as if he were a butterfly being mounted, a specimen being pinned. It was not the unthinkable pain that drove Martin Silenus beyond sanity, it was the sense of irretrievable loss. He had almost finished it. He had almost finished it!

Dan Simmons, Hyperion

So what we have here is one of the pilgrims, a poet named Martin, who has been suffering for years from writer’s block and has been unable to finish his epic poem, the Cantos. On Hyperion, he finally finds himself able to write again, only for The Shrike to show up and do Shrike-type things to him just before he completes the work. So naturally what drives Martin around the bend is not that he’s about to get carried off and impaled on a giant spiky tree; it’s that this is happening just before he finishes his poem. Having myself had an incident that interfered with finishing a novel I had been working on for years—in fact, I was working on it four years ago, when I read Hyperion—I can empathize.

A little later on in the book, we have a crowd being whipped into a frenzy by a religious zealot. Observing this happen is the book’s cyborg narrator, who muses thusly:

I was thinking about how free of mobs recent centuries had been: to create a mob there must be public meetings, and public meetings in our time consisted of individuals communing via the All Thing or other datasphere channels; it is hard to create mob passion when people are separated by kilometers and light-years, connected only by comm lines and fatline threads.

Dan Simmons, Hyperion

Hmm. It’s hard to create mob passion via the “datasphere” (i.e., the Internet) when people are connected only by comm lines? Hmmm … Well, not all SF ideas age well over the course of 30 years.

Anyway, the novel I was working on back in 2017 when I did the Hyperion Teaser Tuesday was, of course, Father’s Books; and because that was the book I used for my own Teaser on the original Hyperion post, I figured I would use it again for the Fall of Hyperion.

“I have something for you, Ozzie,” Susan said, holding up a big envelope.

“What is it?”

“The information you wanted about the auction at the Arvidsson place.”

“Oh. Great. Thanks. Here, trade you.” He took the envelope and gave Susan the recorder. She looked at it, then at him. “I want to send the whole shebang to Jake.”

“Jake?”

“Yeah, Jake. At the place.”

She raised an eyebrow at him.

“The tape restoration place.”

She raised the other eyebrow.

“Where they restore tapes.”

She laughed. “It’s called Audiocraft. How is it you know everyone in town but you never remember the names of companies we do business with?”

“I don’t run into companies at the diner or the park.”

James Viscosi, Father’s Books

Companies might be people, according to the Supreme Court, but you aren’t likely to bump into them out on the street.

* Although I’m normally pretty good about remembering the details of books I’ve read, I honestly had no clue what was going on when I started The Fall of Hyperion; the original book had a quite convoluted plot and loads and loads of characters and I could hardly remember who was who and what was what. I could have gone back to re-read Hyperion, but I will cop to, instead, visiting a web site that summarized the plot. And then just skimming it.

One thought on “Teaser Tuesday: “The Fall of Hyperion”

  1. I think I’d learn the lesson early on and avoid going to Hyperion least I wish to be killed. If I’d be writing and just about to complete my masterpiece, I’d be mighty peeved to be impaled on a spiky tree. Very peeved.

    I think I like “datasphere”. I might use that in future. “I’m just going on the datasphere to send some emails”. Kind of retro cool. 😉

    Like

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