Fall of Hyperion
“I have weighted the consequences of this remote… one would have to say statistically impossible… event many times. We find the risks acceptable. Should the impossible happens (…)” The Fall of Hyperion, p. 119
As I had immensely enjoyed Dan Simmons’ Hyperion a few weeks ago, I immediately went for the sequel/conclusion, The Fall of Hyperion. I alas found the second volume much less enjoyable as it was much less inspired and stunningly surprising than the first one… As illustrated by this very well-articulated criticism, I am certainly not the only one to feel as such. The innovative reproduction of Chauncer’s Canterbury Tales that makes stories within the story told in different styles is lost, and so is the complexity of the seven pilgrims, perfect in their imperfection: it seems like they caught a strange form of disease between both volumes, now solely working for the common good and ready to sacrifice themselves over and over again (since they can more or less resurrect!).
“First, that Abraham’s path of obedience can no longer be followed, even if ther eis a God demanding such obedience. Second, that we have offered too many sacrifices to that God for too many generations… that the payments of pain must stop.” The Fall of Hyperion, p.226
The fact that Simmons borrowed from many sources and myths was exciting in the first volume, but it showed its limits here, as he borrowed just too much! E.g., the connection between Sol and Abraham, the former being a scholar and philosopher spending his life analysing (and fighting) the motives for God requesting Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, but eventually giving his (Sol’s) sole daughter Rachel to the (monster) Shrike as depicted on the (ugly) cover of the book.
“I am merely a poet dying far from home.” The Fall of Hyperion, p.427
The other (original) idea of transplanting the poet Keats in this future dries out fast and the long agony of Keats in Roma does not add anything to the story line. Overall, I think that the second volume, The Fall of Hyperion, explains a lot (and too much) about the first book, Hyperion, but I am of the opinion that the story would have read better without those explanations, thoe too many deus ex machina, and suspensions of belief, and other points of view from implausible characters. A bit more work on the first book would have kept the magic and the mystery there, without going the easy path of space-opera war councils, malevolent AIs, and ambiguous cyborgs… So I really advise against reading The Fall of Hyperion, if you have not done so yet. (I know, I know: this is a 1990 novel so most people who could have read it must have read it!)