Like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Hyperion by Dan Simmons is about a group on a pilgrimage and stories from each individual’s past. The larger story concerns 7 people who have been chosen to journey to the world of Hyperion where they will meet the Shrike, a god of violence. This part of the story actually makes up very little of the novel. Much of the book is taken up by each pilgrim’s tale. For this I was glad, because as each character’s story came to an end I looked forward to the next. This is what makes the novel so fascinating.
Each of the stories seem to be centered around time. Time creates or destroys, binds or loosens, and when altered it is to disastrous effect. There are moments in this book of profound sadness, an aching for the characters who suffer the effects of time and those who are in some way nearly immune. Although definitely a Science-Fiction book, Hyperion is character driven. The characters are more fully realized than most Sci-Fi, and that is what makes the story very good. I might not suggest this to those who have no interest in Sci-Fi, but if you have even a passing interest in the genre you should definitely consider it. It is easy to see why Hyperion was a Hugo Award winner.