Dan Simmons' Hyperion
( & other SF. )
I like Dan Simmons' work ( - meaning the Hyperion series, of course: it's like Lois McMaster Bujold & her creation Miles Vorkosigan - "What else is there [by that author]?" one might well say); Though it may appear at first to be a mere super-hodgepodge of all possible diverse elements, it has its special moments.
My favorite of those moments is, I think, the place where a passage from John Keats is used as follows:
" ...as he whispered to me:
'A thing of beauty is a joy forever,
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness . . . '
I ... nodded as if the old man had said something sensible. It was clear that he was mad."
[Ch. 4, 'Endymion' ]
- spoken and quoted by an ancient and decrepitly ugly man, 'with a face like a turtle' - ! -
To quote appropriately [Ch. 59, 'Endymion' ]: Finding passages like these... "that is the best reason of all to read."
Christ is suffering, the Empire is falling, cultists are chanting, Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims ride forth; energy beings, Tesla trees, Thomas hawks, floating islands, cyborgs, A.I.s, teleportation, super-giant Sequoia trees that become spacecraft, Virtual Reality, hackers in cyberspace, blue androids, poet-kings, demonically idiotic pseudo-Christians*, sophisticated people's orgies, a fearsome all-powerful demon who flips his role as Toho's Godzilla did,**,
a prophesied Savior who comes to life - and is a woman, a great leader of all peoples (who is a woman), vast reaches of space and time - and small regions minutely described, ultra-military soldiers & battles, extreme youth (the backward-aging Rachel, & the younger Aenea) & extreme age, fiery rebellion*3 and quietly desperate loyalty, time travel, space travel, free-fall bathing, teleportation, the Web*4, reincarnation, mountaineering & speleology*5,
the Wizard of Oz and the poems of John Keats, child sacrifice & military infanticide, horrors - & wonders now and then (which are not so easily managed by a story creator, though both take effort to be well-written...)
. . . in sum, 'Hyperion'-'Endymion' = (Frank Herbert + Jack Vance)2.
* - I refer, of course, to the Bikura, those obscene parodies of 'successful' mid(-20th-)century-style Practical (techno)Christianity ... ( - the phrase, "pseudo-Christians," is from George Bernard Shaw. Don't blame me.)
** - in the third book of the series, the Shrike becomes a benevolent deus-ex-machina, protecting the savior-child Aenea in her wanderings. Quite a comedown ... (-'As Tohos Godzilla did', in reference to the Toho Studios movie monster Godzilla starting out malevolently destructive but gradually turning to 'the good guy' in the later movies, versus e.g. Ghidora, etc...) In the fourth book, 'The Rise Of Endymion', the Shrike's role reverts to that of an emblem of the sufferings of humankind as redeemed by vigorous action against the inhuman ( ... or something like that? symbolic figures can be hard to embody verbally.)
*3 "Let them come! I'll be thirty-five and not alone and let them come if they dare!"
[words of Shipman Merin, declaring Maui-Covenant's revolt, in 'Hyperion', Chapter 6, 'The Consuls Tale - Remembering Siri', p. 462]
*4 - the first mention of it being in Chapter 19 of 'Hyperion', written before our real-world World Wide Web took off - an odd example of predictions coming true (or, metafictional creation?) in the manner of much of the Hyperion series.
*5 - "speleology": cave exploration or travel through underground areas: 'Endymion' Chapter 12 (end) & Chapter 14 (beginning). The mountaineering is mostly in 'The Rise Of Endymion', of course - see the cover.
This page, long unfinished, is now complete.
The text was written mainly in the A.M. of March 24 1999, and all of it except the quotes, by Russell Hess.
- Page created September 2000 and before, and finished October 16-17-18 2001, by Russell Hess, Webmaster (email@example.com) of 'UpSky2' & 'UpSky'.