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06/30/2003 Archived Entry: "Hyperion on my mind"
Posted by CKL @ 05:56 PM PST

I finished reading Dan Simmons' The Fall of Hyperion last week. I admit, I often hurry through books, especially ones which are heavily plot-driven. Even so, there were a lot of Big Ideas packed into that little paperback, and by the end, I felt like my head was about to explode. Seriously.

The story is a direct continuation of Hyperion, but I understand why Simmons (or his editor) split it in two. First of all, if it had been a single book, it would have been a couple thousand pages long. Harry Potter notwithstanding, most readers aren't going to lug around a book that requires heavy machinery to lift. Secondly, and most importantly, the two halves are complete narrative opposites.

Hyperion is all leisurely storytelling, and has been compared to The Canterbury Tales; Fall of Hyperion metamorphoses into a slam-bang interstellar war epic that recalls Larry Niven, Tom Clancy, and Virgil in scope, if not style. Hyperion describes the world of the Hegemony in great detail, and Fall tears it all down.

I admire a writer who is willing to create a universe for the express purpose of destroying it. Maybe it's because I'm so reluctant to abandon my own stories after putting so much work into them. Sometimes I don't want to finish writing something because once I'm done, I'll have left that world. I can't fully separate my roles as creator and audience. I almost feel as if the story would cease to live once I had ended it, and I don't want to leave yet.

I know, it's silly. We all have our neuroses, don't we?

As for Fall of Hyperion, I still feel like I didn't quite understand everything that happened in the last hundred pages or so. I'm also not convinced all the time travel stuff actually works out. But hey, that's why I'm reading Endymion.

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