By Dan Simmons; Read by Various
19 CDs – 21 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Themes: / Science Fiction / Artificial Intelligence / Aliens / Religion / Starships / Simulations / Transportation /
Seven people, all headed to the planet Hyperion to visit the Shrike, find themselves on the same ship. Regular pilgrimages are made to the Shrike, but these seven have been granted a visit to the Shrike together. To find out why this is, they all agree to tell each other their personal stories of what brought them. The result is a Canterbury Tales in space. A priest, a soldier, a poet, a scholar, a detective, and a consul each tell their story; all separate, all intensely personal, all very different, yet all involving the Shrike in some way.
The book is set in the distant future, and the ideas are plenty. There’s farcasting, where doorways are created to other worlds. One character has a house where every room is on a different world. Costs a fortune, but it can be done. There are artificial intelligences, starships, and sims. Against this backdrop is the Shrike, an alien creature that lives in the Time Tombs, and the seven on a pilgrimage who land in a city on the planet Hyperion, then make their way to see the Shrike over land. “Pilgrimage” is definitely the right word here, because the whole book has a mythic-religious quality. Each person is dealing with very difficult stuff, and what each person hopes to gain from the Shrike when they finally get to see it is nothing short of intervention of a higher power.
Audible Frontiers did a wonderful job with this audiobook. It used to be available only through Audible, but now Brilliance Audio is offering a hardcopy version on CD, which is how I listened. Each story is told by a different character, and each one uses a different narrator. The narrators were all excellent, so this is a perfect presentation of this book.
All seven of the stories are fascinating, well-written stories. There isn’t a weak one on the bunch. This is a top-shelf science fiction novel, up there with the greatest books of the genre.
Highly recommended, without question an SFFaudio Essential! The single caveat is that you must plan to read the next book in the Hyperion Cantos, (called The Fall of Hyperion), because the story doesn’t end with the end of this book. The Fall of Hyperion is also available from Audible (digital) and Brilliance Audio (CD), as are the two books that complete the series, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion. This is the only one I’ve read, but I expect I’ll be reading them all.
Posted by Scott D. Danielson