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Book Guest of Honour

May 8, 2007

Åcon’s “book guest of honour” is Dan Simmon’s praiseworthy magnum opus Hyperion, the first part of a longer work often called the Hyperion Cantos. The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and the sequel The Rise of Endymion extend the original Hyperion pair into a quartet.

There will be discussion about the book and its merits, structure, and influence on the field at the convention, so this might be a good time to go back and refresh your memories of it!

The novel is basically a retelling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. A group of seven pilgrims have been selected by the Church of the Shrike to travel to the world Hyperion and undertake a pilgrimage to the infamous Time Tombs to meet the Shrike. The Shrike is an almost-mythological being which appears unannounced at seemingly random times and locations, usually to kill people for no apparent reason with its blade-encrusted body. Its appearances have been more frequent of late, as have its murderous attacks, thile strange entropic activityoccurring around the site of the Time Tombs hs concinced many people that they are about to open. The pilgrims decide that sharing their previous experiences on Hyperion might provide clues to the reason for their selection for the journey as well as how they might survive their meeting with the Shrike.

Simmons’s writing is rich and fulfilling, his worlds colourful and wondrous, his characters quirky but satisfying. The novel combines high science fiction adventure with true sense of wonder and fascinating, well-developed characters, the quintessential combination of New Wave–Old Wave with echoes of Cordwainer Smith and Jack Vance on one hand, and Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula K. Le Guin on the other.

Hyperion has won both the Hugo and the Locus awards in 1990, and the Finnish translation has won the Tähtivaeltaja award for the best Finnish-language science fiction book in 1997.

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