Hyperion - Dan Simmons WHAT THE SHRIKE!

What in the world did I just read, and why didn't I read it sooner? This book is so superbly written and crafted—it's easily one of the best modern books I've read, one that excels in storytelling and writing!

If I could give this book more than five stars, I definitely, definitely would.

The scope of imagination, wordplay, and critical analysis of humankind is astounding. I do think that the "frame" structure of the story, in which each character's tale slowly unfurls the plot, is superbly done. Each following story added a significant layer of depth to the book.

I don't know if I can contribute any more than what has already been said about this book, so here are some of my reactions for each tale.

[MINOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON END, though nothing that would devastate many expectations. Unless you like to jump into a story blind and can’t stand to have anything spoiled. In that case, stop reading now…]

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1. The Priest's Tale: I am of the cruciform. I never really thought a series of a few words would ever cause me to break out in goose bumps. Not even "Come play with us, Danny" or "Hello, Clarice" or even "We know how monetary policy works" has elicited such a reaction. The priest's tale was powerful—a delicate mixture of horror and cleansing salvation. Even after finishing the book, I feel that the other stories don't match up to the urgency and suspense of the priest's tale.

Welcome to the rabbit hole that is Hyperion.

2. The Soldier's Tale: This tale reached impressive heights in the beauty of its prose, and the irony of its conclusion. To put it crudely, the twist at the end of this story would probably top the episode charts of Punk'd, if Ashton Kutcher survived till the rise of the Hegemony. The story alternated between beautiful—especially when Kassad meets his special someone for the first time in person—and what I can only describe with a very impassioned and dizzied WTFJUSTHAPPENED. I listened to Kassad's entire story on audiobook. The narrator had the perfect voice for a hard military man like Kassad who is lost in love.

3. The Poet's Tale: Ah, this was probably my favorite story of them all. The potty-mouthed, frat house humor of this story, especially after Kassad's nostalgic and passionate tale, was a refreshing change. In my mind, M. Silenus was one of the most developed characters of the book, with the exception of Sol Weintraub. Seriously, some days, I wish I could respond to queries M. Silenus-style: "Goddamn poopoo." The winding yet always focused narrative of M. Silenus was perfect in its execution—just circuitous enough to get into the "mad poet" mindset, but told with enough purpose to direct us along in its torrential journey to the final conclusion.

4. The Scholar's Tale: This was a well told, emotional story. It didn't affect me as much as it did other people, probably because I was more in the position of Rachel than Sol. Still, this story was the most approachable in plot and superbly crafted.

5. The Detective's Tale: I haven't read many "whodunit" type of novels, and have never read any PI novels. You know, the ones where the PI is some grizzled chain-smoking guy that sports a thick trench coat and a tattered pork pie hat. [I'm aware I am massively stereotyping, or that I may have gotten the stereotype wrong... Please don't hurt me, I'm sorry!] The twist in this one is that the PI is a woman, and the person who steps into her office is a young, beautiful man with a very unusual secret. It took me a while to get into the story; Brawne Lamia isn't my favorite character. But it took off after a while, and the ending was satisfying, if not a little confusing.

6. The Consul's Tale: Well, that came out of nowhere. But in a good way!

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As a sci-fi newbie, I had some trouble swallowing down the futuristic elements, especially since the story throws you right into the heat of things. Unfamiliar terms made me nervous (Time debt? Fatline? Senate CEO? Huh?!) and may have pushed me into early retirement from the book if not for the rave reviews. To be honest, I still don’t completely understand this new world that we’re thrust into. But this is a story-driven narrative, and the stories that we’re given are well worth the entry into a brave, new, unfamiliar world.

FIVE EIGHT BAZILLION STARS AND THE HIGHEST OF RECOMMENDATIONS!