THE PILGRIMS PROGRESS
Seven strangers embark on a once in a lifetime mission, each with a strange tale to tell.
(Hyperion Cantos, Book 1)
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Paperback, 496 Pages
Date: 12th May 2011 (First Published 1989)
It’s difficult deciding how best to describe Dan Simmons’ Hugo Award winning novel, Hyperion. Though it is a full-length novel it is structurally more like a collection of short stories loosely connected by an overarching conceit; a narrative choice acknowledged to have been directly inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Also, though Hyperion is a book that is ostensibly science fiction, stripping away the copious amounts of technobabble leaves a story that reads very much like a work of literary fiction. This is perhaps not surprising given the author’s known fondness for classical literature, which is very much in evidence throughout Simmons’ narrative.
In spite of the numerous classical literary influences that can be found littered all the way through the book, Hyperion should in no way be construed as being inherently derivative. It is unquestionably an original, unique work of fiction; it’s hard to think of another novel quite like it. And leaving aside Simmons’ literary pretensions (or perhaps snobbery) it is obvious that he put a great deal of creative effort into the science fiction aspect of the backdrop for the novel. The detail in which he writes about the technology, history and culture of his futuristic setting is instrumental in conveying just how well constructed and deeply thought out it all is. Which is all the more impressive given that not all of these elements are necessarily vital to the plot, which could work just as well without them.