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review 2017-03-23 15:01
Hyperion / Dan Simmons
Hyperion - Dan Simmons

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

 

Canterbury Tales in space. With the plotting of Agatha Christie.

Earth is just a memory, destroyed long ago, but it looms large in the galactic consciousness. Hyperion is a world on the edge of things—not really part of the Hegemony of Man, not really part of the opposition either. Ruled or haunted by a being known as The Shrike.

As a birder, I am familiar with shrikes. They are songbirds that think they are raptors. When you find one of their larders, you feel like you’ve discovered a serial killer’s lair—they use thorn bushes or barbed wire to impale their prey until needed to feed chicks or themselves. Simmons borrows this behaviour for his creation and it feels ominous.

As for the Canterbury Tales aspect, seven pilgrims are traveling to Hyperion on the eve of galactic war. As they make their way to the Time Tombs on Hyperion, they agree to tell their tales of what has prompted their participation in the expedition. As their stories unfold, we acquire the background that we need to learn more about Simmons’ universe and enough to tantalize us about what may be happening.

As to the Christie angle, I realized as I enjoyed each character’s story that Simmons had skillfully crafted all of the tales to fit together in interesting and intricate ways. Events in each person’s life, reaching back many years in every case, have drawn them to be where they currently are. Have they been manipulated by the Shrike? Or is this a case of massive synchronicity?

I loved the ending of this book and if it was a stand-alone, I could live with that. However, I am pleased that there are three more books to explore this intriguing universe.

Book 251 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2017-01-27 10:33
Powerful historical fantasy
Drood - Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons book DROOD is a masterpiece of sorcerous historical fiction. The sorcery doesn't lie in some otherworldly supernatural changes to history, but instead lies in the astonishing historical verisimilitude that Simmons brings to his portrayal of Victorian society, Charles Dickens and his milieu. Simmons helps us to smell, taste, and live in the often-crumbling and often-opium infused reality of that society, and to understand the complexities of the relationships around Dickens.

 

What's fascinating to me is that Simmons hardly ever has to bring in anything supernatural in order to make a book spooky, otherworldly and astonishing. Instead, he simply tells one version of Dicken's life, and the clarity he brings to that observance of a life is powerful. 

 

I found the book enthralling: one of Simmons best works. 

Source: nednote.com
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text 2017-01-02 18:23
TBR List, or 7 Owned Books to Read in 2017
Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges,Andrew Hurley
Twilight of the Empire - Simon R. Green
Little, Big - John Crowley
The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Ghost Story - Peter Straub
Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons

Like most readers, I have a boatload of books I own that I have yet to read. This year, I will read 25 of them. Here are the musts.

 

1. Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges,Andrew Hurley   Collected Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges  

    I've read a bit of Borges, and have deeply enjoyed it. That's why this is here.

 

2. Twilight of the Empire - Simon R. Green    Twilight of the Empire - Simon R. Green  

 

   The Deathstalker series is the only one I have yet to read by Green, and these are the novellas that introduce that universe. I own the whole series, so I should maybe get started, yeah? Besides, Space Opera rocks!

 

3. Little, Big - John Crowley  Little, Big - John Crowley  

   I've started this a couple of times, and got distracted. Not this year! It's la lyrical beauty that can't be rushed, but I will make the time.

 

4. The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly  The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly  

 

    I've read and loved the Gates series, as well as Connolly's second collection, Night Music. I started this one years ago, and will actually follow through this time.

 

5.  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke  

 

    Another one I got distracted during (are we sensing a theme?), this is a serious beast of a book, but I've loved what I've read, and the depiction of Faerie is unique, to say the least.

 

6.  Ghost Story - Peter Straub  Ghost Story - Peter Straub  

 

   A genuine horror classic that I've been threatening to read for about a decade. There is no reason I haven't read this yet.

 

7.  Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons  Carrion Comfort - Dan Simmons  

 

   Another big mother(shut yo mouth), this fell into the must list after I read The Terror last year. That one started slow, but was frigging awesome. I'm hoping this one kicks in a little quicker.

 

There's my seven must-reads from my ridiculous TBR pile, but there's a lot more where those came from. At least 18, some even more imposing.

As imposing, anyway.

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review 2016-09-25 12:10
The Fifth Heart, Dan Simmons
The Fifth Heart - Dan Simmons

What should have been spectacular (Sherlock Holmes meets up with Henry James to solve a murder mystery that has international repercussions, whilst doubting his own existence) disappoints on all fronts.

 

The usual flaws (excessive wodges of unnecessary research detail and thinly disguised lit.crit. essays) are all present and still wrong and here they drown a short, exciting novel until it's dead beyond recovery. Additionally, the whole, "is Holmes real?" scenario reads like the author read Redshirts and thought, I can do a more literary job than that! but failed to actually have anything profound or interesting to say about it.

 

Dan, remember when your books weren't pretentious, overly long and largely boring? I do. Can we have more of those, please? If you want to write history, write history; if you want to write biography, write biography; if you want to write lit.crit. write lit.crit; if you want to write novels, write novels!

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text 2016-09-10 10:34
Reading progress update: I've read 384 out of 664 pages.
The Fifth Heart - Dan Simmons

Progress with the mystery is very slow.

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