Strange things sometimes happen to SF books, you know. From time to time, some author tries to write just another 'good' book with interesting plot, complex characters and one or two main ideas. Instead, he writes something very different: great book with swarming plot, realistically sophisticated characters and an endless horde of different ideas. We all know that 'Dune' was supposed to be just a 'book about ecology', and the entire Star Wars were born from an old japanese movie about an exiled princess and devoted young samurai. We all know what it came to, right? Well, let me now present you just another piece of such sudden luck: 'Hyperion' by Dan Simmons.
At the very first point I have to reveal one little secret about Dan Simmons: he's an absolute SF maniac. This funny man considers that SF should be given much more respect than it is given now, and that SF should be treated like yet another rightful gentre of modern literature. And he tries his best to write an SF book, which would be referred as a 'wonderful piece of modern literature' not as 'yet another SF book'. Well, he's rather close to this goal with his 'Hyperion'. I'd say very close.
So what's it all about? At the very first glance eveything is rather simple. Seven pilgrims from different points of human universe are taking trip to distant planet Hyperion, where they are about to face ancient unexplainable evil force, known as Shrike. Each of them has his/her own history and goals. Each of them has some relation to Shrike and Hyperion. In the very beginnig of their long voyage they deside to tell their stories to each other, thus making the trip and coming challenge with Shrike easier. Reminds something, ah? Its all good old 'Centerberry Stories', methinks.
And so, boys and girls, sit close and listen carefully as those seven pilgrims (well, six, actually, but that's not the point) tells us ther tales. A Priest, a Soldier, a Poet, a Scientist, a Detective and a Consulae tell us about the world they are living in, about Hyperion and about their reasons for this deadly crusade. Each story is a book in itself, each of them is written in different style and is completely wonderful. In each story, the Question is asked and sometimes (only sometimes) an Answer is given. Each story is different, but they perfectly match each other and altogether they form one of the most beautiful books in modern SF history.
As you may have already guessed, this book is written with really good literal language, just like it should. It's quite clear, that Simmons is one of the most literally-educated writers in SF ever. 'Hyperion' is full of references to classical english literature and poetry, and its especially closely linked to a wonderful english poet Keats, and his unfinished poem 'Hyperion'. And its quite clear that Simmons is familiar not ONLY with those 'oldies' - his book is almost-but-not-quite cyberpunk, so he is clear to be familiar with modern SF, too.
The most funny thing about this book is how it ends - most suddenly, I'd say. Just when the battle with Shrike is supposed to start, the book SUDDENLY ends. This leaves you completely flustrated and more than ready to IMMEDIATELY run and bye the next book of Hyperion series - 'The Fall of Hyperion'. But that is completely another story...
P.S. If by some miracle you still haven't guessed: I DO recommend you to read this book. You'll be sorry if you don't!