the low down on new books


Reviewed by Brittney

Just the Facts: by Dan Simmons.  481 p.  Published 1990 by Spectra.  Listened to audiobook, narrated by  Marc Vietor , Allyson Johnson , Kevin Pariseau , Jay Snyder , Victor Bevine.

Verdict: ★★★☆☆

Who Cares? Adult Science Fiction

Short Bio (from publisher): 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.

Eyewitness Account: I tend to the enjoy the Fantasy end of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy spectrum, so my review of this book is a bit colored by the fact that I don’t find as much enjoyment out of the advanced technology-cool gadgets side of Sci-Fi.  I liked this book, but not enough to rave about it (perhaps I’d like it better if I finished the sequel, Fall of Hyperion, as these are really one long book published into two novels). 

Thumbs up:  the frame story format in which each person tells their own story (very Canterbury Tales-like), the gradual unravelling of mystery surrounding the Shrike and the motivation behind each character’s trek toward doom, the beautiful writing style, and the haunting nature of each individual story.  The strength of this book is that it’s composed as six short stories that fit together like a puzzle. The stories in and of themselves are each beautiful in a bleak, melancholic way.  This is no happy tale; each story is one of tragedy and sorrow.  However, they all explore (in the great Sci-Fi tradition) the ideas of what it means to be human – to love, to suffer, and to have hope.

Thumbs down: the book opens with a BARRAGE OF TECHNO GOBBLEDY-GOOK that left me wondering when the narrator would get around to speaking in English (this feeling drops off fairly quickly though, but not the best first impression), the first pilgrim’s story was agonizingly slow to get into (I finally looked up a synopsis on Wikipedia and read just the summary of the first pilgrim’s story before deciding it was worth ploughing through), and all the stories have a rather lengthier-than-they-need-to-be feel to them.  Not sure if the characterization really depended on the amount of detail that Simmons goes into.

If you like imaginings of our universe in the 30th century and all the cool techno-gadgets we’ll be using as well as the great lengths we will have exerted ourselves to destroy our limited resources, then you’ll love this book.  If you like Sci-Fi that explores the deeper underpinnings of our humanity through melancholic tales, then you’ll appreciate this book.  If you can’t stand Star Trek, then try Connie Willis instead.

Warning:  this book includes offensive language and some adult content (both violence and mild sex scenes).

Notable Quotes:

For those who do not write and who never have been stirred by the creative urge, talk of muses seems a figure of speech, a quaint concept, but for those of us who live by the Word, our muses are as real and necessary as the soft clay of language which they help to sculpt.”

“I now understand the need for faith–pure, blind, fly-in-the-face-of-reason faith–as a small life preserver in the world and endless sea of a universe ruled by unfeeling laws and totally indifferent to the small, reasoning beings that inhabit it.”

Other Books Read by This Author: none.

What are other people saying? Keeping the Door, Sandstorm Reviews, Inverarity is not a Scottish Village


★★★☆☆ Plot Development

★★★☆☆ Characterization

★★★★★ Writing Style

★★★☆☆ Original Idea

★★☆☆☆ Page Turner

Overall ★★★☆☆


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