KAMN Show #1: Hyperion

As was discussed earlier, I have had problems over the years trying to understand why there was so much hype about Dan Simmons’ Hyperion being such an outstanding novel, so I figured that’d be a good topic for a first show.

Joining Joe and myself for the discussion are Jack Mangan, author of Spherical Tomi and fight promoter for “Duel of the Fates”, and Sean Hoffman, network engineer and scifi aficionado.

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Comments

  1. Yes, there were technical difficulties in editing that led to this being put up on Tuesday, but dammit, I really wanted it to go out on Sunday, so, it’s dated Sunday :)

  2. Well, I guess I better go find a copy because I’ve never read it, but I’m really looking forward to your podcast!

    I keep meaning to send you an email with ideas for future shows but I’m lazy so here are a couple:

    Julian May’s Pliocene Exile and Milieu books

    Anything by Robert Heinlein, but Moon is a Harsh Mistress might be topical (movie rumors popping up again)

    Katherine Kurtz’ Deryni ‘verse

    CJ Cherryh’s future histories

    (in case you didn’t notice the pattern, I really like fictional ‘verses with lots of stories set in them)

  3. I couldn’t get into the Pliocene Exile books, and I did try since a friend of mine loved them, and it’s been a while since I’ve read Heinlein, so I’d have to brush up.

    I enjoyed the first Deryni trilogy, thought that the King Kelson trilogy was okay, but the next batch didn’t hold my interest, so I stopped reading any of the subsequent Deryni tales.

    About the Cherryh books, are you talking about the ones that begin with Foreigner and Invader? I haven’t read those, but a long time ago I read her Faded Sun trilogy… might be time for a reread of those (when I have time!)

    There’s also Saberhagen’s Empire of the East, and Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, too.

  4. “I really wanted it to go out on Sunday, so, it’s dated Sunday”

    Kinda fits the whole “past is present” meme, doesn’t it? ;)

  5. Well, those were just my suggestions.

    As for Cherryh, I was mostly thinking of the Company Wars (Downbelow Station, etc) and Cyteen books, possibly with the Chanur books. I never read Foreigner, et. al. and it’s been a long time since I read the Faded Sun trilogy, although I do remember liking them a lot. I’d re-read them but, see, there was this ‘family’ incident a few years ago that cost me a lot of my books, and I haven’t wanted to spend the money to replace everything I lost.

  6. I’m all for suggestions! Keep ‘em coming!

    I think I read Downbelow Station, but not the following stories… and I can’t recall much of it, alas.

    FYI, the Faded Sun trilogy was recently reprinted in an omnibus edition… all three books collected as one. So it wouldn’t cost as much to reacquire ;)

  7. Wow…I didn’t know that anyone else had read the Deryni Books by Katherine Kurtz. That has been my absolute favorite series for years and years…the pages are yellowed and Camber of Culdi is falling apart I’ve read it so much.

    I’m also a huge fan of the Uplift books by David Brin, The Gap series by Stephen R. Donaldson (and the Thomas Covenant books, but it’s been YEARS since I’ve read those), and the Sunrunner books by Melanie Rawn. There’s lots more, but I’ll stop there. :)

  8. The Deryni books are among my favorites. Then again, I’m an SCA geek, along with my other flavors of geekdom.

  9. Kari, I’ve had to rebuy the first three books of the Sunrunner series twice. I bought them when they first came out, then again about 6-7 years later because Dragon Prince was literally falling apart.

    And I’ve since bought the first three books again, the new trade pb editions, and passed on the mmpbs to a friend who I know would enjoy them.

    Hmm… I’m having a thought here.

  10. I see everyone is dodging the topic of the show neatly in here, so I’ll start the controversey.

    How in the world can Hyperion be compared to LOTR? Yes LOTR was a long book chopped up into three books, BUT you caould also get a sense of where it was going. Same with the Hobbit. There was conflict, there was character change, there was everything a story should have.

    As Joe pointed out, there was NONE of that in Hyperion. It took pages and pages just to get a person to stand up and walk off the dang ship. Get on with it. It’s nice to stop and smell the roses for a while and the prose is excellent, but the story gets lost in the shrubbery with this one.

    For me this was a book that took months to finish because it was SO slowly paced, there’s no ‘real’ action, and each scene is dragged out for pages after pages with only a smattering of dialogue. It was like looking at a very detailed painting REAL close up and trying to find the story among the pretty colors.

    That’s my take anyway and I can understand how some can like something like this. Though it failed to really grab me past book one. I didn’t care enough when I was done to fight with another. I’d rather read something where ‘stuff’ happens.

  11. First thing: Great job on the show.

    One thing that I got from the show is that Summer was a little (maybe more than a little) annoyed that the book was violating a lot of “rules” about story telling. That’s one of those things, like a bad itch, that can be really distracting. Glaring errors, or pet-peeves can really prevent someone from liking a book, or movie for that matter.

    For instance, my wife *hates* LotRs solely because of the writing style. She can’t get past it. “Who wants to read two pages of history about a rock?” she says. Hyperion is like that, but I enjoy it’s immersive aspect. Perhaps Simmons could have trimmed the book down, but I think that would have harmed the book.

    From one point of view, nothing happens. I don’t agree with that. As you read the stories, you get a sense of a bigger picture. Hyperion provides a mosaic of a battle that is about to begin.

    Yes, the book is “like looking at a very detailed painting REAL close up and trying to find the story among the pretty colors.” It is like the famous Seurat painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” — it’s the pointilistic painting featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. If you spend too much time focusing on the dots, you’ll miss the big picture.

    Hyperion is definitely not an action book. Though it is a bit of work to read, I think it is worth it.

  12. For the “shoot-em-up” definition of “action”, I think Kassad’s tale was really well-executed, and even, at times, kind of disturbing.
    If you mean plot-moving “action”, I really never felt the sluggishness that the haters all cite. I felt like the whole thing was building well toward the landing on Hyperion and the meeting with the Shrike.

    I’d agree that all build (even if it’s entertaining) and no payoff would suck – like if “Stairway to Heaven” had 20 more minutes of the mellow part before the climax – but I felt like Hyperion’s individual vignettes were rewarding unto themselves.

    I think this particular comparison to LOTR is valid. *SPOILER ALERT* Hyperion’s “off-to-see-the-wizard” ending is just as incomplete as Sam and Frodo floating away at the end of “Fellowship”. In both cases, I rushed to read the next book. If I’d disliked either, then I’d probably have stopped there (like Summer did).

  13. I stopped by the bookstore to check out Hyperion before your show aired. Now I’m glad that I didn’t pick it up. I like to read a story and use the story as a guide for my imagination. If the author has to sit there and describe every last detail, I’ll wait for the movie.

  14. I really like the critical way you guys discussed the book in your show. And I am one of the folks who went out bought and read the book before downloading the show, finished it yesterday with the feeling that I have to read the next one asap. I totally agree with the love it or hate it attitude. My husband and I are both avid readers of sci-fi, but knowing him I am sure he will not like the whole theological aspect of the book whereas I found it very intriguing. “Stranger in a strange land” is a favorite of the both of us, can’t wait for your show on it.

  15. Very interesting podcast,liked it a lot and looking forward to the next one.
    I can understand Summer’s comments if Hyperion was the only book.but it is only the first half of the story and Hyperion needs to be read as such.The Fall of Hyperion lifts the story to a whole new level.
    The 2 books are in my list of favorite books of all time!!!

  16. I have to agree with MadCat.

    I read Hyperion and didn’t think that much of it, ok but not a standout. Felt to much like The Canterbury Tales – I was just not appreciative of that style of writing.

    Years later (after hearing people raving about it) I read it again, and then read the sequel The Fall of Hyperion straight after. My change of opinion was remarkable! It’s easily in my top 10 these days and would recommend the books to anyone!

    I am about to listen to your podcast now, and after listening (so far) to your Ladyhawk, Stainless Steel Rat and Blade Runner podcasts I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

    Happy to be the first comment in 5 years as well!

    Cheers!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Episode 1 of the Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas podcast featured Dan Simmons's Hyperion, and that lively discussion prompted me to track down another Simmons book that had been recommended to me multiple times: Ilium, which recently became available in paperback and now has a sequel on the stands, Olympos. [...]

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