I've put off posting anything about the "sequel" (really, a continuation of one single story, as opposed to separate episodes) to Hyperion (my review here), The Fall of Hyperion, to give my initial reaction some time to reflect. For, I found it to be as fascinating, moving, intellectually stimulating, satisfyingly dense and rewarding as any book I've ever read. More so. So clearly this cannot be the appropriate reaction to a science-fiction book, of all things, even one whose predecessor won the Hugo award, and itself nominated (I need to read the book that won that year -- -- because I can't fathom how this book could have lost) for the award.More than a week later, I still find myself thinking about it. Fascinating because of the sheer amount of fabricated technology for a society 700 years in the future -- technology at once amazing yet plausible. A society that has artificial intelligence, instantaneous singularity transporters (dubbed 'farcasters'), humans all linked to the worlds-spanning web, and on and on. And what makes it more amazing is that the book was written in 1990, way before the constant communications of today -- you can easily see that we are on our way there, for better or for worse.
Moving because of the richness of the characters, the ones whose back stories were told in intricacy in the previous novel, the ones who only appear for a chapter or two, the main characters of this book who don't even appear in the last one. The depth of writing makes every character's reaction believable and their fates resonate.
Intellectually stimulating beyond the science-fiction technology because of its segues into not only literature but theism. What To know and write poetry; if you haven't read any Keats before this book, by the end you will feel that you know his life-story and most of his writings quite well. Also, the question of what it is to be alive, to have a god or gods. Of time and space, resurrection by natural or unnatural means, and to seek out and destroy your rivals. I really wasn't expecting the theistic questions and real thought-provoking plot twists, and it was quite a revelation.
Satisfyingly dense in that the book was well-researched, details never glossed over but never belabored, interactions explored but never boring, and an intricate plot that never felt forced. In short, an intimidating work.
And finally, rewarding in the conclusion of the story. The giant plot developments so late in the game, the revelation of final tactics and the impact of the final act. Not everything tied up in a neat little bow -- far from it -- but an 'end' that I still think about and smile for its boldness. And that absolutely guaranteed reading his follow-up series.
Of course, my other initial reaction has to do with how I came across the books: Cinematical's story about how Hollywood is making them into a movie. Yes, both books into one movie. And if you have read all of the above, you can probably see how I can come to the simple conclusion that they are going to ROYALLY SCREW IT UP. But that's okay, really it is, because I've had one of the most rewarding reading experiences of my life, and it'll be okay. As long as Brett Ratner doesn't direct the film. Then it is war.