Superb scifi ideas. Poetry, imperialism,coexisting with AIs.,
This review is from: Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos) (Mass Market Paperback)
Excellent. Hard scifi.
As they make their way toward the Shrike and the Time Tombs, on the planet Hyperion, six characters tell their individual stories. Each of them have been altered by the mysteries of Hyperion in his/her own, unique way, and now they have been called by the Shrike church to make a pilgrimage to the Shrike.
Each story is fascinating, and often macabre and tragic.
As we hear the stories one by one, we also get to know more and more of the universe in which our characters live. The introduction to the universe is painless, and integrated seamlessly into the tales.
And the universe is magnificently constructed. A Hegemony of mainstream humanity, guided/used by a Core of Artificial Intelligence. There is a description of interacting with the AI Core in a manner similar to that popularized recently in the Wachowski brothers' "Matrix" movies. There is a population of humans evolving separately, the "ousters", feared and fought by the Hegemony. Both groups left Earth many centuries ago (the "Hegira"). The Hegemony worlds are connected by instantaneous-travel portals. But to reach non-Hegemony worlds, such as Hyperion, one has to do real near-light-speed travel, with the corresponding relativistic effect of aging slower than the people on the planets.
Human nature and capitalistic greed haven't changed much. The Hegemony civilization trashes the environment and life of new planets, and exploits populaces as it expands. Lower classes continue to live miserable lives, in underground slums. There is a rich crime under-world. Publishers continue to exploit poets.
The future-view is eurocentric, but not excessively. Among the pilgrims, there is a palestinian and a jew, and a most important character, the Consul, appears to be of Pacific Island ancestry. In fact, the colonization of the Pacific Islands happens again in this far future, as the Consul's native Maui-Covenant planet is incorporated into the Hegemony. There is an Indian planet and an East Asian planet, and many references from non-White cultures --the Hegira, the Benares, goondas, maybe other references that I've missed.
Other than human nature and imperialism, the story is also -- quite surprisingly -- about poetry.
And finally the question -- which of the six stories did I like best? I thought for a long time and couldn't come up with an answer. They are all excellent. The Scholar's tale is maybe the saddest on a personal scale. The detective's tale introduces us to Hegemony technologies and the AI core.
Maybe the Consul's story is the saddest of all, on a global scale. It expresses the author's idea that imperialism and genocide are fundamental to human civilizations. And just as Whites have crushed the rest of us here on Earth today, so will dominant cultures continue to scr_w others, for eternity.