Hyperion was recommended to me by an Italian friend just recently, and before he and his fiance went back to Italy, they were kind enough to give me a copy. The story seems to jump right in, setting the tone of a mystery the reader has to untangle. The story is told through the eyes of series of pilgrims who start out on the last pilgrimage to a very strange part of Hyperion; a planet on the very edges of human expansion in the galaxy. Hyperion's past is sketchy and only partly understood by the pilgrims; who have spent most of their lives closer to the central, more inhabited parts of the galaxy. Moreover, none of the pilgrims is quite sure why they were chosen to participate in this last pilgrimage, and they know even less about their fellow travelers.
The larger story unfolds during the pilgrimage, when the travelers decide to tell their personal stories, and how Hyperion came into their lives. The tales help to pass the time on the road, and help them get to know one another. Echos of The Canterbury Tales came to mind almost immediately, but the author also had The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in mind.
Hyperion is tight, and carefully written. The whole story doesn't manifest itself in any one of the seven tales the pilgrims tell, or even in all the stories combined. Rather, its in what isn't said, and when I think about it, it also comes from our own stories as readers. What we bring to the story helps to fill in the blanks, making us, as readers, the eight pilgrim. I guess that means the story is a little different for everyone.
There are other volumes about Hyperion and I'll pick them up to see whether the story continues from here, or if the enigma of Hyperion is just fertile ground for stories.
Hyperion, by Dan Simmons, (c) 1989. I read a 1995 Bantam reissue paperback.
I read three books on my trip to Italy, so I've got two more coming up soon. Yeah, vacation!