Hyperion is (somewhat disappointingly)the first book in a series. Seven Pilgrims must travel to the outback world of Hyperion in order to trek to the Time Tombs wherein lies the enigmatic and terrifying Shrike (who impales people on a great thorn tree). These pilgrims are all different but all share some personal connection with the Shrike and/or its mythology. Each pilgrim reluctantly tells their story in turn (much like the Canterbury Tales) as they make the journey. Is the Shrike a tool of divine retribution, a monster, a creation of future humankind or all of the above?
Hyperion is the type of good writing that produces paragraphs and ideas that ask to be copied and memorized or at least re-read a few times. While a complete and well structured novel it also operates like a series of short stories with each pilgrim's story being unique and having its own voice. The stories range from seriously creepy, to romantic, to erotic, to heartbreaking. Dan Simmons does such an imaginative job giving each of the pilgrims their own story while weaving them into the tapestry of a very believable future world and the over-arching plot. This is the type of sci-fi that focuses on character and plot and less on describing cool futury techno-gizmos and alien cultures. Its about people who for one reason or another have been driven to confront the terrible and unpredictable Shrike.
Really wonderful book.