The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #2)The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hyperion was the prepatory adrenaline before the big rush. It was going up the biggest hill right before the roller coaster takes its dive; or the plane taking off right before you exit at 10kft with nothing more than your parachute.The Fall of Hyperion was the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants adrenaline rush of the event itself. Dan Simmons writes a complex, abstract tale of what happens when humanity goes to war with itself and loses control of its own creations along all sense of morality.

Somehow I suspected that the entire war, the movement of thousands, the fate of millions–perhaps billions–depended upon the actions of six people in that unmarked stretch of orange and yellow.

At the Time Tombs danger radiates in the air. One by one our pilgrims are separated and transformed. Some will find their way back to the collective, but others will be forced to face the menacing Shrike monster all alone in the dismal catacombs forged in a distant future.

In congruence with their personal endeavors, the pilgrims are being watched by societies and religious facts all over the galaxy. For some, the pilgrimage is the answer to prophesies hundreds of years old. For others, it is a risk that is going to be used for political advantage. And for more still, these six-seven individuals remain the last hope in an intergalactic war between man and itself and man and the machines they created.

“Sometimes,” said General Morpurgo, taking her hand, “dreams are all that separate us from the machines.”

But the pilgrims aren’t as alone as they believe. In the midst of their horrors, they are being watched through dreams and technology. Every move is being reported to the CEO Hedgmony, a powerful woman who controls the Web:an intergalactic system of planets held together by politics and farscape portals. And she has spys in her office…spys who seek to destroy the Web.

She loved the Web. She loved the human beings in it; for all their shallowness and selfishness and inability to change, they were the stuff of humankind. She loved the Web. She loved it enough to know that she must help in destroying it.

With war destroying planets, political interference hindering their options, and monsters hunting their every step, the pilgrims have to pull together and decide what really matters.

Mr. Simmons weaves a complicated tale that comes together beautifully. The intricate world of space intrigues and double alliances are combined with complex characters and deep motivations to create an adventure tale that spans time itself. He uses the very literary devices normally loathed by readers as inter-tale grievances to how unreal each pilgrim finds his circumstance. (view spoiler)

“Just as well,” he said. “We have one deus ex machina too many as it is.”

Paul Dure began to laugh then, a deep, sincere sound, and stopped only when he began coughing and had to take a drink of water.

“What is it?” asked the Consul.

“The deus ex machina. What we were talking about earlier. I suspect that this is precisely the reason each of us is here. Poor Lenar with his deus in the machina of the cruciform. Brawne with her resurrected poet trapped in a Schron loop, seeking the machina to release her personal deus. You, Sol, waiting for the dark deus to solve your daughter’s terrible problem. The Core, machina spawned, seeking to build their own deus.”

The Consul adjusted his sun glasses. “And you, Father?”
Dure shook his head. “I wait for the largest machina of all to produce its deus–the universe. How much of my elevation of St. Teilhard stemmed from the simple fact that I found no sign of a living Creator in the world today? Like the TechnoCore intelligences, I seek to build what I cannot find elsewhere.” (hide spoiler)]

Clever and intricate, this tale had me going well into the wee hours.