Hyperion

I just finished reading Dan Simmons’ novel Hyperion and my only complaint is that I did not know sooner that the book was going to end with a cliffhanger, necessitating the reading of the sequel, The Fall of Hyperion (which I’ve started reading). I don’t necessarily mind an author doing that – but I do like to know beforehand to expect it!

Be that as it may, the novel is fascinating science fiction with lots of exploration of religion and religious themes in general, and interaction with the Jewish and Christian Biblical traditions in general. The novel manages to incorporate at least some mention of (and in some cases a profound exploration of) such interesting themes at the intersection of science fiction and religion as the future of historic human faiths in a distant interplanetary future, and the religious status of artificial intelligences. What’s more, the book includes a fascinating exploration of the story of Abraham being called upon to sacrifice Isaac – a storyline that I trust will continue in the sequel.

Simmons studied not far from here at Wabash College, and there is an allusion to the college in the novel.

I recommend Hyperion and will probably mention it when I teach my course on Religion and Science Fiction next semester. If I do what I’m currently contemplating and require students to read at least one novel, Hyperion will be on the list of choices.

  • Irish Presbyterian

    James, have you read Michael Flynn's 'Eifelheim'? If so, what did you think of it? I've heard good things about it and its theological themes, so have put it on my reading list for Christmas/ New Year.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10164244091093015896 thatjeffcarter

    I really liked Hyperion, but was less thrilled by Fall… maybe I just need to re-read it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    Irish Presbyterian..I'm not James….but was surprised to see someone mention Eifelheim.Eifelheim was a pretty good read and definitely has some interesting theological themes. It takes place in the 16th(?) century.Very unique story line. I can't think of anything quite like it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I haven't read it, indeed I don't recall having heard of it before, so I'm glad to have it drawn to my attention. Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00637936588223855248 Joshua

    Also on topic have you read anything by Brandon Sanderson? He's more fantasy than science fiction but he's very interested in religious issues and how they impact cultures. I highly recommend his Mistborn series.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12399706958844399216 terri

    A little off-topic, but…The Margarets by Sheri S. Teper is a good sci-fi read with some interesting semi-theological themes.While Eifelheim specifically employs Christian themes, and is more of a "quiet" or "thoughtful" sort of book, The Margarets deals with broader themes of God/gods and Humanity….plus lots of cool aliens!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11516339246202544138 John Wendt

    There seem to be four novels in the series. Happy reading!They're all in my local library, so I'll have to try them RSN.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Thanks for all the many reading suggestions!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11875276817490928873 Andrew Vogel

    I loved Hyperion. Did not enjoy book #2.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Well Andrew, I'm already reading that one so please don't tell me why you didn't like it – at least not yet! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11875276817490928873 Andrew Vogel

    Yeah.. that's why my response ended up without any content. I figured I couldn't 'really' say anything without saying too much. I really did enjoy Hyperion though. It was one of the better books I've read recently.


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