Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Hardspear reviews Audible book Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Prologue.  The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below." 

In print the opening sentence of Dan Simmons’ novel Hyperion packs a potent punch.  Listening to the same sentence in the audiobook version by Audible, the same strong oomph is lent by the prose, yet now new dimensions are added.  Instantly there is a haunting quality to the very first words which is downright exhilarating.

I listened to the first few evocative paragraphs of the book five times in awe before I was able to wrench my thumb away from the rewind button.  It is not merely narrators that read this book, it is truly voice artists.  The bass/baritone voices of the male narrators and the contralto of the female narrator is like fine quality paint brushes.  They use inflection, pitch, pause, falsetto, strength, whisper and timbre to paint and colour the picture of the story so masterfully written by Dan Simmons.  I travel a lot and usually listen to my books using the text-to-speech function on my Amazon Kindle.  I have grown quite accustomed to the monotone computer generated voice on the Kindle and perhaps that is the reason why I was blown away by the quality of this audio book…

As to actual the story…  I have read all four books of the Hyperion Cantos before.  I have always wanted to re-read it.  When Honey Bee was in hospital, I opened an account with Audible so that I can download her some audio books.  As I browsed the site, I came across the Audible Fronteers audio version of the book.

Dan Simmons tells a Chaucer-esque story of seven pilgrims making their way to the strange planet Hyperion.  Unexplained forces surround their final destination, the time tombs, which makes it impossible for space- and aircraft to land close by.  So begins the long trek of the seven pilgrims to the mysterious time tombs.

By not quite mutual agreement the pilgrims decide to tell their stories as they travel.  I was disappointed at the end of each story, wanting to know more, but soon became engrossed in the next tale.  As each pilgrim tells their story, the background of the Hyperion universe unfolds and one learns the chronicle of how Old Earth was destroyed and how humans fleeing in seed ships colonized the galaxy. 

I am not going to pen down any plot spoilers here, but if you are into Sci-Fi (with a little fantasy mixed in) get the book, it is mind blowing to say the least.

…or you can wait for the Warner Bros movie.  And guess what…  Bradley Cooper was integrally involved in writing the script for the movie.  Seems there is more to him than a brilliant smile.  (do you know how hard it is to get a picture of an unsmiling Bradley Cooper…?)  I must say.  I would have liked him to be IN the movie.  I can picture him as one of the pilgrims, a priest called Lenar Hoyt.

So this is the first time that I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea, who celebrates having ADD, have written a book review.  Since Audible will only allow me to put reviews under my real name, I won’t review on their site, but on my blog instead…

The unabridged audio book, Hyperion by Dan Simmons is available from and narrated by Victor Bevine,  Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Parisea and, Jay Snyder.

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