Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Club Challenge: "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons, is one of my all time favorite sci-fi reads. When it was chosen as the most recent book for the Etsy Metal book club I was super excited to read it for the second time. I went back and forth about the piece for a long time and actually ended up reading all four books in the series again before I finally decided.

Hyperion is filled with mystery from the Prologue all the way through, and for me the most intriguing part was the juxtaposition of Christianity and the Church of Final Atonement. Both are fringe religions at the start of Hyperion and both are presented as equally preposterous, the first being outdated product of an antiquated society and the second focused around "The Lord of Pain", better known as the Shrike, and viewed by the general population as a barbarous cult that sends it's pilgrims to certain doom.

Atonement Brooch: Sterling Silver, Copper, Garnet

Hyperion recalls the tales of the seven pilgrims of the final Shrike Pilgrimage. Each tale tells of the connection the pilgrim has with the Shrike and the planet Hyperion. The Shrike is first mentioned in the Prologue as the Consul remembers "screams in the night and the hundred-faceted, ruby blood gaze of the Shrike itself". As the pilgrims tell their tales a clearer picture of the form and brutality of the Shrike slowly develops with "metal blades protruding from [it's] forehead, four wrists, oddly jointed elbows, knees, armored back and thorax." The reader is never presented with a clear explanation or solid connection between the events that have unfolded in the pilgrims lives and the motivations or intentions of this creature, this "Lord of Pain".

When Sol Weintrob takes his child, who suffers from an illness that has her aging backward, to the priests of the Church of Final Atonement and asks for guidance in having her be "made well" the bishop states that Sol is speaking of physical well being and that "[The Church of Final Atonement] is the final arbiter of spiritual salvation".
Atonement Brooch: Sterling Silver, Copper, Garnet

What is the Shrike? Should we fear it or revere it? Either way, I hope my piece does the Shrike a bit of justice. For a look at what the other Etsy Metal book club members came up with please follow the Etsy Metal Blog or Become Friends with Etsy Metal on Facebook. The book club post will be up next week! 

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