Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stories to Paint By: Hyperion to Endymion

This is the second installment in my 'Stories to Paint By' reviews of audio books.
In these reviews I will try to refrain from any spoilers, but will try to explain why I think you should, or shouldn't give them a listen.
As I mentioned in the last, I paint and work in the studio a lot.  More time than can be filled by podcasts alone, and podcasts aren't enough... I crave stories. I used to be a big reader, but I find I just don't have the time so having audio books, especially nice long epics, can give me my story fix while I am being productive.

If you've never read the Hyperion novels by Dan Simmons, I recommend them.
This is a science fiction epic in the tradition of Asimov's Foundation and Herbert's Dune.
Big sweeping stories told from several perspectives and touching on many worlds and factions.
If you like that sub-genre, you should like these books.

I didn't listen to the audio books of the first two novels, Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, since I did read those books, and though it has been many years, the story was still pretty solid in my memory.  Hyperion is set at a time when Humanity has colonized many worlds, but have not run across any significant alien life, with the possible exception of a strange semi-mythical being called The Shrike, which some worship as an avatar of death and retribution. The story focuses on a half dozen pilgrims, on their journey to Hyperion, the world of the Shrike, and in a slight parallel with The Canterbury Tales, each pilgrim tells their personal story.  There is a lot of mystery to this story as well as a lot of good mental fuel for thoughts about the nature of humanity, what is good for us as a species, and more. 

The sequel books, Endymion and Rise of Endymion were written about a decade after the first two.  I had not read these before so I got them on Audio book from Audible. The narrator, Victor Bevine, does a great job,and seeing how he's also narrating the Hyperion duo, I'm sure they are just as good.  Endymion picks up over 200 years after the Hyperion books.  Simmons did a good job following the trajectory of the events at the end of the Hyperion books.  Humans have created a true dystopian society.  If anything I enjoyed these two books even more than the first two. There are even more of the 'big questions' for consideration and possibly more action as well.  Unlike Hyperion, these two books are told from one character, Raul Endymion, as he travels with his companions, as they try to set the universe right.  If you like a balance of philosophy, action, technology, diverse cultures and questioning things like artificial intelligence and the role of religion, you've got a lot to like here.  A bit of the Foundation series, Lord of the Rings and Stranger in a Strange Land. 

Apparently Warner Brothers has the movie rights. This would be a story I'd strongly suggest reading or listening to the unabridged novels first.  There is just too much story here for one or two 140 minute movies. 
I wish they'd given the rights to HBO for a series instead.  

This series has been one of my favorite audio books I've listened to so far.  
The Hyperion books come in at about 21 hours each and Endymion is 23 and Rise of Endymion is 30 hours.
The hours flew by.  I didn't find fault with the narrator, which can be a problem over so many hours. 
If there was any fault to it, I'd say i did get tired of hearing the wordy phrase describing Aenea's hand gestures that "he had come to recognize".. etc. That is something you'd probably see but stop 'reading' after the 10th time you see it, but in audio you will hear it every time. A very small issue. 

I give this series a rating of 4.9 Paint Bottles out of 5: Well worth the time: keep on painting!

I'd highly recommend giving these books a listen or a read. 

Enjoy some music inspired by the books:


Dr. Willett's Workshop said...

Sounds interesting, I will try to get hold of it. I like audio books too, currently listenning to the "Troy Rising Series" by John Ringo, it's really good.

Michael Awdry said...

Sounds great! I have to confess I've never listened to an audio book before, I suppose I've never had the opportunity. Now that I've established a bit of a routine for painting on Saturday mornings it might be the perfect fix!

Paul of the Man Cave said...

I am doing two 3 hr commutes each week and am finding that audio books really help me stay focused during the drives. At the moment I am enjoying the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and totally loving them. I know what you mean by repeating phrases too! Thanks for the tip for my next selection of book

Mr. Lee said...

Your last recommendation was spot on so will have to see if I can find this one now..

Nice review rating too.. 4.9 bottles out of 5.. catchy ;)

S. L. Hennessy said...

I've actually been meaning to read these books for years. I know my dad has a copy...I think it's time I go kidnap them.

Kasper said...

Hi ferret,
Saw this "Halfling Team owner" and instantly thoght of how appropriate he would look in sone of your amazing BB-teams:

All the best,

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