Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In Hyperion

Okay, have you read Hyperion by Dan Simmons?

Can you explain something to me?

You know when Rachel enters the Sphinx by herself, and encounters the Shrike?

How does the narrator, her father, know what happens inside the Sphinx?


tim said...

God it's been awhile, but...
Since the novel is structured around a series of narratives, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? I mean, he could be making the whole damn thing up. Or just guessing. Or, maybe, and I can't remember, it is explained in Rise of Endymion, which I recall did a really good job using something like time travel, alternate earths, and shrike-ish superpowers to wrap a whole bunch of 4 books and nigh 2 decades of writing together.

J m mcdermott said...

Doesn't it matter, though? The narrator we're given - a first person narrator - should not know the information he is presenting.

It's nitpicking in an otherwise fabulous book but I'm about to write a paper about this - which I will call "Getting Away With Narrative Murder!" - and wanted to see if I missed something obvious.

It's fascinating to find stuff like this in books, to me, where the power of the narrative voice and story makes an author, an editor, a copy-editor, and an unknown number of readers (plus, the folks who voted for the Hugoes that year) to miss something.

How can one get away with narrative crimes of magnitude like this one? (Certainly, winning a Hugo counts as "getting away with it", to me.)

Thanks for posting tim. If you remember something I missed, please let me know.