The Hyperion Cantos form a tetralogy of science fiction novels by Dan Simmons.
The Cantos is an epic science fiction series of novels. Set in the far future, and focusing more on plot and story development than technical detail, it falls into the soft science fiction category, and could be described as space opera.
Of the four novels, Hyperion received the Hugo Award for best novel in 1990 and The Fall of Hyperion was nominated for the Nebula Award for best novel in 1990. Moreover, three of the novels received the Locus Award for best science fiction novel: Hyperion (1990), The Fall of Hyperion (1991) and The Rise of Endymion (1998). The author has recently stated that a movie is in the works. From the author's website: "Producer Graham King has set up Dan Simmons' award-winning science fiction book series "Hyperion Cantos" at Warner Bros., with Trevor Sands on board to adapt the first two books as one feature. King is producing via his GK Films banner.
The series also includes three short stories:
The Hyperion universe originated when Simmons was an elementary school teacher, as an extended tale he told at intervals to his young students; this is recorded in "The Death of the Centaur
," and its introduction. It then inspired his short story "Remembering Siri," which eventually became the nucleus around which Hyperion and the Fall of Hyperion formed. After the quartet was published came the short story Orphans of the Helix
. "Orphans" is currently the final work in the Cantos, both chronologically and internally.
It was formerly rumoured that Dan Simmons originally submitted "Hyperion" and "The Fall of Hyperion" to the publisher as a single large manuscript, but due to its extreme length, it was decided to split the story in half. This rumor most likely started because the story in Hyperion ends rather abruptly, with many mysteries left unresolved; The Fall of Hyperion answers some of those questions and provides an ending.
However, in a post on his Web forum, Dan Simmons has disputed this version of events, saying that Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion were not submitted as one manuscript, but that Hyperion was submitted first and Fall of Hyperion was written later. The second two novels take place three hundred years later in the chronology of the story, and contain an almost entirely-new cast of characters, although the events of the earlier novels provide important background.
Much of the appeal of the series stems from its extensive use of references and allusions
from a wide array of thinkers such as Teilhard de Chardin
, John Muir
, Norbert Wiener
, and to the poetry
of John Keats
, a famous English Romantic
poet of the 19th century, and the monk Ummon
; a large number of technological elements are acknowledged by Simmons to be inspired by elements of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World
The Hyperion series has many echoes of Jack Vance, explicitly acknowledged in one of the later books.
The title of the first novel, "Hyperion," is taken from one of Keats's poems, the unfinished epic Hyperion. Similarly, the title of the third novel is from Keats' poem Endymion. Quotes from actual Keats poems and the fictional Cantos of Martin Silenus are interspersed throughout the novels. Simmons goes so far as to have two artificial reincarnations of John Keats ("cybrids") play a major role in the series.
The planet Hyperion
Hyperion is the name of a planet
where much of the action in the series takes place. It is described as having one-fifth less gravity
than Earth standard
. Hyperion has a number of peculiar indigenous flora and fauna, notably 'Tesla Trees' which are essentially large electricity-spewing trees. It is also a "labyrinthine" planet, which means that it is home to ancient subterranean labyrinths
of unknown purpose.
Most importantly, however, Hyperion is the location of the Time Tombs, large artifacts surrounded by "anti-entropic" fields that allow them to move backward through time. The region where the Tombs are located is also the home of the Shrike, a menacing being that features prominently in the series.
Hyperion is tectonically dead, and thus there is no continental drift and no significant electromagnetic field (which implies that a compass does not work). The skies on Hyperion are often described as 'lapis', and this characteristic also helps distinguish Hyperion from many other similar worlds.
Hyperion is somewhere in the lengthy process of being approved for inclusion into the Worldweb -- that is, the planets of the Hegemony of Man that are linked by the farcaster network. As yet unaccepted into the farcaster Worldweb, Hyperion is months of interstellar travel time and years of real time from the nearest Web Planets.
has the structure of a frame story
, similar to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
. The story weaves the interlocking tales of a diverse group of travelers sent on a pilgrimage to the Time Tombs on Hyperion. The travelers have been sent by the Shrike Church and the Hegemony (the government of the human star systems) to make a request of the Shrike. As they progress in their journey, each of the pilgrims tells their tale.
- The Shrike is the monster and anti-hero of the novel. It is known for impaling people on a massive tree made of metal, whose branches are massive thorns. It is named after the "Shrike" bird which impales insects and small animals on the thorns of a tree.
- It is the object of a cult, the Church of the Final Atonement, and guards the Tombs of Time. The church sends prime-number pilgrims to the Time Tombs; all but one are killed and the remaining pilgrim gets his request granted. The Shrike is capable of manipulating time. This, along with its martial art skills backed up with four arms and a spiked armoured body, makes it an essentially unbeatable opponent, capable of slaughtering entire corps with impunity.
- The Shrike has been built by the machine god in the distant future, for the purpose of creating as much suffering as possible, in order to lure in and force a confrontation with the human god from the future (this is not revealed until The Fall of Hyperion). For this purpose, the Shrike impales its victims on the Tree of Pain, a torture device which keeps its victims alive artificially.
- The Shrike is not always a foe. Occasionally, in Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, it aids the protagonists; in the sequels, Endymion and Rise of Endymion, the Shrike appears consistently as a somewhat benevolent character.
- The Consul is the former planetary governor of Hyperion. He is for much of the first novel enigmatic, observing and recording the stories of the other Shrike Pilgrims but reluctant to record his own. He is one of the few people in the Hegemony to own his own private starship.
- Lenar Hoyt is a Roman Catholic priest in his early 30s, in a universe where Catholicism has shrunk to a shadow of its former self, claiming only a few thousand followers.
- Fedmahn Kassad (~ 40 years old) is a colonel in the Hegemony of Man's FORCE military, of Palestinian descent. Kassad was determined to meet and destroy both the Shrike, and its keeper, Moneta, on Hyperion. He eventually challenges the Shrike to personal combat, nearly succeeds, and in his death inspires Moneta's people (humanity, millennia in the future). The outcome of this inspiration is not described by the author. It is later revealed that Kassad himself was part of the animating spirit of the Shrike, a fact made possible by the passage of the Time Tombs backwards in time.
- Brawne Lamia is a private detective. Her name likely derives from a combination of Fanny Brawne, the unrequited love of John Keats, and the eponymous creature of his Lamia and Other Poems. Brawne is the daughter of Senator Byron Lamia, once a friend of CEO Meina Gladstone's, who apparently committed suicide when Brawne was a child.
- Het Masteen is the most mysterious of all seven pilgrims. He is a Templar — a nature priest of sorts — who captains the Treeship Yggdrasill that brings the pilgrims to Hyperion.
- Treeships are living trees that are propelled by ergs (an alien being that emits force fields) through space. The ergs also generate the containment fields around the tree that keep its atmosphere intact. There are only a small number of Treeships in existence - in Hyperion, the Consul remarks that the Yggdrasill is one of only five.
- Martin Silenus is a foul-mouthed poet. Born on Earth before its destruction, he is incredibly old. Like Keats, he is working on an unfinished epic poem.
- Silenus is referred to a number of times throughout the Cantos as a satyr, and his name probably derives from that of the Sophoclean character Silenus.
- Sol Weintraub is a Jewish scholar. His daughter was afflicted with an illness dubbed the "Merlin Sickness" that caused her to age backwards; she gets younger as time progresses, progressively forgetting a day of her past every night she sleeps.
The Fall of Hyperion
This book concludes the story begun in Hyperion
. It abandons the frame structure of the first novel, instead using a more conventional chronological narrative (although several jumps in time take place).
- All characters from Hyperion are also in this book.
- The Keats Cybrid is a cybrid recreation of the poet John Keats. His body is biologically identical to the original poet, and has implanted memories retrieved from Keats' poetry and biography. His mind is connected with some Artificial Intelligence. He has some mysterious connection to the Seven Pilgrims.
- Ummon is an artificial intelligence of some stature (according to the Keats cybrid: "Ummon is a great teacher, researcher, philosopher, and leader in the Core.") who has taken on the persona of a Buddhist monk. He acts as a mentor, in a fashion, to Keats, instructing him through the use of koans. Historically, Ummon Bun'en was a Zen master during the golden age of Zen in T'ang Dynasty China (862/4-949 AD) and indeed, some of the koans that Ummon uses to instruct Lamia and Keats are drawn from the historical Ummon, such as this one :
- A less enlightened personage once asked Ummon
- What is the God-nature/Buddha/Central Truth
- Ummon answered him
- A dried shit-stick
The story commences 272 years after the events in the previous novel. Few main characters from the first two books are present in the later two, and those that do appear are secondary characters (these include Martin Silenus, Colonel Kassad, and Het Masteen). The book Endymion
features a main character of Raul Endymion, who is an ex-soldier who became a guide for hunters. When a grossly unfair trial yields his (first) death sentence, he is rescued by Martin Silenus and asked to perform a series of rather extraordinarily difficult tasks. The main task is to rescue and protect Aenea (whose name may derive from Aeneas
), a messiah
coming from the distant past via time travel
and the daughter of Brawne Lamia (a character from the two previous works). Raul Endymion saves her and escapes, but is pursued by the warped and changed Church's troops. The Catholic church has, in the storyline of the novel, been taken over by various power-hungry people using Lenar Hoyt (a character from the first two books) as a figurehead. The Church has become a dominant force in the human universe in this novel, and wants to protect itself from Aenea. They view Aenea (correctly) as a potential threat to their power. The group of M. Aenea, M. Endymion, and A. Bettik (an android
) evades the Church's forces on several worlds, ending the story on Earth
- Aenea is Brawne Lamia's daughter, sent forward in time. She is a messianic figure.
- Raul Endymion is an ex-soldier/hunter, born and raised on Hyperion, who accompanies Aenea on her journey.
- A. Bettik is an android who accompanies Raul and Aenea; formerly owned by Martin Silenus.
- Federico DeSoya is a captain of the church Pax who is commanded to capture Aenea.
- Rhadamanth Nemes is a high-tech creation of the Core, sent to kill Aenea and the Shrike. A short interlude from Nemes' point of view suggests that it was she who killed the Consul in the plot-time between the end of 'The Fall of Hyperion' and the beginning of 'Endymion'.
Several of the characters from the first two books appear in this one despite the fact that it occurs 272 years later. However, with the exception of the Shrike and Lenar Hoyt, they are minor characters.
- Lenar Hoyt is the perpetual pope of the reinvigorated Roman Catholic church. After returning with the Hyperion cruciform parasite, he regenerates every time he dies. Hoyt is apparently corrupted by the cruciform, TechnoCore, and his own position.
- Paul Dure's cruciform shares its host with Lenar Hoyt's cruciform and thus causes his resurrection every time the pope dies. Paul Dure is then quickly killed by the church functionaries to be reborn as Lenar Hoyt. Paul Dure's earlier incarnations are regarded as those of an antipope.
- The Shrike appears to be a more benevolent figure than the Hyperion series, in this book and the next.
The Rise of Endymion
This final novel in the series finishes the story begun in Endymion
. It begins in the new Vatican City, with the announcement of the death of the pope, Lenar Hoyt. It is revealed that Hoyt, who is of course resurrected using the cruciform every "born again" Christian wears, also still carries Father Paul Durè's cruciform, and every time Hoyt dies, Durè is killed in a sort of exorcismic ritual. Hoyt is then reborn, and when elected Pope again, takes a new Papal name: in this case, Urban XVI. Urban announces a new Crusade upon his conception as Pope, and with the development of the new "Archangel"-class starships, sends his fleets out to make war on the Ousters, still hiding along the edges of human-populated space.
We then shift to Raul Endymion and Aenea, still living on Earth (at Taliesin West
) and learning architecture from the "Old Architect" (a cybrid Frank Lloyd Wright
). Aenea reveals to Raul that he has to leave and travel via Farcaster portal along the River Tethys, but she will meet him at the end of his journey. Upon reaching the end of his perilous trip, Raul finds the starship they had abandoned in the previous book. The ship informs Raul that Aenea had programmed him to take him to T'ien Shan, a planet that Raul knows nothing about. He finds out, to his dismay, that the time it will take to get there will create a 5-year time debt, and when he arrives, Aenea will be 21.
During their time on Tien Shan, Raul and Aenea's relationship shifts from protector and friend to lover and teacher, as Raul becomes a prominent member of Aenea's "congregation." Aenea takes on a nearly messianic persona at this point, preaching to her followers gathered on T'ien Shan about "the Void which Binds" and "the music of the spheres", the secrets of which are revealed later in the story. Unfortunately, the Pax discovers them, and Raul and Aenea, along with their close friends are forced to flee, taking refuge with the Ousters on the edge of civilized space. There, Raul learns just what secret it is Aenea carries that makes the Pax so afraid of her, and their journey comes to a dramatic climax in the Vatican, when they confront the Pope, and seemingly meet their respective destinies. As foreshadowed numerous times, the novel does not, in fact, end with Aenea dead - nor with Raul imprisoned within the Schroedinger egg - these events are not the final state of affairs in the novel, which ends on a rather bright note.
- The major characters are the same as those in Endymion, with a couple of Rhadamanth Nemes' clones added to help kill the Shrike.
Planets of the Hyperion Cantos
There are over 200 worlds in the Hegemony of Man; the following planets appear or are specifically mentioned in the Hyperion Cantos
- Armaghast — A desert planet, often a site for exiles or prisoners, where ruins of an ancient alien civilization have been found. One of nine labyrinthine planets.
- Asquith — A planet populated by exiles from Great Britain. The homeland of 'Sad King Billy' before his artists' exodus to Hyperion to avoid the Glennon-Height rebellion.
- Barnard's World — One of the first extra-solar worlds to be colonized, features large stretches of farmland and well-known post-secondary education institutions. Rachel Weintraub is a native of this world, and Sol Weintraub taught at one of the colleges there.
- Deneb Drei
- Deneb Vier
- Esperance — The second Keats cybrid lived on this world for a time.
- Earth 2 — Very little is told about this planet in the series.
- Freude - A bustling planet known for the colourful dress of its inhabitants.
- Fuji — A small planet with tropical climate. The planet's inhabitants are of Asian origin (presumably Japanese). The main pets on this planet are sharks (that are very common there due to the seedships of the Hegira).
- Garden — A forest world close to Hyperion.
- God's Grove — A forest planet, home of the Templars, whose worship of nature seeks to mold life to preserve and spread it throughout the galaxy.
- Heaven's Gate — Orbiting the star Alpha Lyrae or Vega, a toxic planet that is difficult to keep terraformed, but rich in mineral resources; it serves as a temporary (and highly unpleasant, but nevertheless important) home for Martin Silenus after he is forced to leave Old Earth. Eventually terraformed into beauty and comfort under the Hegemony, its capital of Mudflat with its famous Prommenade was a popular tourist destination. Leveled by TechnoCore cybrids posing as Ousters at the time of the Fall, it quickly returned to its original uninhabitability.
- Hebron — A primarily Jewish desert planet. The use of farcaster portals on Hebron is limited to the capital city, New Jerusalem. Besides the capital city, the people of Hebron live in kibbutzim.
- Hyperion — An Outback world that nonetheless played a pivotal role in galactic affairs. One of nine labyrinthine planets, home of the Time Tombs and the mysterious Shrike.
- Ixion - A jungle world, where Aenea teaches natives in the western hemisphere, the Pax controls only the eastern hemisphere.
- Lusus — A high-gravity industrial world where people live in hives. Once represented in the Hegemony Senate by Byron Lamia, his daughter, detective Brawne Lamia, is a native of the world.
- Madhya — Formerly a Hindu colony, it is the world chosen for the location of the New Vatican by Pax loyalists after the fall of the Pax. Madhya in Hindi means Centre.
- MadredeDios — A desert planet apparently populated by colonists from Latin America. Homeworld of Father Captain Federico de Soya.
- Mare Infinitus — A planet covered by water -- Martin Silenus had a guest bathroom on this planet consisting of a small raft with a toilet, no walls, and no ceiling.
- Mars — One of many planets terraformed by the Hegemony of Man. Home to Palestinians after they flee Earth. During the Human Hegemony, the headquarters of FORCE, the military arm of government.
- Maui-Covenant — A water planet originally populated with the mix of conservationists and Pacific Islanders. Rich biosphere includes living mobile islands, among other things. Native wildlife including Earth dolphins and 'motile' isles were decimated in the years following its introduction into the WorldWeb.
- Moon — Listed here although not really a Planet
- New Earth — Apparently a decent substitute for Old Earth, but it does not get much of a spotlight in the series.
- New Mekka
- NGCes 2629-4BIV - The only planet in NGC 2629 that can support life. Human explorers, tourists, and scientists were stranded there after the Fall and have survived as indigenies over the centuries following the Fall. The population remains at a few thousand, as the humans remaining probably have very limited access to modern technology and compete with the planet's population of Old Earth re-seeded and native predators.
- Nevermore - A primarily non-Christian, low tech world in a system with a high number of comets. Only a small part of this planet is under Pax control. The planet is covered with forests and its inhabitants live in stone buildings.
- Nordholm - A world that seems to be influenced by Scandinavian origins.
- Old Earth — The original Earth, believed to have been destroyed by The Big Mistake of '08 (in which a miniature black hole was dropped into it), but later shown to have been spirited away by 'other' beings of godlike abilities and consciousness.
- Orbital Forests — Not actually planets, but orbiting forests (having atmospheres kept in by containment fields) created by the Ousters, who live in them (along with other types of space colonies); eventually these grow into Dyson trees, a biological variant of Dyson Spheres.
- Pacem — A planet serving as the base of the Catholic Church; home of Lenar Hoyt. The Vatican and parts of the city of Rome were relocated there after The Big Mistake which was thought to be destroying Old Earth.
- Parvati — A planet populated by reformed Hindus. Colonized from Madhya.
- Patawpha — Meina Gladstone, the CEO of the Human Hegemony, hailed from the backwater regions of this swampy world.
- Qom-Riyadh — A primarily Muslim planet.
- Renaissance Minor — A primarily agricultural world in the same star system as Renaissance Vector.
- Renaissance Vector - A primarily urban world, with major centres named after giants of the Italian Renaissance. Known for its advanced medical facilities, archives and research institutions. An ecumenopolis, the planet fared well after the Fall through its relationship with Renaissance Minor.
- Sibiatu's Bitterness also known as Inevitable Grace- Orbiting the star Lacaille 9352, an environmentally marginal planet with a thin methane-ammonia atmosphere.
- Sol Draconi Septem — A somewhat terraformed planet almost completely covered by a glacier atmosphere; it is difficult to keep even a small part of this planet terraformed, and it has even higher gravity than Lusus. Survivors of the Fall exist in this planet as nomadic tribals.
- Svoboda - A tidally-locked and barely habitable planet 3 light-years from the planet Pacem, Svoboda is one of the nine Labyrinthine worlds.
- Tau Ceti Center (TC²) — Orbiting the star Tau Ceti, the administrative capital of the Hegemony of Man or Hegemony. As an ecumenopolis, it was the most densely populated planet under the Hegemony of Man, and home to Hegemony Senate, Government House, and the famous Deer Park.
- T'ien Shan — A planet covered by mountains, with low-lying poisonous gases confining humans to tall mountains; populated by reformed Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Norse, and others, although the action of the story takes place in Buddhist-controlled territory.
- Vitus-Gray-Balianus B — A planet inhabited by people of the Amoiete Spectrum Helix, a religion that allows non-traditional marriages, including those having more than two people; they are organized on the basis of colors, somewhat like the Druzes do.
- Whirl - The forgotten sibling of Barnard's World. A gas giant that was formerly occupied by the Zeplin, a species of semi-intelligent, large, buoyant lifeforms which occupy the thermals between layers of gas.
Technology in the Hegemony and Pax eras
After the Fall of the Hegemony there was a new Dark Age through humanity's settled worlds as riots filled the hundreds of Hegemony worlds and trade, communication and travel between planets became subject to the time debt (often of months or years) accrued by using Hawking Drives. When the Pax rose to power during this time the technology they used was not much improved on Hegemony times, and the standard of medical treatment actually declined. This was due to the ability of the Cruciforms to resurrect their hosts and also due to the perceived absence of the TechnoCore
during this time; they had been responsible for giving many technologies to humanity.
The list below will assume the technologies below were available during the 28th Century as well as the 31st unless otherwise stated.Hawking Drive: The Hawking Drive was given to humanity before the Big Mistake, allowing the faster than light travel which led to the Hegira. It was not named after Stephen Hawking, rather the species of bird found on old Earth. Aenea later revealed that the TechnoCore created FTL drive by utilising the Void Which Binds.Farcaster: Again the Farcaster network was given to humanity by the TechnoCore and again it was another use of the Void Which Binds that allowed this instantaneous travel between worlds.Spacecraft: In the Hegemony Era there were a handful of privately owned spacecraft, such as the one owned by the Consul. The remainder were owned by FORCE. Merchant Craft were virtually unheard of because the Farcaster network negated the need for spacecraft except for trade between the Outback and Protectorate worlds. By the time of the Pax spaceships were owned either by the Pax Military Fleet or the Pax Mercantilus.Diskeys: Although not discussed in detail, diskeys appear to be microcomputers: capable of connecting an individual to the datasphere and allowing information to be stored and transferred. Possibly derived from DSKY, which is pronounced the same way.EMVs: Presumably standing for Electro-Magnetic Vehicles, EMVs are variable-sized transports which use a planets magnetic field to fly above the surface. Levitation barges are a type of EMV. Hawking mats are a type of EMV too.Autosurgeon: The Autosurgeon is a (non-sentient) AI assisted system capable of diagnosing and treating illness and injury. Although recovery was not guaranteed, it was rare that a death occurred while using an Autosurgeon. Aboard spaceships the Autosurgeon was also known as a Doc-in-the-box.Resurrection Creche: Exclusive to the faster Gideon Drive Pax spaceships, whose near-instantaneous travel killed its passengers, the resurrection creche can regenerate someone carrying a cruciform from their remains (though not always); this is integrated into the Pax Christian church original concept of resurrection. Non-Pax aligned humans are denied this capability.Gideon Drive: A Core-provided starship drive that allows near-instantaneous travel between any two points in human-occupied space. The drive's use kills any human on board a Gideon-propelled starship; thus, the technology is only of use with remote probes or when used in conjunction with the Pax's resurrection technology.
- Plasma bombs and grenades: A type of weapon available to military forces (and civilians, through the black market). Plasma weapons are described as being very powerful and destructive; plasma weapons like hellwhips (man-portable lasers) also shed a great deal of radiation. During the Ouster invasion of Hyperion, plasma bombs are used and are seen as brilliant semispherical explosions of light. In the riots on Hyperion, shortly before the arrival of the Consul and the other pilgrims, several plasma grenades were used on the Shrike church, reducing the massive stone-and-steel structure to a mass of smouldering rubble and slag.
- Bhees: Beams of High Energy Electrons, these are beams of focused and accelerated electrons with considerable penetrating power.
- Deathwands: Weapons given to humanity by the AI TechnoCore. These are the ultimate "clean" weapon: capable of killing people while leaving property intact. Deathwands burn out all the synapses in a human brain, causing almost instantaneous death; thus they would kill humans but not damage physical property (compare neutron bomb). These weapons were normally handheld, though with a wide dispersal beam. Just before the Fall of the Hegemony (in The Fall of Hyperion), the TechnoCore introduced a large scale deathwand variant which it claimed would kill the entire population of a planet, as well as any other world in a 1.5 light year radius of its point of detonation. Its introduction was apparently pushed by the Volatile and Ultimate factions of the TechnoCore; this origin as well as other indirect evidence suggests that the TechnoCore was lying about the lethal radius, and that the radius was either indefinite (as the Hegemony's scientists had concluded and is supported by Aenea's contention in the Endymion duology that a deathwand operated by means of disturbances in the Void-Which-Binds) or vastly greater than that of the Hegemony's spatial expanse.
- Flechette guns and rifles: Weapons which shoot thousands of small steel darts. These weapons have a wide dispersal and are capable of ripping practically anything in their path to shreds.
- Stunners: Small weapons which are used to subdue rather than injure. Neural stunners cause paralysis by affecting the nervous system. A person hit by a stun beam is incapable of even blinking.
- Danish progressive power metal band Manticora released a concept album called "Hyperion" based on the first book.
- The three first albums from Belgium tribal industrial band This Morn' Omina are called the 'Hegira Trilogy'.
- In the anime The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Nagato Yuki lends Kyon a copy of 'Hyperion'.