by Dan Simmons
The Hegemony Consul is the first character we meet, in the Prologue of the story, and the third-person narrator often follows his P.O.V. during the portions of the story between the pilgrims' tales.
Because of that, you'd think we'd know a lot about him. Wrong. We don't even learn his name until near the very end of the final chapter. Admittedly, his name is Donel—but that doesn't seem so bad. It's not like Pubert or Pugsley.
Because the Consul tells his story last, we only learn bits and pieces about him in the book's first five chapters. Here's what we learn about the Consul:
- He's an atheist,
- he was a government representative on the planet Hyperion,
- he is dissatisfied with growing old,
- his son is dead.
- and he drinks. A lot.
After everything he's seen, we kind of don't blame him. He has fond memories of Cicero's, the bar on Hyperion, where he used to drown his sorrows, and he's still fond of a nice glass of Scotch (or seven) every now and then.
Oh, and he kind of dresses like a pirate, wearing "a white silk blouse which ballooned at waist and elbows, topaz collar cinch, black demi-coat [...], and a soft gold tricorne." (1.6) Arr!
Rumor Has It
From the Prologue, we learn from Meina Gladstone, Hegemony CEO, that there's a traitor among the Shrike pilgrims traveling to Hyperion. Let's just get this out of the way: it's the Consul.
That's right, this seemingly kind and gentle man, often the voice of reason to the rest of the pilgrims (even if he is a lush), also betrayed the trust of the Hegemony and just may have started an intergalactic war and ended humanity as we know it.
What would drive a man to do this? On the surface, it seems like he's doing it to avenge his grandparents, who gave their lives defending the idyllic planet of Maui-Covenant from the Hegemony. The Consul's parents died during the conflict, too. That right there is enough to drive someone to murder. But is that all there is to it?
Well, if it were, wouldn't just slapping Meina Gladstone (or peeing on her hologram) be enough to dissolve some of the Consul's anger? Instead, there's a much deeper motivation at work here. He's angry with the Hegemony. His parents and grandparents failed to defend their planet. The Hegemony took over, destroyed the natural resources of the planet, killed its dolphins, and opened it up to tourism.
And for what? Greed for money, resources, and power—you know, the forces that have driven humanity since the beginning of time. You see, the Consul isn't just mad at the Hegemony and Meina Gladstone, he's mad all of humanity. He opens the Time Tombs and releases the Shrike, humanity's greatest predator, an action that will change everything.
And he's not sorry for it. In fact, he's proud of his actions: "[I] stand […] proud, feet firmly planted on Hyperion's shifting sand, head held high, fist raised against the sky" (6.532). To the Consul, humanity has caused the death of everything beautiful. He's not just saving the world; he's saving the universe. This is eco-terrorism on a major scale.
Even though he's surely caused our inevitable death and destruction, we still see the Consul as the same level-headed leader who has been the proverbial rock during the Shrike pilgrimage. Or maybe he's just a crazy sociopath behind that impenetrable facade. Either way, we still kind of trust him, as weird as it sounds. The rest of the pilgrims do too, as evidenced by the fact that they don't kill him on the spot.
And maybe they let him live because they secretly think he was kind of right to do what he did. After all, by the time Hyperion takes place, we humans have been responsible for the destruction of Earth and the deaths of hundred of thousands of species. Including the dolphins. And everyone loves dolphins.The Consul's Timeline