Picture a world seven hundred years in the future. Humans live among robots and androids on dozens of different worlds. Interplanetary travel is as common and easy as taking a bus is today. And dead poets live on in robot form. No, this isn't Futurama (although we'd love to see Bender recite Romantic poetry): this is Hyperion, a novel by sci-fi and horror master Dan Simmons.
And actually, Hyperion has more in common with The Canterbury Tales than any sci-fi you've experienced. You read that right: The Canterbury Tales, that Middle English epic poem you may have had to read in school. The one where everyone talkéd lyke thysse. But you don't need to know another language to enjoy Hyperion (although a degree in physics might help).
Basically Hyperion is what you would get if you shot Chaucer into space. Both Canterbury and Hyperion are about a pilgrimage, a long journey of spiritual significance, and what better way to pass the time than to tell stories? But instead of the Friar, the Knight, and the Wife of Bath from Chaucer, in Hyperion we're hearing from the Priest, the Soldier, and the Hegemony Consul.
Hyperion is the first in a four-book series, including Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and Rise of Endymion. It's author, Dan Simmons, won the Hugo and Locus awards in 1990. Those are basically the Academy Awards and People's Choice Awards of science-fiction and fantasy literature, so Hyperion was a pretty big deal.
And we can see why. Even though it was published in 1989, before widespread use of cell phones and the Internet, before Hubble and Mir, Hyperion doesn't feel dated. It feels like an exciting and terrifying future, and one we're not quite sure we want to see. The only way to experience the beauty and horror of Hyperion is to read it yourself. With the lights on.
Even if you're not already a science-fiction fan, you have to admit: it's fun to imagine what the future might look like, whether it's simply thinking about tomorrow, a year from now, or seven-hundred years from now. But it can also be a bit scary: waiting for a college acceptance letter, fretting about a job interview, or wondering whether or not to super-size your order of sweet-potato fries.
With Hyperion, Dan Simmons presents a fully fleshed out vision of the future. It immerses you in a world that your great-great... we don't know how many greats, at least 23... grandchildren might live in. There have been huge advances in health care, technology, transportation, even plastic surgery. But it's also a frightening place, one where wars don't just happen between countries but between planets, where teleporting alien creatures prey on humans for fun, and where there might not even be sweet-potato fries.
Still interested in looking into the future? You don't even have to wait until farcaster portals are invented (or know what they are). All you have to do is read the book.
The Man Who Created the Shrike
Simmons's website includes fun facts about all his books, reviews of his works, and some wild foreign covers of his novels.
Two-for-One Deal (Might Not Be a Bargain)
Can you imagine trying to convert Hyperion into a movie? It could be six! There are rumors that Hyperion might be combined with its sequel, Fall of Hyperion, into one film.
Expect the Non-Expected
What is there to say about a movie that hasn't even been written yet? Check out the unofficial Hyperion Movie fansite and find out.
Roses are Red, Sci-Fi is Cool
Simmons believes that poetry and sci-fi have a lot in common. (No wonder he uses Keats as an inspiration for Hyperion.) Next Valentine's Day, don't write a cheesy poem. Write your loved one a gripping sci-fi yarn.
No Sequel for You!
Even though it would make him buckets of cash, Simmons says he'll never write a novel-length sequel or prequel to the Hyperion Cantos.
Minecrafting the Time Tombs
Safely tour the Time Tombs without fear of Merlin's sickness or the Shrike by watching this fan-made Minecraft tribute to Simmons's novels
Travel through a farcaster portal in this computer-generated simulation.
What does the Shrike Sound Like?
Can't make time to read the Cantos? Listen to the audiobooks. Here's a sample.
A Pulse-Pounding Chase
This fan set Brawne Lamia's farcasting chase scene to music… as if it weren't dramatic enough already.
Fanning the Flames
And here's the foreboding horror of the Flame Forest translated into a stunning music composition.
The Shrike looks ethereal and almost welcoming in this beautiful piece of fan art.
The Sea of Grass (Serpents Not Pictured)
This cover of the book shows the Shrike surveying the Sea of Grass as the pilgrims cross it in the wind wagon.
Of the Cruciform
This fan captures the horror of Hoyt's discovery of his cruciform. Not that Simmons's words really leave anything to the imagination.