Study Guide

Hyperion Identity

By Dan Simmons

Identity

In more than sixteen thousand known human societies, none are listed where there are no individual names at all. (1.369)

The Bikura have no identifying characteristics whatsoever. They might as well be different parts of the same person. The same strange, creepy person. And they will assimilate you. (Or kill you.)

I love being a poet. It's the goddamned words I can't stand. (3.24)

A poet's relationship with words is a rocky one. This is like a painter hating color or a politician hating lies.

From a biosculptor aptly named Graumann Hacket, I obtained the hairy flanks, hooves, and goat legs of a satyr. (3.300)

Martin Silenus isn't content with his love for debauchery simply being symbolized by a satyr. He becomes one. Now that's devotion to a lifestyle.

"But Jews maintain their ethnic and religious identity in some places," [Rachel] insisted. (4.169)

Rachel doesn't understand how Jews can maintain their identity if the Promised Land is gone forever. This is a major reason behind Sol's lack of faith. Is identity tied to the land?

They studied old family photos and found that it was not too difficult to dress the way they had a decade and a half before. (4.363)

We hope they weren't wearing bell bottoms or shoulder pads a decade and a half before. Those should just stay in the closet.

My... function... is to observe and react to human beings. In a sense, I was human once myself (5.346)

Johnny once felt human, but the more he realizes how much of his identity was pre-programmed, the less sure of his identity he is. Can he be his own robot... er, man... er, cybrid?

By this time, the melanin pill I'd swallowed had worked and I was a young black woman. (5.387)

Brawne's ability to change her skin tone with a pill marks the beginning of the end of the tanning-bed industry. Jersey Shore 2819's slogan changes from Gym Tan Laundry to Pill Pill Laundry, because there will probably be a fitness pill too, but there will always be laundry. (On a more serious note, maybe it also marks the end of racism.)

Having a personality based upon a retrieval template no more makes me Keats than having the name Lamia makes you a monster (5.470)

Johnny reminds us of another famous writer saying "What's in a name?" Sure, life would be simpler if our last names defined us, but there's something to be said for free will. A lot to be said for it, we think.

I remember what the designers thought that [Keats] felt (5.764)

It's easy to forget that Johnny was programmed not by humans, but by the TechnoCore. And the TechnoCore seems to know everything, even what long-dead poets felt years before computers were invented.

Surely you're not Merin Aspic (6.462)

To which the Consul responds, "No, I'm his grandson. And don't call me Shirley."