You see, Johnny's a cybrid, an Artificial Intelligence implanted into an organic body.
This is different from an android because as an AI, Johnny is part of the TechnoCore. Confused yet? Check out our "Characters" tab for info on Johnny and the TechnoCore.
Even though cybrids can't technically die, Johnny lost large quantities of data when his physical form was destroyed and he had to be rebooted. In Johnny's words, "eons of time and information. Millennia of noncommunication" (5.293).
This is apparently a lot worse than just being without Twitter for a few hours.
Brawne learns that Johnny isn't just any cybrid. He's part of the TechnoCore's personality retrieval projects, an effort to resurrect long-deceased personalities. Johnny's? He's short-lived poet John Keats, dead since 1821.
The next day, Brawne gathers clues by following Johnny around and talking to one of her sources in the tech world, a "cyberpuke" (5.395) named BB Surbringer.
When Brawne rendezvous with Johnny again, he takes her hand and shows her the datumplane—the cyber work of the TechnoCore. It's like that Aladdin song "A Whole New World" except a lot weirder.
By tracking Johnny's credit card charges, Brawne's able to find out that he was last seen at a run-down bar with a mysterious Templar and a stout guy with a ponytail.
Later that evening, thugs break into Johnny's apartment and try to kill him. He activates security to scare them away, but Brawne decides to upgrade herself from P.I. to bodyguard.
In the morning, Brawne follows Johnny and spots the stout man with a ponytail following him too.
What follows is an intense high-speed chase through dozens of farcaster portals, taking Brawne and ponytail-man through many different worlds at high-speed. This scene needs to be in the movie.
Brawne catches the guy but he explodes. You read that right: he explodes.
Of course, all the bystanders think Brawne blew him up. Why would a guy just explode? So, she has to flee. With Johnny's help, she escapes through a hidden farcaster portal and ends up on a replica of Old Earth.
Johnny, as part of the personality retrieval project, in conjunction with the life-size replica of Old Earth, is part of the TechnoCore's Ultimate Intelligence project.
As Brawne puts it, "The TechnoCore is trying to... what?... to build God?" (5.791).
Neither Johnny nor Brawne (nor us, for that matter) quite understands how, but all that confusion doesn't stop them from making love three times that night.
More hitmen attack in the morning, but Brawne and Johnny fend them off, all in just underwear. Or less. Who needs body armor?
It looks like both the TechnoCore itself and the Shrike Temple are after Johnny.
And the real John Keats only had tuberculosis to contend with.
Brawne talks to the bishop at the Shrike temple and discovers that Johnny petitioned to go on the Shrike pilgrimage. Not only that, but the ponytail dude was another cybrid assigned to be his bodyguard.
It seems that the bodyguard, being part of the TechnoCore, didn't want Johnny to have access to certain information, so he killed him, only to self-destruct when caught by Brawne a week later.
The TechnoCore is scared of Hyperion because it's outside the WorldWeb and has a primitive datasphere.
Translation: it's like operating in dial-up when you're used to blazing fast broadband.
In order to travel to Hyperion, Johnny would have had to become the cybrid.
He believes that would make him human. He wants to, because "Hyperion is the key mystery of our age—physical and poetic—and it is quite probably that [the poet John Keats]... that [Johnny the cybrid] was born, died, and was born again to explore it" (5.954).
Clues click into place that make the case personal for Brawne: her dad committed suicide while working on a project that had to do with Hyperion. Brawne believes that her dad was murdered by the TechnoCore as part of a cover up.
She brings her assumptions to Hegemony CEO Meina Gladstone, who we last saw way back in the Prologue.
But Gladstone is up to something, mentioning that the war with the Ousters on Hyperion was orchestrated to force the TechnoCore into admitting Hyperion into the web. Basically, it's intergalactic politics at its worst, with millions of lives at stake for an uncertain goal. Sound familiar?
Brawne and Johnny head over to BB's, because Johnny has a plan to figure out what the Core are up to: he's going to kill himself in the AI world and fully transition into his cybrid body. When this happens, Core defenses will drop for a split second.
It's long enough for Johnny to get the data he needs, but not long enough for BB to survive. By the time the cyber defenses come back, they're so intense that they kill BB in the real world.
Johnny discovers that there are three factions of AI within the TechnoCore: the Stables, the Volatiles, and the Ultimates.
They're all concerned about Hyperion: "The Core knows the details of the physical, human, and AI future to a margin of 98.9995 percent for a period of at least two centuries" (5.1123).
That last .0005%? That's Hyperion, an unpredictable variable. Johnny believes he's part of that unknown.
While Brawne was unconscious, Johnny had a Schrön loop implanted into her neck. It's like a data jack capable of holding infinite amounts of information.
Brawne is so not happy about being part robot now, but she deals with it.
The two of them decide to make a break for the Shrike Temple and travel to Hyperion. Johnny is killed along the way by agents of the TechnoCore.
A firefight breaks out. Brawne survives. Johnny doesn't.
Before he dies, Johnny uploads his entire personality into the Schrön loop. Now Brawne is carrying him.
She also reveals that she's carrying his baby, too: "I'm pregnant twice. Once with Johnny's child, and once with the Schrön-loop memory of what he was. I don't know if the two are meant to be linked" (5.1215).
Brawne's story concludes as she reveals that the Shrike priests now seem to regard her as a blessed saint, a (non-) virgin mother or something.