Hyperion Cantos

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The Hyperion Cantos is a series of science fiction novels by Dan Simmons. The title was originally used for the collection of the first pair of books in the series, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion , [1] [2] and later came to refer to the overall storyline, including Endymion , The Rise of Endymion , and a number of short stories. [3] [4] More narrowly, inside the fictional storyline, after the first volume, the Hyperion Cantos is an epic poem written by the character Martin Silenus covering in verse form the events of the first book. [5]


Of the four novels, Hyperion received the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1990; [6] The Fall of Hyperion won the Locus and British Science Fiction Association Awards in 1991; [7] and The Rise of Endymion received the Locus Award in 1998. [8] All four novels were also nominated for various science fiction awards.



First published in 1989, Hyperion has the structure of a frame story, similar to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron . 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 Church of the Final Atonement, alternately known as 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 Fall of Hyperion

This book concludes the story begun in Hyperion. It abandons the storytelling frame structure of the first novel, and is instead presented primarily as a series of dreams by John Keats.


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. The main character is Raul Endymion, an ex-soldier who receives a death sentence after an unfair trial. 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, a messiah coming from the distant past via time travel. The Catholic Church has become a dominant force in the human universe and views Aenea as a potential threat to their power. The group of Aenea, Endymion, and A. Bettik (an android) evades the Church's forces on several worlds, ending the story on Earth.

The Rise of Endymion

This final novel in the series finishes the story begun in Endymion, expanding on the themes in Endymion, as Raul and Aenea battle the Church and meet their respective destinies.

Short stories

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.

The original Hyperion Cantos has been described as a novel published in two volumes, published separately at first for reasons of length. [3] [9] In his introduction to "Orphans of the Helix", Simmons elaborates:

Some readers may know that I've written four novels set in the "Hyperion Universe"Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion. A perceptive subset of those readers—perhaps the majority—know that this so-called epic actually consists of two long and mutually dependent tales, the two Hyperion stories combined and the two Endymion stories combined, broken into four books because of the realities of publishing. [10]


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, the famous 19th-century English Romantic poet, Norse Mythology, 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 .[ citation needed ]

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": artificial intelligences in human bodies) play a major role in the series.

The song Raspberry Jam Delta-v of Joe Satriani's album Crystal Planet is a tribute to Endymion: "The three Pax torchships drop from relativistic velocities under more than six hundred gravities of deceleration – what spacefarers for centuries have called "raspberry jam delta-v" – meaning, of course, that if the internal containment fields were to fail for a microsecond, the crews would be little more than a layer of raspberry jam on the deckplates."


Much of the action in the series takes place on the planet Hyperion. 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, Hyperion is the location of the Time Tombs, large artifacts surrounded by "anti-entropic" fields that allow them to move backward through time. In the fictional universe of the Hyperion Cantos, the Hegemony of Man encompasses over 200 planets.

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. Faster than light communications technology, Fatlines are said to operate through tachyon bursts. However, in later books it is revealed that they operate through the Void Which Binds. The Hawking Drive was developed by the Human scientists, allowing the faster than light travel which led to the Hegira (from the Arabic word هجرةHijra, meaning 'migration'). The Gideon drive, a Core-provided starship drive, allows for 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. The resurrection creche can regenerate someone carrying a cruciform from their remains. Treeships are living trees that are propelled by ergs (spider-like solid-state alien being that emits force fields) through space.

The Shrike

The region of the Tombs is also the home of the Shrike, a menacing half-mechanical, half-organic four-armed creature that features prominently in the series. [11] It appears in all four Hyperion Cantos books and is an enigma in the initial two; its purpose is not revealed until the second book, but even then left somewhat nebulous. The Shrike appears to act both autonomously and as a servant of some unknown force or entity. In the first two Hyperion books, it exists solely in the area around the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. Its portrayal is changed significantly in the last two books, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion . In these novels, the Shrike appears effectively unfettered and protects the heroine Aenea against assassins of the opposing TechnoCore.

Surrounded in mystery, the object of fear, hatred, and even worship by members of the Church of the Final Atonement (the Shrike Cult), the Shrike's origins are described as uncertain. It is portrayed as composed of razorwire, thorns, blades, and cutting edges, having fingers like scalpels and long, curved toe blades. It has the ability to control the flow of time, and may thus appear to travel infinitely fast. The Shrike may kill victims in a flash or it may transport them to an eternity of impalement upon an enormous artificial 'Tree of Thorns,' or 'Tree of Pain' in Hyperion's distant future. The Tree of Thorns is described as an unimaginably large, metallic tree, alive with the agonized writhing of countless human victims of all ages and races. [12] It is also hinted in the second book that the Tree of Thorns is actually a simulation generated by a mystical interface which connects to human brains via a strong and pulsing (as if it were alive) cord. The name Shrike is undoubtedly a reference to the Loggerhead Shrike, a small fierce bird that impales its victims on thorns, spines, or twigs. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Dan Simmons is an American science fiction and horror writer. He is the author of the Hyperion Cantos and the Ilium/Olympos cycles, among other works which span the science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres, sometimes within a single novel. Simmons's genre-intermingling Song of Kali (1985) won the World Fantasy Award. He also writes mysteries and thrillers, some of which feature the continuing character Joe Kurtz.

Hyperion may refer to:

Shrike Family of birds

Shrikes are carnivorous passerine birds of the family Laniidae. The family is composed of 33 species in four genera.

Endymion primarily refers to:

<i>Ilium</i> (novel)

Ilium is a science fiction novel by American writer Dan Simmons, the first part of the Ilium/Olympos cycle, concerning the re-creation of the events in the Iliad on an alternate Earth and Mars. These events are set in motion by beings who have taken on the roles of the Greek gods. Like Simmons' earlier series, the Hyperion Cantos, the novel is a form of "literary science fiction" which relies heavily on intertextuality, in this case with Homer and Shakespeare, as well as periodic references to Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu and Vladimir Nabokov's novel Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle. In July 2004, Ilium received a Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of 2004.

<i>The Fall of Hyperion</i> (novel)

The Fall of Hyperion is the second novel in the Hyperion Cantos, a science fiction series by American author Dan Simmons. The novel, written in 1990, won both the 1991 British Science Fiction and Locus Awards. It was also nominated for the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award.

Thomas S. Ray

Thomas S. Ray is an ecologist who created and developed the Tierra project, a computer simulation of artificial life.

<i>Hyperion</i> (Simmons novel) 1989 novel by Dan Simmons

Hyperion is a Hugo Award-winning 1989 science fiction novel by American writer Dan Simmons. It is the first book of his Hyperion Cantos. The plot of the novel features multiple time-lines and characters. It follows a similar structure to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The next book in the series was The Fall of Hyperion, published in 1990.

Dyson tree Hypothetical genetically-engineered plant capable of growing inside a comet

A Dyson tree is a hypothetical genetically engineered plant capable of growing inside a comet, suggested by the physicist Freeman Dyson. Plants may be able to produce a breathable atmosphere within the hollow spaces of the comet, utilising solar energy for photosynthesis and cometary materials for nutrients, thus providing self-sustaining habitats for humanity in the outer solar system analogous to a greenhouse in space or a shell grown by a mollusc.

Telzey Amberdon

Telzey Amberdon is a fictional character in a series of science fiction short stories and two short novels by American writer James H. Schmitz, taking place in his "Federation of the Hub" fictional universe, presumably in the mid-4th millennium. She is introduced as a fifteen-year-old genius, a first-year law student, living on the human-settled planet Orado. Through interaction with alien psychic animals on a resort planet, she discovers that she has psychic powers. Upon her return to her home planet, her abilities are recognized by a mechanism at the spaceport reentry gate and she is effectively made an agent of the Psychology Service. A major pattern in the stories is the development of her powers. Eventually she teams up with the redheaded secret agent Trigger Argee. The series ends inconclusively; in the last story, a villain makes a duplicate of her, who gains a separate identity and name.

The Catteni Series is a tetralogy of science fiction novels by American writer Anne McCaffrey. In this universe, humans are slaves of aliens, the humanoid Catteni. Woven through all four of the books are details of the relationship between Kristin Bjornsen, a former slave, and Zainal, a renegade Catteni.

A farcaster is an instantaneous transportation device in the fictional Hyperion universe. Farcasters allow two points separated by a vast distance to be brought together at a Farcaster Portal. The Farcaster network connects hundreds of planets of the Hegemony of Man into their WorldWeb. The Farcaster network allowed transport between connected worlds without any time discrepancy, unlike Hawking drive transport provided by spaceships of the Hegemony era. The Farcaster was developed by the Artificial Intelligences (AIs) of the TechnoCore and given to humanity sometime after the Hegira.

<i>Far Horizons</i>

Far Horizons: All New Tales from the Greatest Worlds of Science Fiction is an anthology of original science fiction stories edited by Robert Silverberg, first published in hardcover by Avon Eos in May 1999, with a book club edition following from Avon and the Science Fiction Book Club in July of the same year. Paperback and trade paperback editions were issued by Eos/HarperCollins in May 2000 and December 2005, respectively, and an ebook edition by HarperCollins e-books in March 2009. The first British edition was issued in hardcover and trade paperback by Orbit/Little Brown in June 1999, with a paperback edition following from Orbit in July 2000. The book has also been translated into Spanish.

"Orphans of the Helix" is a 46-page science fiction short story by American writer Dan Simmons, set in his Hyperion Cantos fictional universe. It was first published in the anthology Far Horizons in 1999.

Vega in fiction

The planetary systems of stars other than the Sun and its solar system are a staple element in much science fiction. Vega is a blue-white star in the constellation Lyra that is frequently featured in works of science fiction. Like its bright cousins Sirius, Deneb, and Altair, it is classified as a star of spectral type A. Roughly two and a half times the size of the sun, it is 40 times as luminous and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most radiant stars in the galactic neighborhood. Its luminosity joins with its relative proximity to the Earth—it is only 25 light-years away—to make it the fifth-brightest star in the night sky. Vega is rendered decidedly oblate by its rapid rate of rotation, and since it is pole-on to the sun, it appears significantly larger to earthbound observers than it actually is. For this and a variety of other reasons Vega has been extensively studied by astronomers, leading it to be termed "arguably the next most important star in the sky after the sun."

<i>Prayers to Broken Stones</i>

Prayers to Broken Stones is a short story anthology by American author Dan Simmons. It includes 13 of his earlier works, along with an introduction by Harlan Ellison in which the latter relates how he "discovered" Dan Simmons at the Colorado Mountain College's "Writers' Conference in the Rockies" in 1981. The title is a borrowed line from T. S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men".

Pantropy is a hypothetical process of space colonization in which rather than terraforming other planets or building space habitats suitable for human habitation, humans are modified to be able to thrive in the existing environment. The term was coined by science fiction author James Blish, who wrote a series of short stories based on the idea.

<i>Endymion</i> (Simmons novel)

Endymion is the third science fiction novel by American writer Dan Simmons, part of his Hyperion Cantos fictional universe. Centered on the new characters Aenea and Raul Endymion, it has been well received like Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion - within a year of its release, the paperback edition had gone through five reprints. The novel was shortlisted for the 1997 Locus Award.

Black holes in fiction

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<i>The Rise of Endymion</i>

The Rise of Endymion is a 1997 science fiction novel by American writer Dan Simmons. It is the fourth and final novel in his Hyperion Cantos fictional universe. It won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1998.


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  12. The Fall of Hyperion
  13. https://www.audubon.org/news/shrikes-have-absolutely-brutal-way-killing-large-prey