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] Within the fictional storyline, the Hyperion Cantos is an epic poem written by the character Martin Silenus.[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.

A film adaptation of the series titled Hyperion is being developed by Warner Bros. and will encompass the Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion novels.[9][10][11][12]



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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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][13] 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."[14]


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.


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 following planets appear or are specifically mentioned in the Hyperion Cantos.

  • Armaghast — A desert planet, often a site for exiles or prisoners, where ruins of an ancient alien civilization have been found. One of nine labyrinthine planets.
  • Asquith — A planet populated by exiles from Britain. The homeland of 'Sad King Billy' before his artists' exodus to Hyperion to avoid the Glennon-Height rebellion.
  • Barnard's World — Located in the Barnard's Star system; one of the first extra-solar worlds to be colonized, features large stretches of farmland and well-known post-secondary education institutions. Rachel Weintraub is a native of this world, and Sol Weintraub taught at one of the colleges there.
  • Brescia — a farm world invaded by the Ousters.
  • Castrop-Rauxel
  • Deneb Drei
  • Deneb Vier
  • Esperance — The second Keats cybrid lived on this world for a time.
  • Earth 2 — Very little is told about this planet in the series.
  • Freude — A bustling planet known for the colourful dress of its inhabitants.
  • Fuji — A small planet with tropical climate. The planet's inhabitants are of Asian origin (presumably Japanese). The main pets on this planet are sharks (that are very common there due to the seedships of the Hegira).
  • Garden — A forest world close to Hyperion. This world had a population of sentient centaurs which were hunted to extinction by the Hegemony.
  • God's Grove — A forest planet, home of the Templars, whose worship of nature seeks to mold life to preserve and spread it throughout the galaxy.
  • Heaven's Gate — Orbiting the star Alpha Lyrae or Vega, a toxic planet that is difficult to keep terraformed, but rich in mineral resources; it serves as a temporary (and highly unpleasant, but nevertheless important) home for Martin Silenus after he is forced to leave Old Earth. Eventually terraformed into beauty and comfort under the Hegemony, its capital of Mudflat with its famous Promenade was a popular tourist destination. Leveled by TechnoCore cybrids posing as Ousters at the time of the Fall, it quickly returned to its original uninhabitability.
  • Hebron — A primarily Jewish desert planet, Hebron is independent of the Hegemony. The use of farcaster portals on Hebron is limited to the capital city, New Jerusalem. Besides the capital city, the people of Hebron live in kibbutzim.
  • Hyperion — An Outback world that nonetheless played a pivotal role in galactic affairs. One of nine labyrinthine planets, home of the Time Tombs and the mysterious Shrike.
  • Ixion — A jungle world, where Aenea teaches natives in the western hemisphere. The Pax controls only the eastern hemisphere.
  • Lee III
  • Lusus — A high-gravity industrial world where people live in hives. Once represented in the Hegemony Senate by Byron Lamia, his daughter, detective Brawne Lamia, is a native of the world.
  • Madhya — Formerly a Hindu colony, it is the world chosen for the location of the New Vatican by Pax loyalists after the fall of the Pax. Madhya in Hindi means Centre (as in the present-day Madhya Pradesh, whose name literally means "Central Province"). Colonized from Parvati.
  • Madre de Dios — A desert planet apparently populated by colonists from Spain. Homeworld of Father Captain Federico de Soya.
  • Mao Four
  • Mare Infinitus — A planet covered by water— Martin Silenus had a guest bathroom on this planet consisting of a small raft with a toilet, no walls and no ceiling. In the novel Endymion it is stated that this world is the moon of a subjovian planet orbiting the star known as 70 Opiuchi A
  • Mars — One of many planets terraformed by the Hegemony of Man. Home to the Palestinians after they flee Earth (the State of Palestine won its independence but a few weeks before a major nuclear war in the Middle East rendered it uninhabitable, and the Palestinian exodus thus dates to before the Hegira). During the Human Hegemony, the headquarters of FORCE, the military arm of government.
  • Maui-Covenant — An ocean planet originally populated with the mix of conservationists and Pacific Islanders. Rich biosphere includes living mobile islands, among other things. Native wildlife including Earth dolphins and 'motile' isles were almost completely destroyed during Siri's Rebellion, in the years following its introduction into the WorldWeb.
  • Metaxas
  • Moon — Mentioned briefly in the series.
  • New Earth — Apparently a decent substitute for Old Earth, but it does not get much of a spotlight in the series.
  • New Harmony
  • New Mecca
  • NGCes 2629-4BIV — The only planet in the NGC 2629 system that can support life. Human explorers, tourists, and scientists were stranded there after the Fall and have survived as indigenies over the centuries following the Fall. The population remains at a few thousand, as the humans remaining probably have very limited access to modern technology and compete with the planet's population of Old Earth re-seeded and native predators.
  • Nevermore — A primarily non-Christian, low tech world in a system with a high number of comets. Only a small part of this planet is under Pax control. The planet is covered with forests and its inhabitants live in stone buildings. This planet is seemingly Edgar Allan Poe-themed.
  • Nordholm — A world that seems to be influenced by Scandinavian origins.
  • Old Earth — The original Earth, believed to have been destroyed by The Big Mistake of '08 (in which a miniature black hole was dropped into its core), but later shown to have been spirited away by 'other' beings of godlike abilities and consciousness.
  • Orbital Forests — Not actually planets, but orbiting forests (having atmospheres kept in by containment fields) created by the Ousters, who live in them (along with other types of space colonies); eventually these grow into Dyson trees, a biological variant of Dyson Spheres.
  • Pacem — A planet serving as the base of the Catholic Church; home of Lenar Hoyt. The Vatican and parts of the city of Rome were relocated there after The Big Mistake which was thought to have destroyed Old Earth.
  • Parvati — A planet populated by reformed Hindus.
  • Patawpha — Meina Gladstone, the CEO of the Human Hegemony, hailed from the backwater regions of this swampy world. Possibly named after William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi.
  • Qom-Riyadh — A primarily Muslim planet.
  • Renaissance Minor — A primarily agricultural world in the same star system as Renaissance Vector.
  • Renaissance Vector — A primarily urban world, with major centers named after giants of the Italian Renaissance. Known for its advanced medical facilities, archives and research institutions. An ecumenopolis, the planet fared well after the Fall through its relationship with Renaissance Minor.
  • Sibiatu's Bitterness also known as Inevitable Grace- Orbiting the star Lacaille 9352, an environmentally marginal planet with a thin methane-ammonia atmosphere.
  • Sol Draconi Septem — A somewhat terraformed planet almost completely covered by a glacier atmosphere; it is difficult to keep even a small part of this planet terraformed, and it has even higher gravity than Lusus. Survivors of the Fall exist in this planet as nomadic tribes.
  • Svoboda — A tidally-locked and barely habitable planet 3 light-years from the planet Pacem, Svoboda is one of the nine Labyrinthine worlds.
  • Tau Ceti Center (TC2) — Orbiting the star Tau Ceti, the administrative capital of the Hegemony of Man or Hegemony. As an ecumenopolis, it was the most densely populated planet under the Hegemony of Man, and home to Hegemony Senate, Government House, and the famous Deer Park.
  • Tempe
  • Thalía
  • T'ien Shan — A planet covered by mountains, with low-lying poisonous gases and acid seas confining humans to tall mountains; populated by reformed Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Norse, and others, although the action of the story takes place in Buddhist-controlled territory. Presumably named for the Tian Shan, the "Mountains of Heaven" or "Celestial Mountains" in Central Asia.
  • Tsingtao-Hsishuang Panna
  • Vitus-Gray-Balianus B — A planet inhabited by people of the Amoiete Spectrum Helix, a religion that allows non-traditional marriages, including those having more than two people; they are organized on the basis of colors, somewhat like the Druzes do.
  • Whirl — The forgotten sibling of Barnard's World. A gas giant that was formerly occupied by the Zeplin, a species of semi-intelligent, large, buoyant lifeforms which occupy the thermals between layers of gas.



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.

Hawking Drive

The Hawking Drive was developed by the Human scientists, allowing the faster than light travel which led to the Hegira (from the Hebrew word "Hagira", meaning migration). The speed of a Hawking Drive ship is constant, no ship is faster than any other (until the invention of the Gideon Drive). For a ship and its passengers travelling via Hawking Drive time progresses roughly 20 times slower; two weeks "ship-time" travel correspond to roughly one standard year,[15] the amount of time transpired outside of the ship is referred to as "time-debt". It was named after Stephen Hawking; whereas the hawking mat was named after the species of bird found on old Earth. Aenea later revealed that the TechnoCore created FTL drive by utilising the Void Which Binds.

Gideon drive

A Core-provided starship drive that allows 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.

Resurrection creche

The resurrection creche can regenerate someone carrying a cruciform from their remains (though not always); this is integrated into the Pax Christian church original concept of resurrection. Usually it requires a clergyman to oversee (apparently, only a small percentage know the secrets involved), but Gideon Drive Pax spaceships, whose near-instantaneous travel killed its passengers, were equipped with automatically working devices.


Living trees (related to Dyson trees) that are propelled by ergs (spider-like solid-state alien being that emits force fields) through space. The ergs also generate the containment fields around the enormous tree that keep its atmosphere intact. There are only a small number of Treeships in existence - in Hyperion, the Consul remarks that the Yggdrasill is one of only five.

  • Lasers: Commonly referred to as Hellwhips, these range in power from small pistols to large vehicle based weapons. Lasers are not commonly used on ships, which can mount more powerful particle beam weapons.
  • Plasma bombs and grenades: A type of weapon available to military forces (and civilians, through the black market). Plasma weapons are described as being very powerful and destructive, as well as producing large amounts of radiation. During the Ouster invasion of Hyperion, plasma bombs are used and are seen as brilliant semispherical explosions of light. In the riots on Hyperion, shortly before the arrival of the Consul and the other pilgrims, several plasma grenades were used on the Shrike church, reducing the massive stone-and-steel structure to a mass of smoldering rubble and slag.
  • CPBs: Ship based particle beam weaponry. These range in power from small beams with a radius of only a few meters, as seen in Endymion, to weapons capable of leveling cities, as used by the TechnoCore in The Fall of Hyperion, and are the main armament of Torch Ships.
  • Hawking Missiles: Missiles equipped with their own Hawking Drive, allowing them to travel faster than light and giving them a much greater range than conventional weaponry. Only seen in Endymion and The Rise of Endymion.
  • Bhees: Beams of High Energy Electrons, these are beams of focused and accelerated electrons with considerable penetrating power.
  • Deathwands: Weapons given to humanity by the AI TechnoCore. These are the ultimate "clean" weapon: capable of killing people while leaving property intact. Deathwands burn out all the synapses in a human brain, causing almost instantaneous death; thus they would kill humans but not damage physical property (compare neutron bomb). These weapons were normally handheld, though with a wide dispersal beam. Just before the Fall of the Hegemony (in The Fall of Hyperion), the TechnoCore introduced a large scale deathwand variant which it claimed would kill the entire population of a planet, as well as any other world in a 1.5 light year radius of its point of detonation. Its introduction was apparently pushed by the Volatile and Ultimate factions of the TechnoCore; this origin as well as other indirect evidence suggests the possibility that TechnoCore was lying about the lethal radius, and that the radius was either indefinite (as the Hegemony's scientists had concluded and is supported by Aenea's contention in the Endymion duology that a deathwand operated by means of disturbances in the Void-Which-Binds) or vastly greater than that of the Hegemony's spatial expanse. Another possibility is that they lied about the number of the deathwand bombs built, and actually had enough to wipe out every system individually.
  • Flechette guns and rifles: Weapons which shoot thousands of small steel darts. These weapons have a wide dispersal and are capable of ripping practically anything in their path to shreds.
  • Stunners: Small weapons which are used to subdue rather than injure (point blank headshots, however, are lethal). Neural stunners cause paralysis by affecting the nervous system. A person hit by a stun beam is incapable of even blinking.

The Shrike[edit]

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.[16] 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 latter 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 unimaginably large, metallic tree, alive with the agonized writhing of countless human victims of all ages and races.[17] It is also hinted in the second book that Tree of Thorns is actually a simulation generated by some mystical interface which connects to human brains via some strong and pulsing (like it is alive) cord.

Cultural references[edit]

  • Danish progressive power metal band Manticora released a concept album called Hyperion based on the first book.
  • The anime The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi contains numerous references to Hyperion, hinted at by the appearance of the book itself in the second episode of the remake (2009) of the series.
  • American melodic death metal band Vörnagar released a song called Hyperion based on the series.
  • Norwegian power metal band Keldian released a song called Hyperion based on the series.


  1. ^ Simmons, Dan (1996). Hyperion Cantos. ISBN 1-56865-175-9. 
  2. ^ Landon, Brooks (2002). Science fiction after 1900: from the steam man to the stars. Routledge. p. 236. ISBN 0-415-93888-0. 
  3. ^ a b Hartwell, David G. (2006). The Space Opera Renaissance. Macmillan. p. 311. ISBN 0-7653-0617-4. 
  4. ^ "About Dan: Publishing history". dansimmons.com. 
  5. ^ Simmons, Dan (1989). Hyperion. p. 179. 
  6. ^ "1990 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  7. ^ "1991 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  8. ^ "1998 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-07-16. 
  9. ^ "Warner Bros. nabs Hyperion"(an update from the author's website)
  10. ^ "IMDB entry". Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  11. ^ Hunter, Rob. "Dan Simmons’ ‘Hyperion Cantos’ Finds A Director". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  12. ^ "database entry". The Movie Insider. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  13. ^ Harris-Fain, Darren (2005). Understanding contemporary American science fiction. p. 129. ISBN 1-57003-585-7. 
  14. ^ Simmons, Dan (2002). Worlds Enough & Time. HarperCollins. p. 65. ISBN 0-06-050604-0. 
  15. ^ Page 653: The Endymion Omnibus
  16. ^ Jonas, Gerald (March 25, 1990). "SCIENCE FICTION". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  17. ^ The Fall of Hyperion

External links[edit]