Hyperion

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The Hyperion Cantos is a series of four science fiction novels written by Dan Simmons. They are:

  1. Hyperion
  2. The Fall of Hyperion
  3. Endymion
  4. The Rise of Endymion

It's eight hundred years into the future, and humanity has fled Earth's accidental destruction[1] and established the WorldWeb, a society of many planets connected through the farcaster network. With the help of its allies in the TechnoCore (a group of emancipated A Is), mankind lives in peace...until the mysterious "Ousters", a splinter race of humanity adapated to living in deep space, attacks the WorldWeb. As the situation becomes desperate, a group of seven pilgrims is sent to the planet Hyperion, a colony world guarded by the inscrutable killing machine known as the Shrike. Their hope is that their desperate appeal to the Shrike will persuade it to give them some of its alien technology that can save humanity. During the journey, the pilgrims, each of whom has a personal link to Hyperion, begin to tell each other their stories, and realize that things are much more complicated than they thought...

Overall, the series is inspired by the unfinished epic poem Hyperion by John Keats. The first book is modeled after The Canterbury Tales, especially in how each pilgrim has an opportunity to tell their own individual story.


Tropes used in Hyperion include:
  • Artificial Human: Androids are practically vat-grown humans, and cybrids are essentially biological terminals for the Core. Nemes might qualify as one as well.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: The TechnoCore.
  • All Hail the Great God Mickey: The Templars and the Voice of the Tree appear to worship John Muir, a major proponent for the preservation of American forests in the early 19th Century, and a book of Muir's is found among Het Masteen's possessions after he is apparently killed by the Shrike. The Templar's devotion to Muir vaguely resembles that of Brave New World's adulation of Henry Ford as a god-figure in the future.
  • And I Must Scream: The Shrike's victims on the Tree of Pain.
    • Also Father Duré. And Rachel Weintraub. And Martin Silenus, though in his case it taught him real poetry. Dan Simmons is good friends with Harlan Ellison.
  • Author Appeal: Dan Simmons is a former public school English teacher, so it amuses him to stuff his genre fiction with as many literary references as he can get away with.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Brawne and Johnny visit one in one of Lusus' seedier Hives.
  • Blessed with Suck: The cruciform in Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion is a cross-shaped parasite that grants its hosts a powerful Healing Factor - but slowly turns them into physically and mentally neutered caricatures of humanity.
    • It doesn't get much better in Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, it makes you dependent on the Pax and gives your mind over to the Core.
    • Not to mention that it functions as built in shock collar.
  • Body Horror: The cruciforms.
  • The Butcher: Colonel Kassad. The "backhanded compliment" version, at least to some.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Military Power Armor works that way.
  • Colonel Badass: Kassad again.
  • Corrupt Church: Very much so in the latter two books with the "Pax", a descendant of the Vatican that controls nearly all of mankind. While individual members (along with the occasional pope) may be good, the church overall acts as one of the main villain organizations in Endymion and Rise of Endymion.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There are seven people on a pilgrimage of sorts, to a holy place, and tell stories to pass the time... Gee, where have I seen that before?
    • Aenea is a messiah, who trains as a architect and shares her blood and lets herself be killed to liberate mankind.
  • Doing in the Wizard: In the first two books, the Shrike was ill-explained, lending it an air of mystery and heightening it's scariness. Later, however, in the later two book, it's origins are fully explained and retconned in a way that rather diminishes its badassness.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: In the fourth novel, when Raul takes on Nemes barehanded, it's worth noting that for the duration of the fight, the Powers That Be have taken away her ability to move in Laser Time, so that it's just slightly more of an even fight. Although she still has bones made of metal, has long claws, shark teeth, feels no pain, etc.
  • Earth-That-Was: it gets better.
  • Dyson Sphere: Well, Dyson Tree. There are multiple trees.
  • Ensemble Cast: The first book.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Consul.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The condition the Ousters keep their prisoners of war in. The Tree of Pain is also this.
  • Face Heel Turn: Hoyt murders Duré and becomes the Pope. By spreading the cruciform to humanity, he enslaves it to the Core.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Martin Silenus undergoes Space Opera style body modifications to turn himself into a satyric figure.
  • Five-Man Band: Very shaky, but doable in the first book. In fact, the travelers are practically the inverse of one.
    • The Hero: Fedmahn Kassad best fits this role, but he lacks the emotional connection with his teammates that heroes are generally supposed to have.
    • The Lancer: Martin Silenus fills this role only in the sense that he continuously tears apart any sense of order brought to the team by Kassad.
    • The Smart Guy: Lenar Hoyt isn't particularly intelligent, but he is the frailest. He doesn't know a thing about technology, and is rarely prepared for anything, though he is the second most educated of the group next to Sol Weintraub.
    • The Big Guy: Brawne Lamia isn't as trained in combat as Kassad, and is in fact the shortest one there save for Rachel, but she tends to take on this role. She's also quite intelligent.
    • The Chick, The Heart: Sol Weintraub is the only one to correctly capture the spirit of his role, although he is the oldest one of the group and is more morose than cheerful.
    • Rachel serves as The Load or even the Team Pet.
    • The Sixth Ranger: The Consul, the most secretive of the group as well as the least sociable. He doesn't join any later than the others, and is in fact the first character to be introduced.
  • Franchise Zombie: an in-universe example, in "The Poet's Tale" in Hyperion
  • Gambit Pileup: Pretty much what caused the Ouster invasion.
    • Right, let's see... The Core provokes Bressia to attack the Ouster Swarm secretly, so the Swarm's massive retaliation looks like unprovoked barbaric aggression to the Hegemony. Said massive retaliation is actually not the Ousters, but instead the Core making sure the Web is freaked out about how genocidal and tough the Ousters are. Meanwhile the Core plants more fake Swarms around the Web so they can manufacture an invasion on demand. When Gladstone brings Hyperion into the Web, the real Ousters invade there to keep the Core from taking the Time Tombs. The Core sends their fake invasion against the Web and hands the Hegemony the deathwand device, urging them to point it at the real Ousters. ... did I miss anything?
    • But seriously, the Core Intelligences must sit around all day doing these to each other. Let's see, was the Shrike sent back in time by the Volatiles to kill humanity; or by the Stables to stick humanity in the labyrinths with the cruciform to serve as parasitic CPUs; or by the Ultimates or the machine UI to use the thorn tree to summon Empathy to be killed off ... or by the Ousters, Templars, and Ummon's faction to bring about the good ending?
  • Genre Savvy : Many of the characters quip various lampshades in various archetypal situtations (i. e. father Duré wondering at first if the Bikura hadn't mistakened him for a deity, remarking that something like that is worthy of clichéd holonovels).
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: Martin's father takes this trope Up to Eleven.
  • God Was My Co-Pilot: Bettik is the Observer for the Lions and Tigers and Bears.
  • Heavyworlder: Brawne Lamia (and all other Lusans, by extension), as well as the (not often seen) folks from Sol Draconi Septem.
  • Heel Face Turn: De Soya, and (most) the crew of both his Archangel ships.
  • Held Gaze: One happens between Kassad and Moneta when they are lying on the forest floor after they have just met.
  • Hero of Another Story: Rachel's adventures are hinted at in a few tantalizing scenes in first, second and fourth books.
  • Hidden Villain
  • Homage: The first book is written in the style of The Canterbury Tales and the series is inspired by the work of John Keats. In addition, several of the individual tales are homages to other SF works or genres. "The Priest's Tale" bears a a striking resemblance to James Blish's A Case of Conscience, "The Detective's Tale" is cyberpunk (complete with a William Gibson Name Drop) and "The Soldier's Tale" uses a lot of elements from Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. The Consul's Tale is a sci-fi Romeo and Juliet.
  • Human Popsicle: Used for interstellar travel. Silenus uses this to extend his life, and the Core does this to bilions of humans in the second half of the series to use them as massive parallel processors.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The Gideon drive is described as being terrifying to use, and kills you incredibly painfully.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Shrike gets its name from its habit of doing this.
  • Invisibility Flicker: The Shrike could (and sometimes does) fight without ever being seen but it's too sadistic to not make itself known most of the time. Being Nigh Invulnerable means that it doesn't come as much of a risk.
  • Kill'Em All: Book Two. Well, almost.
  • Koan: Ummon has quite a few of these. Not surprising, given that he's named after the great Chinese Zen master, Yunmen Wenyan, known in Japanese (and from there English) as Ummon. Some of them may or may not have the Ice Cream Koan nature, depending on how firmly you believe the A Is are really in control of things.
  • Kudzu Plot
  • The Man Behind the Man: The Core in the first two books are behind everything from the Ouster invasion to the motherfucking Shrike!
  • May-December Romance: Raul and Aenea are a rather extreme example; they first met when he was twenty-seven and Aenea was merely twelve.
    • Although it's worth pointing out that their ages are drawn closer together by effects of relativistic time-debt before they actually hook up.
  • Meaningful Name: Given that Dan Simmons is quite fond of literary references galore in his novels, some of the names have meaning beyond just the name. Notable examples being "Brawne" Lamia (Brawne being the last name of John Keats' Real Life sweetheart, and Brawne herself falls in love with a retrieved from the past John Keats in the form of a cybrid) and there is also Rachel Weintraub. Rachel means "Lamb" and at the midpoint of the Fall of Hyperion she becomes the Sacrificial Lamb when Sol, her father, re-enacts the Sacrifice of Abraham.
  • The Messiah: Aenea, prophesied as the 'One-Who-Teaches'.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Shrike.
  • Nanomachines: A ubiquitous part of the setting.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Occasionally used, more than not often averted.
  • Eucatastrophe: Fall of Hyperion. And how.
  • Nigh Invulnerability: The cruciform allows for regeneration from a few molecules, albeit as an increasingly more retarded and genderless being. The Core can prevent the degeneration. The Shrike and Nemes also have this: The Shrike is Made of Diamond to practically everything, and with Time Travel, it can 'come back' from destruction. Nemes, when phase shifted, shows invulnerability second only to the Shrike; even an eighty gigawatt laser was unable to destroy her, or cause any notable harm.
  • Non-Linear Character: Moneta Who is actually Rachel Weintraub, whose experience in the Time Tombs has enabled her to move backwards and forwards in time and space, thus allowing her to have a Time Travel Romance with Kassad, be one of Aenea's disciples and ultimately save herself when her father sacrifices her to the Shrike. In a way, one might say that she's this series' River Song.
  • No Name Given: The Consul.
  • Offing the Offspring: Big spoiler here. Sol Weintraub reenacts the Sacrifice of Abraham.
    • Considering she was only seconds away from non-existence, this might have been the only way to save her.
  • Oh Crap: When Kassad is in a simulation of the Battle of Agincourt, he notices that he might be trained with every kind of future weaponry and a longbow as well, but doesn't have any of those things at hand right now - and he just charged alone after a heavily armed knight. His reaction? "Ah shit."
  • One-Man Army: The Shrike can, and does kill thousands of people and dozens of vehicles in less then a picosecond. Literally. Nemes and her 'siblings' are each capable of tearing through an army as well.
  • Organic Technology: Fairly common in the universe; the largest example being the Templars tree ships, which are giant, space-travelling trees protected by force fields generated from living things. Many forms of AI are apparently DNA based, whatever that means. The Core utilizes humans as vast parallel processors, first by using people travelling through farcasters, and then using the cruciforms.
    • I'd argue startrees are actually the largest example...by a long shot. Essentially Dyson spheres composed entirely of organic plant-life. The gaps between the roots are the size of several large planets, marked as spoiler due to their appearance so late in the series.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Kassad's conquest and defense of the Solar System are largely off-camera.
  • Our Gods Are Greater: They're called Ultimate Intelligences, at least some are computers, and we create them, not the other way around.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Depending on your definition of 'person', the Shrike. He/it is effectively invulnerable, and with his time/space manipulation he/it can kill thousands in less then a second.
  • Physical God: The Shrike can freely manipulate time and space, and is for all intents and purposes invulnerable. Appropriately enough, he has a church devoted to him.
  • Portal Door
  • Powered Armor: The combat armor worn by FORCE troops in the first two books, which lets Kassad move his hand in a simple chop faster than the speed of sound to decapitate an opponent; it also has an entire ton of specialised defensive capacities (absorbing concussions as well as impacts from rifle bullets or grenade fragments as well as radiating off the energy from laser beams and). The Swiss Guard's armor in the second two would likewise count. And one might make an argument for the skinsuits that Kassad and Moneta utilize, which give incredible strength, speed, and durability, and as a bonus makes the wearer into a Chrome Champion.
  • Power of Love: The Void That Binds. Allows for time travel and a form of telepathy/psychometry with all living things. Not bad, is it?
  • Powers That Be: The "Lions and Tigers and Bears." Not to mention the various Ultimate Intelligences.
  • Pregnant Badass: Brawne Lamia.
  • Reformed but Rejected: No one ever remembers that Col. Kassad resigned his commission and became an anti-war activist; once you earn a nickname like "The Butcher of South Bressia", you're not going to get remembered for anything else
  • Retcon: The second two books revise and reinterpret many of the events of the first two. See Doing in the Wizard above.
  • Retro Rocket: The Consul's starship is designed to look like one. His intent was to make it fit the Platonic ideal of "space ship".
  • River of Insanity : Father Duré's expedition to the mysterious Bikura tribe on Hyperion, retold by Hoyt in the Priest's Tale.
  • Rubber Forehead Aliens: Averted; several sapient species described in Hyperion are incredibly different. Even the Ousters, who are genetically altered humans, can look radically different from normal humans.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: There is mention of intelligent telepathic dolphins. Unfortuantly they were hunted nearly to extinction because it was discovered they were sentient.
  • Sapient Ship: The Consul's "singleship" is piloted by an AI (and lacks obvious manual controls).
  • Scenery Gorn: In the second book, the invasion of Hyperion to a lesser extent, and in huge amounts when the assumed Ouster swarms destroy Heaven's Gate and God's Grove.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Brain damage reduces Martin Silenus' vocabulary to these, for a time.
  • Shout-Out: Jack Vance's 'The Dying Earth' shares a title with Martin Silenus' monster best-seller.
    • There are quite frankly too damned many to count, even if you take out all the John Keats stuff. There's even a The Wizard of Oz reference near the end of the first book. The Hegemony truly has no culture save for what it remembers from Old Earth.
    • The opening paragraph is basically a long version of the quintessential line, "It was a dark and stormy night."
    • It also has an absolutely hysterical reference to Mad Magazine in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it line about 43-Man Squamish.
  • Sophisticated as asshole cunt peepee fuck: Martin Silenus' entire Modus Operandi.
  • Spikes of Villainy: The Shrike.
  • Swiss Army Gun: The multipurpose FORCE assault rifle. A Laser beam throwing, flechette grenade launching Disintegrator Ray particle cannon sniper rifle. I want one.
    • It is said in the novel that the only thing it was not designed to do is cook the troops' food, but with its energy weapon component on its lowest setting, it could probably do that too.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Farcasting allows for instantaneous travel through two connected points. At the end of the series, anyone can teleport anywhere using the "Void That Binds".
  • The Only One Allowed To Kill You: Kassad and the Shrike. The Rise of Endymion reveals that he is only one allowed to do so because part of his soul resides in the Shrike, thus he is paradoxically killing himself. But doing so {paradoxically} ensures that he lives into the future and becomes Moneta's lover and one of the heroes of the Hyperion Cantos saga. Whoa, now that is deep stuff, now isn't it.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting
  • Time Travel: Uses a ton of Time Travel tropes, seeing as how time travel is key to the series:
    • Casual Time Travel: In the future, it seems to be employed quite literally by the Core and humanity.
    • Future Badass: Rachel becomes Moneta, who is quite capable of taking down Kassad.
    • Merlin Sickness: Rachel Weintraub (the Trope Namer)
    • Stable Time Loop: The entirety of the plot of the series seems to suggest one, but see below.
    • Terminator Twosome: The Core sends the Shrike into the past to kill humanity's Ultimate Intelligence, and Moneta/Rachel follows it to help set the plot into motion.
    • Time Stands Still: The Shrike.
    • Time Travel Romance: Kassad and Rachel Weintraub/ Moneta.
    • You Can't Fight Fate: Debatable; Het and Kassad are both destined to die, Rachel is destined to become Moneta, the Shrike is created in the future, ect ect. However, the existence of alternate futures seems to open the possibility that fate isn't set in stone.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Raul lies several times, like when he claims to not know Aenea's fate. He admits it later, and proceeds to dump us, the readers with a torture scene, followed by Aenea burning to death. She almost has her eyelids and nose chewed off by a Nemes clone. Slowly. Who knows what else he hid from us?
  • Universal Driver's License: Raul contemplates this in Endymion as he considers stealing an ornithopter. He realizes he can't fly one, and muses that the fictional heroes who could pilot any vehicle.
  • We Will Use Wiki Words in the Future: The TechnoCore, the WorldWeb, and the AllThing being the most prominent examples.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Most of the first volume, to The Canterbury Tales.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The cruciform keeps you from dying no matter how much you might want to--and also keeps you from leaving a small geographic area. In the second duology, the technology has been harnessed to keep humanity virtually immortal, but at a spiritual price.
  • Wretched Hive: These abound, although the most prominent (and--for us--amusing) is the one on Lusus.
  • Zero-G Spot: Raul and Aenea's weightless consummation of their relationship in the Ouster Startree is described in great..."detail".