by Dan Simmons
Discussed February 2007
by Brenda Krekeler
by Dan Simmons
The Hegemony has recalled the Consul to Hyperion. Het Masteen, captain of the Templar treeship Yggdrasill and True Voice of the Tree, escorts the Consul through the treeship to the dining area. The treeship is carpeted with grass. It has translucent walls, support ribs of curved weirwood and is one kilometer long. The interior has environment pods, truncated walkways and suspension bridges.
There are six passengers on the treeship to Hyperion. They all sit at the Captain’s dining table. The other passengers were introduced.
Father Lenar Hoyt, a Catholic priest, was dressed in a black robe and Roman collar. Hoyt was in his early thirties but he was not well.
Colonel Fedmahn Kassad was known as the Butcher of South Bressia. He was tall, quiet and commanding.
Martin Silenus was a poet, short and out of shape and drunk. A blue tinge to his throat and palms told he had the Poulsen age treatments. The Consul knew Silenus could be a hundred to a hundred and fifty standard years. If Silenus was close to a hundred and fifty the poet was then quite mad.
Sol Weintraub was a well-known scholar. He held his infant daughter Rachel who was only a few weeks old.
Brawne Lamia was a detective, short but muscular. She had black, shoulder-length hair which framed a beautiful face.
These six people (excluding the baby) were pilgrims seeking the Shrike. They need a prime number of pilgrims to go north on the Shrike Church-sponsored trip. Het Masteen announced he was the seventh.
Ousters are identified by Brawne Lamia. The Ousters are not in the system yet. No one knows if they will cause a war or not. They are not motivated by human logic. Colonel Fedmahn Kassad told everyone if the Ousters take the planet of Hyperion they will loot, burn, melt and leave a dead world.
They understood they had four hours until they set down at the spaceport in Keats on Hyperion. Once landed, it will take several days for them to reach the Time Tombs of the Shrike.
Sol Weintraub asked the group if anyone knew why they were chosen by the Shrike Church and the All Thing to go on this pilgrimage. No one knew. Weintraub asked if anyone was a member of the Church of the Shrike. No one was. He commented that as a Jew he did not worship an organic killing machine. Het Masteen was in the Covenant. The Consul declared he was an atheist. Father Hoyt was Catholic. Colonel Kassad shook his head. Silenus says he is now a pagan and declares the Shrike an acceptable deity. Brawne Lamia doesn’t recognize religion.
Weintraub concluded. None of the group was Shrike members but the Shrike elders chose them to visit the Time Tombs and their fierce god instead of the Shrike faithful.
Weintraub suggests that each person tells their story about their connection to Hyperion. The shared information may save all of their lives.
Lamia said, “…what is the use of sharing stories when they meet the Shrike, each will tell it what they want. One will be granted the wish and the rest die.” They all agreed that was the myth. Weintraub said he liked mysteries and would like to discover what secrets each person holds about Hyperion so he may solve the mystery as to why the seven of them have been chosen.
They drew numbers and Father Lenar Hoyt told his story first.
Father Hoyt was ordained on Pacem. There he was ordered to escort Jesuit Father Paul Dure’ to Hyperion. Hoyt learned as much as possible about Hyperion on their trip. Paul Dure’ only wanted to research the Bikura. The Bikura are thought to be survivors of a missing seedship colony from three centuries earlier. Hoyt dropped to the planet with Dure’. Dure’ was processed through customs rapidly and Hoyt was on his way back to Pacem.
Hoyt had journals from Dure’ and asked the group if he could read them as these journals told his story about Hyperion. The group agreed.
Hoyt read entries that document Dure’s experiences for four hundred and thirty eight days. Hyperion has seven forty-day months. He decides to date his entries by day. Dure’ was tired from travel and he slept as soon as he had a chance once he was on Hyperion. After several days of rest, Dure' explores Keats and discovers an abandoned cathedral. Without hesitation he began the celebration of the Eucharist at the altar. Dure’ tires of the city and plans his trip to Port Romance. He traveled by dirigible. Then he booked passage on a boat through a jungle. When he reached Perecebo Plantation he was very ill with fever for four days. Once well, he arranged for a guide named Tuk and two packbirds. They traveled for a week through jungle. They reached the Plateau. Here they came into the flame forest. The first tesla tree Dure’ saw was at least a hundred meters tall. Its crown was an onion-shaped dome of its accumulator gall. Above the dome appeared silver-metallic vines.
Immediately, Tuk had them dress in flame forest gear. It consisted of osmosis masks, thick, rubber-soled boots, and layers of leathery gamma-cloth.
They slept near a bestos break and set out a ring of arrestor rods. Midnight the explosions started. The tesla trees were glowing and spitting arcs of electricity. Trees exploded only thirty meters away making the arrestor rods glow as they deflected blue-white arcs of electricity. Tuk told Dure’ the arrestors would only last so long.
They traveled to an area where there was a fresh stream. There Dure’ set up some of his equipment. Tuk told him now that the tesla trees were fully active he could not return for at least three months. Dure’ was happy to have the company. The next morning Dure’ found Tuk dead; murdered. His throat had been cut and he had bled to death. Dure’ searched for the murderers but found no one. It was over a week since Tuk’s murder when the Bikura found Dure’.
Dure’ had discovered some huts then realized a large group of people were standing behind him. They were short and dressed in dark robes from neck to toe. They glided over the ground like wraiths. All of them were bald, and hairless. No sexual differences. There were about fifty of them and they all were forty to fifty-years old with yellowish skin. They had round faces that showed placid idiocy. They had characteristics similar to that of one with Down’s syndrome or mongolism. Dure’ activated his translator function on his comlog. He soon discovered from them the only reason he was not dead was because he was wearing a cross.
There are seventy Bikura and they call themselves the “Three Score and Ten.” This is the same number of people who crashed on the seedship four hundred years earlier.
Although they did not have names for each other Dure’ called them by names he choose. Alpha, Beta, Del and Eppie are some of the Bikura names Dure’ assigned to the people.
Each evening the Bikura go into the Cleft, down the vines. Dure’ was not permitted to go with them.
There are no children. There are no couples. The Bikura sleep with different people in different places each night.
One day after the Bikura left to forage, Dure’ climbed down the vines and went inside an opening and discovered a huge room that had stained glass walls inlaid with diamonds, sapphires, blood-crystals, lapis beads, queen’s tears and onyxes. It was a very large open area and there was a cross. It appeared to have been here maybe tens of thousands of years.
The next day Dure’ was bathing in the stream when Del saw him. The Bikura became very upset and they discussed killing him. Then Dure’ told them he had been to their altar. With this news the Bikura put Dure’ in a hut while they talked. In three days they told Dure’ he would become of the cruciform. Then they burned his clothes, notes, cassettes, video chips, disks, imager and everything that held information.
They took Dure’ down to the basilica and then down stairs to the bottom of the Cleft. It took hours to make the trip and Dure’ was exhausted.
Dure’ knew Hyperion was a Labyrinthine world. It had tunnels ten to thirty kilometers deep in the crust. There is no evidence as to who built the tunnels or how the tunnels were created.
At the bottom of the valley they went into a tunnel. On the walls of the tunnel were thousands of crosses glowing pink light. They were organic resembling soft coral and they felt warm. The Bikura were kneeling with their eyes lowered. Dure’ standing became aware of a human shaped being. It was three meters tall. It was silver and had curved metal blades protruding from its body. It had four arms and fingers like chrome scalpels. Dure’ knew he was looking at the legendary Shrike. It moved. Rather it flowed from place to place then it was gone. Alpha broke one of the crosses off the wall, tied a rope around it and hung it around Dure’s neck. Alpha announced, “You will be of the cruciform now and forever.”
They wanted Dure’ to climb the wall. Dure’ said he couldn’t and soon collapsed from exhaustion. The Bikura carried him. He slept over a day and a half. When he awoke he decided to go to the stream and take a bath. Dure’ discovered he could not remove the cruciform from his chest. It was part of his flesh. He used his medical equipment and discovered excess ganglia radiating to every part of his body. The cruciform was composed of Dure’s DNA.
Dure’ is now imprisoned by the cruciform. When he tries to leave the pain is so intense he can not bare it.
Day 133. Alpha fell and died. Dure’ brought him back to the Bikura and they placed him on the altar in the basilica. Dure’ watched as Alpha’s body rotted away and was then regenerated. Both Dure’ and Alpha returned to their village.
Dure’ saw no escape. He went to work and built a chapel then he decided he would go into the flame forest and no matter what the pain was he would make it out. That was his last entry in the journal.
Hoyt told the other six pilgrims he had traveled to the Bikura and they showed him Dure’s remains and gave him the journals. The military that Hoyt had traveled with nuked the Bikura and the tunnel. Hoyt did not believe there were any survivors.
Het Masteen told everyone to get their luggage as they would be landing soon.
The Consul told Masteen he would go after Hoyt. The Consul found Hoyt in disarray with scattered luggage and in severe pain. His ultramorph injector had failed. The Consul told him he would give him the shot if Hoyt told him the rest of the story. Hoyt agreed. Hoyt said he had flown into Perecebo eight years after Dure’ disappeared. Hoyt took a skimmer out to the Bikura. That night the Bikura killed his pilot and his scout. The Bikura did not kill him because he wore the cross. They took Hoyt to the Son of the Flames, to Dure’. Hoyt went to what was left of Dure’. Dure’ had used a bestos ladder and built a platform about four meters up the tree. He had broken and sharpened the arrestor rods. Dure’ drove the spikes through his feet into the bestos platform. He also spiked his left hand then impaled his right hand. The ladder had fallen but was made of bestos so Hoyt climbed up. Dure’s clothes, skin and flesh were gone years ago. The bestos pouch was around his neck.
Hoyt said it looked like Paul Dure’. Dure’ had been living and dying on that tree for seven years. The cruciform forced him to live. The electricity was surging through him for seven years. Flames. Hunger. Pain. Death. The cruciform forced life. Hoyt removed the bestos pouch and the cruciform fell off. The man corpse raised its head, smiled and died in Hoyt’s arms. The Bikura took Hoyt back to the Cleft. Orlandi rescued Hoyt and lasered the village with nukes.
The Consul gave Hoyt the ultramorph injection. Hoyt passed out and the Consul opened his shirt. There was a cruciform on his front chest. The Consul turned Hoyt over and the second one was on his back.
Once they landed on Hyperion, the group was told by the military they had to wait for transport. Then a ship came in with the new Governor-General Theo Lane. He welcomed everyone and they then departed with the Governor. Theo Lane, a good friend of the Consul, told everyone the Home Rule Council of Hyperion requested and was granted formal colonial status. Hyperion was now the newest world in the Hegemony.
Theo Lane asked the Consul to forget the pilgrimage and stay to govern Hyperion. The Consul refused and Lane left the group off in the middle of the city. The Consul knew of a bar where they were fed by an old acquaintance of the Consul’s. An android contacted the group and they boarded an Old Earth boat on their pilgrimage to the Time Tombs. Once rested, they listened to the next story. Fedmahn Kassad had drawn number two.
During Kassad’s military training he would be met by a beautiful woman after some of his most fierce battles. Kassad and this woman would make passionate love. She would never talk. He searched for her everywhere he traveled.
Kassad won his double-edged nickname the Butcher of South Bressia while he fought the Ousters on the planet of Bressia. Kassad was sent in for a two-day battle by the FORCE to defend Bressia. Ninety-seven days and over one hundred and eighty thousand dead troops later he had taken the planet back. He dreamed of the woman as he watched the final battle. He knew she was not just a dream.
Kassad was never injured in the ninety-seven days of war while fighting for the Hegemony. He was giving an interview with the Worldweb when a plasma booby trap sent the building crashing down on him. He was medi-vacked to HQ and then to a jumpship where he was put on full life support. His superiors decided to let Kassad recover in fugue while the hospital ship traveled back to the Worldweb.
Kassad woke up and was told they were orbiting Hyperion. Then the ship was attached by the Ousters. Kassad was able to put on a dead Marine’s space suit. He escaped his damaged hospital ship in one of the Ouster pods. He then fell to the surface of Hyperion. The pod/Ouster carrier burned up on entry. Kassad once again woke up. Now he was on Hyperion in the presence of this beautiful woman. They once again made passionate love repeatedly. She told him her name was Moneta. They had to fight the Ousters. She told Kassad they were very close to the Time Tombs. Both she and Kassad entered a time shift where they moved very fast and the Ousters were in slow motion. They killed the Ousters and the Shrike helped them. The Shrike allowed one group of the Ousters to leave because he wanted them to tell others about the attack. The Ousters were described by Kassad as having long limbs, prehensile toes and prosthetic tails. In order to prepare a human for interrogators the Ousters would have the human flayed, bath the organs in nutrients and amputate there extremities.
Once again Kassad and the beautiful woman made love. This time however she turned into a Shrike. Kassad was maddened by the freakish change and escaped. He was found by Hyperion’s Self Defense Force two days later. He was airlifted to Keats and treated for two severe wounds the Shrike had given him. Kassad healed, returned to the Worldweb and then disappeared from the media. It was now sixteen years later and he has returned to Hyperion.
He told the others in his group he wasn’t here to ask a question of the Shrike. Kassad’s intension is to kill them.
Martin Silenus had drawn the third position to relate his story of Hyperion. Martin Silenus is a poet. Two standard centuries ago he settled on Hyperion. He is five hundred years old. He was born on Old Earth after the Big Mistake. Silenus was sent off Old Earth by his mother when he was twenty-years old. It took one hundred and sixty seven years to reach Heaven’s Gate. He had a stroke during his long fugue. He worked digging acid canals. His language consisted of only nine words. His explanation of these three years in the mud pits is hilarious.
All Thing became humanity’s despots. The Hegemony became a formal entity. The Worldweb developed. All this happened while Silenus slept and recovered on Heaven’s Gate. While working the mud flats, he wrote poetry in his head. Then his words came back and he wrote his Cantos. He was beaten one day and a woman rescued him. He was hospitalized. She had his book published. He married her and he made billions off the sales of his book.
With her he was consumed by drugs. Then he went on to brain implants. He became involved in politics with the All Thing. Next was an obsession with religions. He created a few. He then farcasted to the thirty-six worlds of his home and beyond. He began to write and after the ninth Book of Dying Earth he lost his muse.
Silenus decided to stop the Dying Earth series, sold his house, paid his debts and went to live with Sad King Billy. Silenus wrote poetry for the next ten years. Sad Billy decided they were all going to Hyperion. Martin went with him.
Martin lived a decadent life on Hyperion. Then, the murders began. People were found slaughtered everywhere. Sad Billy showed a video to Silenus and it showed a Shrike committing the murders. Silenus told Sad Billy to leave Hyperion and that Silenus had found his muse in the Shrike murders. Everyone left the Poets City except about a hundred people. Martin stayed. The murders continued but fewer and less often. Eventually everyone was gone except Martin and the Shrike. Martin believes he summoned the Shrike for his poem. But it was the presence of the Shrike that was his muse.
Sad King Billy had been gone over twelve years when Martin found King Billy reading his poem. Martin was furious. Sad King Billy noted to Martin that his poem stopped the same time of the last murder of the last person left except for Martin. Martin raised a candlestick to hit Sad King Billy. Billy showed Martin a neural stunner. Billy stunned Martin and proceeded to burn the Cantos. Martin begged him to stop but Sad King Billy said Martin had drawn the Shrike with his poem and it must be destroyed. The Shrike appeared and stabbed Sad King Billy with its chrome daggers. Billy pleaded with Martin to finish burning the poem. Martin did. Billy vaporized. The Shrike left and Martin copied his poem for the next year. Martin had indeed lost his muse. The next two hundred years or so were uneventful and mostly spent in cryogenic travel. Now all he wants is his muse back.
The group arrived at a deserted town named Edge. There they boarded an automated windwagon that would carry them that night and the next day to the mountains across a great grass sea. After dinner Sol Weintraub told his tale.
Sol Weintraub and his wife Sarai lived on Barnard’s World. Sold had taught history for ten years at Nightenhelser College. Sol met Sarai at Nightenhelser. They married and had a daughter Rachel who did her graduate work at Nightenhelser. Her field was archeology and she traveled. Rachel left for Hyperion to work on the Time Tombs. She spent a few months in cryogenic sleep where seven years had passed for Sol and Sarai. This was a difficult time for them. One night Sold had a dream where he was told to bring his baby daughter Rachel to Hyperion and offer her as a burnt offering.
On Hyperion, Rachel was in the bottom of the Sphinx by herself monitoring their equipment. One night she experienced a time shift. All the lights went out. Rachel fell into a comma. She was shipped back to the Web where Sol and Sarai met her. They found Rachel confused after a seventeen-week comma. Rachel was aging in reverse. When Rachel had reversed back to the age of twenty she had reduced her body mass and each time she fell asleep she would forget everything. She made a video of herself in explanation. Near here twentieth birthday she asked her father not to let here watch the videos. She no longer wanted the pain from the other Rachel.
Sol and Sarai received Poulsen treatments and dressed in clothes from fifteen years earlier. When Rachel turned thirteen years old Melio Arundez, her teacher and lover on Hyperion, came to see Sol and Rachel met them outside their house. Dr. Arundez was shocked to see her so young. His life was forever changed as he constantly searches for the cause of Rachel’s illness. It was a sad scene. When Rachel was ten years old Sol visited a Shrike temple and asked a priest to help explain Rachel’s condition. The priest, once informed of Rachel’s experience, told Sol to leave. “Your daughter has been chosen by the Avatar to atone in a way which all sinners and nonbelievers must someday suffer. Someday very soon.”
Sol went to Shrike Temples throughout the Web and was refused by them all. When Rachel was four-years old Sarai visited her home and was killed in an EMV accident.
Sol continued to care for Rachel. When Rachel was twelve-weeks old he appeared on Devon Whitshire’s show “Common Talk.” They pleaded for everyone to call their planetary representatives and their local Church of the Shrike temples and ask for passage of Sol and Rachel to go to Hyperion. Arrangements were made and they booked travel on the Yggdrasill treeship when Rachel was seven-weeks old.
On the wind wagon everyone was silent. Martin Silenus closed his eyes and said:
”Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
It was “A Prayer for My Daughter” by William Butler Yeats.
Suddenly the sky lit up with explosions. The Ouster scouts had destroyed the treeship Yggdrasill. The Consul took first watch and everyone else slept.
At sunrise, Hoyt discovered the Templar Voice of the Tree Het Masteen gone and blood covered his room. They all searched the ship but could not find him.
The windwagon delivered the six to Pilgrim’s Rest. There Kassad started the tram and they were underway for another twelve-hour trip up through the mountains.
It was Brawne Lamia’s turn to tell her tale.
Brawne Lamia is a private detective. She told of a new client named Johnny. He said he was a cybrid and someone had killed him. He had lost five days of memory. He wanted her to find out who killed him. He had obviously restored himself but lacking those memories were very difficult for him. Johnny told her he was killed by a weapon called the AIDS II virus. In less than a second the virus enters the AI and turns phagocyte programs against the AI. He took her to Madhya where he woke up from his death. Madhya was not officially in the Web yet. The scene was desolate. A yellow-brown sky, gray ground, no sign of life, the area smelled like rotten eggs.
Johnny knew he had farcasted from Tau Ceti Center. TC squared was the city’s nickname. They had beer and the cybrid told Lamia his function was to observe and react to humans. He had been human once. He described himself as an Old Earth poet born A.D. 1795 as John Keats. They made him from a personality retrieval program.
Brawne followed Johnny after they had separated. He ate Chinese food and went home. She then went to see an AI expert BB Surbringer, an old college acquaintance. BB told her cybrids were disappearing. Until recently, there were about a thousand licensed cybrids. Now about two-thirds have been recalled by the AIs and destroyed. No one knows why the AIs do what they do.
BB told Brawne personality retrieval was washed-out because the cybrid becomes self-aware and knows it is artificial. This caused the person/cybrid to go crazy. BB said he had studied a John Keats persona and that cybrid existed some fifty years ago. He died a real sim death of tuberculosis. Johnny had told Brawne that the 1795 John Keats had died in 1821 of tuberculosis.
Johnny was attacked by two men so Brawne decided he should stay with her.
They came up with a plan and in doing so she found the Lusus man with the pony tail. This was one of the men who had attempted to kidnap Johnny. She chased him through many portals and on many worlds. She finally felled him and he burned up before her eyes. By this time she knew law enforcement would be called. She mounted an antique water vehicle, collected the others and took off into the great lake or ocean. She was lost. Suddenly her comlink activated and it was Johnny. He located her and told her where an underwater portal was located. When she came through Johnny was waiting for her. She recognized the Roman Coliseum of Old Earth and a reconstruction of the city of Rome. He told her it was Old Earth reconstructed in the Hercules Cluster. Johnny did not know why the TechnoCore built the replica.
They retreated to an apartment and Johnny told Brawne the Queque she chased was a cybrid. The self-destruction she witnessed is how the cybrid rids the body.
The TechnoCore consists of AIs. They have nothing to do
with humans. The TechnoCore always knows where Johnny is located. The
Web authorities cannot keep track of him. Johnny said violence is not
tolerated in the Core. The TechnoCore wants to create the Ultimate Intelligence.
They took the EMV the men had arrived in and flew to New York City and landed. There they farcasted to the Shrike Temple on Lusus. They met the bishop and he told them Johnny had made arrangements for a church-sponsored pilgrimage to Hyperion with the Templar that is now dead. Johnny couldn’t remember this. The bishop said the treeship would leave in nine days and they needed to know as soon as possible if Johnny was going.
They showed Johnny and Brawne a video of Johnny and his bodyguard the Templar asking to go on the pilgrimage.
They left the temple. Johnny recited a poem and told Brawne what it meant. He now knew he wanted to become a man. He asked Brawne to go to Hyperion with him and she agreed.
First, Brawne went to see Meina Gladstone, the CEO of the Senate and All Thing. Gladstone had worked for Brawne’s father when he was a Senator. Gladstone told Brawne the Time Tombs would soon be full and that a war was about to break with the Ousters. Also there was a connection between the TechnoCore and the Ousters.
Johnny and Brawne decided to find out why the Core was so interested in Hyperion so they went to see BB. Johnny was ready to become human and disconnect from the Core. Brawne kissed Johnny and told BB she wanted to connect with the dataplane to be with Johnny. BB, Brawne and Johnny were in the datumplane. Then Johnny the cybrid died. BB carried Brawne through torrents of data highways. The noise and the light were unbearable. Brawne felt she was sinking deep in blackness then she felt Johnny’s presence. She awoke on the console with Johnny helping her to leave. BB’s head had exploded and white ooze was seeping out. His eyes were melted.
Johnny explained to Brawne later that BB was brilliant but couldn’t out fight the Core’s omega phages. BB is now a legend.
Johnny told Brawne why the Core is obsessed with Hyperion. The TechnoCore has been divided into three groups since it came into existence. The first group is the Stables who want to maintain a symbiosis between the Core and humanity. The second group is the Volatiles who were behind the secession three centuries ago. The Volatiles advocate immediate and total human extinction because humans pose a threat to the Core. The third group is between the Stables and the Volatiles called the Ultimates. For five centuries the Ultimates have been obsessed with the Ultimate Intelligence Project.
Historically the Ultimates believe the extinction or existence of humans was only important in how it applies to the UI Project. Recently the Ultimates have moved toward the Volatiles. They discovered the Time Tombs were launched backwards in time from ten thousand years in the future. They also cannot factor the Hyperion variable.
The AI Advisory Council to the All Thing is a joke. They tell the Hegemony things that serve the Core’s purpose and especially pleases the Ultimates.
As a nonfactorable variable, Hyperion is exempt from the laws of physics, history, human psychology and the Core’s AI prediction.
There are two futures. One is the Volatiles from the future release an attack by the Shrike now. The second reality is the humans use the Shrike against the Volatiles. Of course there are only a few humans left after the Volatiles extinction programs. Those humans would be comprised of the Ousters, ex-colonials and small bands of survivors.
Johnny explained the lack of success he was at being Keats in the personality regeneration program gave the Stables reason to keep him around. Once he had decided to go to Hyperion, the Volatiles had him killed. Since his second decision to go, the Volatiles have failed to kill him so far. The Volatiles failed to kill Johnny because they didn’t believe he would put all his consciousness in his cybrid nor that Johnny would incorporate Brawne’s help.
Brawne touched her head where she thought she had a laceration but instead she found a neural shunt socket. Johnny had it installed. He said it may be the only way to save both of their lives. He had a Schron disk implanted in her so he could transmit large amounts of data. They purchased weapons and body armor and left for the Shrike Temple on Lusus.
They were attacked by a small army just before they were inside the Temple. Brawne decimated them but not before Johnny was fatally wounded. Before he died he touched her shunt and everything that was John Keats entered into her.
It took two weeks in a Shrike Temple recovery center to heal all of her burns and wounds. She knew she was pregnant. As she was carried through the temple to the recovery center hundreds of Shrike priests, acolytes, exorcists, ostiaries and worshipers chanted:
“BLESSED BE SHE
She still doesn’t understand the chant but knows when the Shrike arrive her and Johnny will face it together.
Sad King Billy’s androids built the Chronos Keep in eight years. It was huge, ornate and deserted. Sad King Billy built it as the jump off point for the Time Tombs as the greatest tourist resort on the Web.
The pilgrims settled for the night at the Chronos Keep. Above them the Ousters were attacking the FORCE and brilliant explosions lit the sky.
The poet’s smart comments were shut down not only by Brawne but also by the Consul.
The Consul played a recording and said afterwards he would have more to say.
The recording was of a young man Merin who was pausing on a hillside before he went up to his wife Siri’s tomb.
Merin talks about how he took leave from his ship the Los Angeles to Maui-Covenant where he met Siri. She was sixteen at their first meeting and twenty-seven at their second meeting. For Merin only nine months had elapsed. He tells of the time he spent with her on one of the moving islands and they talked to the dolphins. The dolphins told Merin they missed the sharks from Old Earth.
Merin’s friend and fellow shipmate Mike were partying at the annual festival on Maui-Covenant. Merin was with Siri. Mike was with some girls when he was accosted by a Separationist who recognized Mike as part of the Hegemony FORCE. Mike was pierced by a sword before anyone knew what happened. Merin tried to get Mike to his ship but when Siri landed her skimmer where they had left their backpack the Hawking mat and communicators were gone. He could not save Mike.
Merin would come back to see Siri every nine months or so. His final visit he was twenty-three and she was seventy as she aged almost ten years for each of Merin’s nine months.
In all he had spent one hundred and three days with her. His current visit was shocking because he did not know until he got off his ship she had been dead for two years. He found the tomb empty and his forty-three year old son told him she had her ashes thrown over the sea. She had left a box for him in the tomb. It held the Hawking mat that was gone from his backpack when Mike had died.
Merin put a diskey in a comlog and Siri was before him. She spoke to him from age 16 and age 27 and he loved her.
Merin took the Hawking mat and box out of the tomb. There he witnessed a huge explosion where he blew up the farcaster unit. He also saw the Los Angeles move so it would not be destroyed in the decaying black hole. Merin flew on the mat to the farthest island where he talked to the Sea Folk, the dolphins and he told them of Siri.
The Consul told his group Merin Aspic died during Siri’s Rebellion. The Consul knows this because he is Merin’s grandson. He was nine years old the day on the hill. When the Consul was twenty, Merin came to him and forbade him to fight. The Consol told them he went to work for the Hegemony and how he saw the decimation of alien life forms on planet after planet. The Hegemony viewed any intelligent species as a threat. That is why they killed the dolphins on Maui-Covenant. The Consul took his wife and son and lived on Bressia. There the Ousters attacked and Kassad moved in. His wife died in the initial Ouster attack. His son also was killed by a FORCE booby trap.
The Consul was promoted to negotiate with the Ousters. The Consul conferred with Senator Gladstone. The plan was to provoke the Ousters into attacking using Hyperion as the key.
Gladstone set the Consul up in a private ship and was eventually caught by the Ousters. The Ousters decided not to kill him but to negotiate with him. The Consul told them the Hegemony’s plan. The Ousters fled Old Earth four and a half centuries earlier. They told the Consul the Big Mistake of ’38 was planned by the TechnoCore and the Hegemony. They had planned for a black hole to plunge into Earth. Now the Ousters were the next species marked for extinction by the Hegemony who was dominated by the TechnoCore.
The Consul told Gladstone that the Ousters knew her plan but were coming for Hyperion anyway. He told her that the Ousters would make him Consul of Hyperion. The Consul did not tell her they had promised to give him a devise which would open the Time Tombs and give the Shrike free rein.
After Gladstone and the FORCE were assured the Consul was telling the truth they let the Consul take his private spacecraft and go to Hyperion. There the Consul governed Hyperion, drank at Cicero’s and waited.
The TechnoCore manages the farcasters. The Ousters do not have farcasters but they have learned much about space/time.
The Ousters believed the Time Tombs were from their future. The Shrike was a tool of human devising sent back through time to deliver humanity from the TechnoCore. They were very concerned that releasing the Shrike on the Web would cause billions of deaths. Once released, it will take a year for the Tombs to open. Once released there is no going back. After understanding the device the Consul killed the three Ousters who had given him the information. He then activated the devise. The Consul told the Ousters there had been an accident and the three Ousters were killed and the devise had been activated. They offered him refuge but he declined and took his private spacecraft.
The Consul told Gladstone the Ouster agents were dead and their attack on Hyperion was going to happen. He did not tell Gladstone about activating the devise. He then flew to another nearby planet for solitude.
Now the Consul told the group, “A plague on both your houses!” (Romeo and Juliet, Scene I, Mercutio) He no longer cares what happens to him. He just wants people to remember Old Earth, the dolphins and the way it should have been. Siri’s dream.
They all slept that night. It was the first time in many years the Consul had no problem in falling asleep.
That morning they were up an hour before dawn and walked
down the 650 steps to the moors. They walked over dunes and upon their
approach to the Time Tombs they walked abreast singing “We’re
off to see the Wizard.”
by Andy Freede
The Earth has been gone for centuries, destroyed in an apparent scientific accident, and humanity has spread across the galaxy to hundreds of different habitable planets.
Intergalactic war is about to erupt on the outback world of Hyperion between the Hegemony, which is the primary government, and the Ousters, who are a band of outsiders, evolved over the centuries in zero gravity into a nearly different species altogether.
Hyperion is the home of the mysterious and deadly Shrike. History contains a spotty record of the Shrike, and no photographic evidence, as very few people who have seen them live to tell the tale. The Shrike have their own cult following, and pilgrims regularly travel to Hyperion on a path to the equally mysterious Time Tombs to sacrifice themselves to these Shrike. With the advent of war threatening to destroy the planet, the Hegemony and the Church of the Shrike have authorized one final pilgrimage to the Time Tombs, with seven hand-picked participants.
Sound like a lot of detail to absorb? That is just the Prologue.
As the seven final pilgrims make their journey to Hyperion and the Time Tombs, one by one they each tell the tale of how the Shrike have personally impacted their lives.
The Catholic Priest lost his friend and mentor on the planet. In the course of investigating the death, this priest uncovers the horrific details and becomes inexorably fused with Hyperion and the Shrike, enough to destroy the very faith upon which he has based his life.
The Soldier owes much of his military success to a woman that he never met outside of dreams and virtual reality simulations. Never, until he crash lands on Hyperion near the Time Tombs.
The Poet finds his muse by helping to found a colony of artists on Hyperion, until that muse turns deadly.
The Scholar rarely left the confines of the college campus in which he taught, until his only daughter travels to Hyperion on an archaeological study of the Time Tombs. Her encounter with the Shrike left her alive, but forever changed.
The Starship Captain knows more than he is willing to tell.
The Detective is investigating the murder of one of her clients. The course of her investigation will reveal information that was better left hidden.
The Consul seems to be the perfect government tool. Yet, hidden beneath the surface, he has his own agenda. Will his actions open Pandora’s Box?
The pilgrims’ tales wrap up just in time for the end of the journey, and journey’s end is a bit surreal.
Each of these individual tales are an engrossing novella on their own.
Put them all together, and you have a complex look into the future of
Humanity, and how we might handle the monumental task of colonizing a
strange and hostile galaxy.
The seven pilgrims:
Paul Dure’ – priest who lives with the Bikura
Bikura – tribe on Hyperion
Moneta – Kassad’s lover
Sad King Billy – philanthropist to the arts
Sarai Weintraub – Sol’s wife
Johnny – cybrid, Brawne's lover
Meina Gladstone – Senator and CEO of the Hegemony