- If you click through to Variety, be warned that their plot description is woefully inadequate. In particular, their deadpan reference to "a monster called the Shrike, which impales people on metal trees" is the rough equivalent of describing HAL 9000 as "a computer that locks people out of spaceships" -- accurate, but pointlessly so. The nature of the Shrike is a whole lot more interesting than that.
- Since Simmons novels are among my favorite works of literature (and I teach literature for a living), I am certainly apprehensive about any potential adaptation, particularly one that will reduce two enormous novels into a 2-3 hour movie. I'm guessing the project's screwed from the get-go.
Hyperion is set in the distant (~700 years) future, where humans are spread out in the "Hegemony of Man" amongst many connected worlds in the "Web". "Old Earth" (meaning our Earth) no longer exists, thanks to the "Big Mistake". Yeah, oops. Anyway, seven pilgrims are set on a voyage to see The Shrike, the aforementioned killing machine. What follows are the backstories of the seven pilgrims, told by each, as they set about their journey. Think a giant episode of "Lost", only most of the action happens in the flashbacks.
As the flashbacks all are compelling in different ways. I was impressed and moved the way Simmons managed to take the tales, all dealing in one way or another with the Shrike, and come at it from such disparate and interesting angles. Religion, paternalism, lust, love, technology, and the supernatural are all represented, all dealt with style, wit, and often moving sequences. The science-fiction world he has created is both just a backdrop to the characters and yet wonderfully interwoven and important to the fabric of the story. I'm really quite astounded by the breadth of emotion and topic covered in this setup story.
And it is a setup. Hyperion is about the journey, about how they got there, not about what happens next. (That's Fall of Hyperion, the conclusion.) If you haven't figured out this is already one of my top-ten favorite books ever, then I'll just confirm that now.
That all said, you should go and read it rather than wait for the film. Films? Nope, just one:
- Today we got word that Warner Bros. has greenlit a single-film adaptation of the first two books (Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion). It's to be written by Trevor Sands, about whom we know very little except that he is apparently working on a number of different sci-fi projects in various stages of development. Making the two novels into one movie makes sense in a way, since they really comprise one story and the ending of Hyperion is an enormous cliffhanger. On the other hand, the books are so huge in scope and contain so many different perspectives (Simmons claims to have been inspired by The Canterbury Tales) that they seem better suited for a season of a TV show with each episode focusing on a different character. According to the Variety piece, Sands plans to take "a selective approach to the two novels' multiple points of view in a way that manage[s] to coherently and unconfusingly tell the story." Uh, I guess we'll see about that.