hyperion: the movie?

Holy Crap.

Hyperion - by Dan Simmons
Hyperion - by Dan Simmons

I guess this isn’t news… this project has been in the works for years, it turns out. But somehow it wasn’t on my radar.

The Hyperion Cantos, one of the most amazing, brilliant, Literary works of science fiction known to mankind, is being adapted to film by Warner Brothers.

Hyperion Hyperbole, you say? I think not. Hyperion investigates issues of humanity and society alongside the best of Gibson, but without the (sometimes) overly conscious punk edge that can make classic cyberpunk “too uber-cool for school”.

It creates mysterious worlds, frightening mythologies and psychological challenges for its characters, and its readers, like very little else.

It is far and away more Literary in the most fundamental sense than any of the fetishism of scientific specificity that mires the Clarkes and Asimovs and yes, occasionally, even the Heinleins of Golden Age scifi.

And its foundation in classical Literature (Hyperion is clearly modeled on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) makes it all the more rich for those with an awareness and appreciation for it (and merely having a character quote Shakespeare from time to time – hello, ST:TNG – is not the same thing).

The Hyperion Cantos is easily on par with such watershed works of scifi as Herbert’s Dune (which has yet to have a proper theatrical interpretation, though I liked the miniseries just fine), or Card’s Ender series (which is also in development with Warner Brothers)… and in many ways, most clearly stylistically, it surpasses them. And while a few scifi films have been based on the works of P.K. Dick – one of them even good (Bladerunner) – Dick’s books have dubious Literary value at best but rather are merely good ideas poorly executed.

The trick is, in the end, Hyperion is a fractured travelogue, a collection of campfire tales shared by a group of travelers quietly working their way across a dangerous planet as a war rages in space above them. The stories are intense, and fantastic, and heart wrenching, and personal. And the war, for the most part, remains in the sky as an occasional light show, reminding the group of the importance of their mission. The book has very little to do with the 3-D trickery, unfolding automotive robots and blood-thirsty aliens of typical contemporary Hollywood scifi.

But it’s this unique, sensitive, artful brilliance that will make the film profound and timeless, so long as the source is respected.

It’s being adapted by Trevor Sands, whose work I’m unfamiliar with but who seems to have written exactly one produced short and one produced feature (note to self: get feature produced).

I would love to see this done right. I’d love to see something like The Cell meets Bladerunner meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Please. Please do this one right. For me.

4 thoughts on “hyperion: the movie?

  1. Hyperion is one of the greatest sci-fi series of all-time and I am truly worried that this film will fail and ruin the masterpiece that Simmons has created.

    As you have stated, Trevor Sands will be adapting the books for the big screen. He has very little on his resume and has yet to prove himself. This isn’t necessarily terrible since there have been many writers who have been largely successful on their first few big budget films. Dan Simmons will also be assisting in the adaptation. Phew!

    My largest issue is that the first two books, ‘Hyperion’ and ‘The Fall of Hyperion,’ are being combined into one film. Is it possible to cram the intro to the pilgrimage and the fall into a two hour film? I don’t believe so.

    One saving grace may be the director, Scott Derrickson, who has directed my favorite film in the Hellraiser series, ‘Hellraiser: Inferno.’ Derrickson could possibly bring life to Hyperion and give us the Shrike we are all hoping to see. Where so many directors have failed, Derrickson did an absolutely breathtaking job portraying Pinhead. This certainly boosts my confidence in him.

    I suppose we will just have to wait and see!

  2. I also wanted to mention that Ilium and Olympus — more brilliance from Simmons — are also being combined into one film. This is more disheartening than Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, because at least Hyperion could end up being a Trilogy.

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