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.