Hyperion Cantos: The Most Terrifying Creature In Science Fiction

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Warning! Some book spoilers! It has often been said that nature is cruel. All life on Earth is believed to have evolved from the same single-celled organism. Over the course of Billion years those single cells, diversified, multiplied, became multiple celled organisms, developed organs, bones, and limbs. Life eventually filled every niche on the planet, each species learning to survive in its own way while constantly being tested by mother nature. But the cruelest fact about life has always been that in order to survive it must feed upon itself. Life consumes life. And there are many ways of doing it.

A butcherbird is a type of bird found mostly in African and Eurasian countries. It is a type of bird known as a Shrike. Once a Shrike captures its prey it impales the body upon sharp thorns or spikes. This allows the Shrike to bit by bit, tear the flesh from the creature it has captured, eating it in small chunks. These birds are also known to be territorial, they defended their claimed areas against rivals. The Idea of a Shrike has been used in fiction multiple times. But Dan Simmons’ Hyperion in my opinion makes the most interesting use of the attributes of the Shrike bird, within a fictional creature.

Cover art by: François Baranger
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