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General SF&F discussion > Hyperion and Time Debt

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Theshaner | 2 comments Is there anyone out there who has read the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons that can explain the concept of Time Debt to me? I am almost done with the 4th book and still dont get it. I understand that the ships are moving faster than the speed of light, but do not understand what they mean when they are saying that ship time is 2 weeks with a 10 month time debt.

By the way, incredible series if anyone hasn't read it.


Random (rand0m1s) | 394 comments I haven't read the books, but the fact that they're going faster than light means that time passes slower on ship than it does outside.

My guess would be, using your example, that 2 weeks worth of time have passed for the people on ship while outside the ship 10 months have gone by.

Just a guess. Someone who has read the books might be able to give a more accurate answer.


Phoenixfalls | 187 comments Random's got it.


Shel (shel99) | 944 comments Random wrote: "I haven't read the books, but the fact that they're going faster than light means that time passes slower on ship than it does outside.

My guess would be, using your example, that 2 weeks worth of..."


Yep, what Random said.

And I cannot even put into words how much I love those books. :) So glad to see that someone else is enjoying them too!


Joseph Lewis (josephrobertlewis) Random is correct. Time slows down as you approach the speed of light.

So imagine you're planning a vacation to Space Vegas. On January 1, you hop into your FTL sports car and drive to the hotel near the speed of light. When you arrive, your in-car calendar says it is January 14 but the hotel's calendar says it is October 1. Both are correct.

You've only experienced 2 weeks of time in the car, but the rest of the universe has experienced 10 months of time.

In a society like the one in Hyperion, your birthday no longer has any bearing on your age. A 25-year-old person might have been born 50 years ago, but spent a cumulative 25 relative years traveling near light speed. Thus, the time debt.


message 6: by Kevin (last edited Jan 21, 2011 04:55PM) (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 360 comments Theshaner wrote: "Is there anyone out there who has read the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons that can explain the concept of Time Debt to me? I am almost done with the 4th book and still dont get it. I understand t..."

You could wait untill the SciFic & Fantasy club disscus the book. They are suppose to read the book in February.


Theshaner | 2 comments Shel wrote: "Random wrote: "I haven't read the books, but the fact that they're going faster than light means that time passes slower on ship than it does outside.

My guess would be, using your example, that 2..."


Shel, seeing as how you liked this series as I did, maybe you could make a recommendation on what I should read next. I am nearing the end of the 4th book and don't have any clue as to how I am going to find another book that can help to fill the void in my life that will be there after there is no more Hyperion ... I have read everything by koontz, clive barker, most king, all jim butcher to name most of my focus. Any ideas would be appreciated!


Paul 'Pezski' Perry (Pezter) | 134 comments Theshaner wrote: "I am nearing the end of the 4th book and don't have any clue as to how I am going to find another book that can help to fill the void in my life that will be there after there is no more Hyperion"

if i may jump in with a suggestion? if you've been enjoying the space operatics then you might like Iain M. Banks - my personal faves are Look To Windward and Use of Weapons - as well as Alastair Reynolds, starting with Revelation Space


Shel (shel99) | 944 comments Theshaner wrote: "Shel, seeing as how you liked this series as I did, maybe you could make a recommendation on what I should read next. I am nearing the end of the 4th book and don't have any clue as to how I am going to find another book that can help to fill the void in my life that will be there after there is no more Hyperion ... I have read everything by koontz, clive barker, most king, all jim butcher to name most of my focus. Any ideas would be appreciated!"

Let's see, if you want to stick with SF, I'd recommend Vernor Vinge's A Fire upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky (Deepness is a prequel to Fire and comes first chronologically, but I think they can best be appreciated in publication order so I'd read Fire first). I also recommend Eifelheim by Michael Flynn and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, both are first contact novels but aside from that common thread they're completely different from each other.


Joseph Lewis (josephrobertlewis) For hard science fiction with great characters, I recommend Michael Flynn's The Wreck of The River of Stars


Jim Mcclanahan (clovis-man) | 252 comments Joseph wrote: "For hard science fiction with great characters, I recommend Michael Flynn's The Wreck of The River of Stars"

The blurb on this book puts me in mind of Andre Norton's The Solar Queen. I'm just starting on the first tale. From 1955 and certainly not hard SF, but definitely a space opera in the classic mold. May have to give Flynn a try.


Lou (loumassignani) | 1 comments I know this is an old topic guys, but I have a question about your explanation of the time debt. If what you say is true, then why do the passengers have to go into cryo freeze.


Ken (ogi8745) | 894 comments Because distances in the universe are HUGE so even thought you travel close to the speed of light it still takes years and years to get there, then you have food and water. Easier to freeze people.


Machiel Van rheenen | 1 comments hi,

Ok this is a reeeeallly long time after the last post.
Considering the topic i guess its understandable. Perhaps even, I have been typing soo fast that for me it was only mintues but for you. Years =)

Anyhoe...

I understand the einsteinian concept as described above. But I think in the hyperion series it worked differently, although i dont understand myself anymore. Ill have to reread them again i guess (wohoo!)

I came to this conclusion on the dicision to send all the web based defense force to intercept the, so called, ouster invasion. If time debt was einsteinian it would matter to speed there FTL. If the troops got there in 2 month with. 20 years time debt. That would mean they would actually only arrive there in.. 20 years from the perspective of the web worlds. They only experienced 2 months but they would be 19 years and 10 month late for the war.
So why bother?
I thought they could actually get there in 2 months but somehow suffered from the time debt in another way as well.

My brain is too puny to grasp this for sure. But if someone can explain to me what actually went on, be it fiction or not, ill be very happy.

Highest regards, Mac

P.s. If youndidnt know there is a great short story in Lands enough and time that follows up on the hyperion line.
Also olympus is also great!


Kammera Rice | 19 comments Theshaner wrote: "Is there anyone out there who has read the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons that can explain the concept of Time Debt to me? I am almost done with the 4th book and still dont get it. I understand t..."

Oh Yeah! LOVED those books!


Ken (ogi8745) | 894 comments Machiel
You are correct the first time

From the point of view on the outside it takes 20 years. Inside only 2 months pass by.
As for why bother, you are correct.
Thats the biggest problem with Eisenstein space. How do you keep in contact with your colonies.


message 17: by Karolis (last edited Nov 10, 2013 03:30AM) (new)

Karolis Januševičius The time "slows down" as you travel at speeds close to light, however, wouldn't traveling faster than light result in you traveling back in time?

If I'm not mistaken there are two ways of traveling in Hyperion universe, one is the Hawking drive, which I think is not faster than light, but has a speed very close to it so the time dilation phenomenon applies. Time debt emerges only during this traveling method.

Then there is instant "farcaster" travel and instant "fatline" communication, but it only works in-between different webworlds (this is probably based on wormhole theories). So the way I understand, for shorter distances almost the speed of light fast Hawking Drive is used which results in time debt (less time passes inside the ship than outside) while instant FTL travel is used for longer distances.


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Books mentioned in this topic

Look to Windward (other topics)
Use of Weapons (other topics)
Revelation Space (other topics)
A Deepness in the Sky (other topics)
Eifelheim (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Iain Banks (other topics)
Alastair Reynolds (other topics)