A rather peculiar mode of transportation from the Hyperion series, written by Dan Simmons. The hawking mat was invented by Vladimir Sholokov as a gift to his niece, with whom he was quite enamored. It is, for all intents and purposes, a flying carpet. Unlike the traditional flying carpet, however, Sholokov's functions by riding on a planet's latent electromagnetic field. It was surrounded by a weak energy cocoon to help hold the rider on the carpet and provide a windscreen.

sssh, it's from a book. It doesn't have to make perfect sense.

The hawking mat eventually became illegal on most civilized planets; turns out it was a tad dangerous. Fortunately, the technology was adapted to larger, safer vehicles capable of transporting an entire family or more.

Still, the hawking mat plays a rather important role in the Hyperion novels, both symbolic and practical. I'll let Simmons explain the symbolic meanings of the mat, but the practical benefits are pretty simple. A hawking mat has three main advantages over a full-sized ship:

  1. Its small size (and radar profile) allows it to sneak into much trickier situations - possibly involving flying through miles of mysterious underground labyrinth.
  2. It can operate on planets with far weaker EM fields than large ships require. (Most notably Hyperion itself.)
  3. How many other modes of transportation travel upwards of a hundred kilometers an hour and can be rolled up to fit inside a backpack?

Sources:The Hyperion Cantos Series
Dan Simmons. Hyperion Spectra, 1990
Dan Simmons. The Fall of Hyperion Spectra, 1991
Dan Simmons. Endymion Spectra, 1996
Dan Simmons. The Rise of Endymion Spectra, 1998