This week Danielle brings the 1998 Danielle Steel novel The Klone and I: A High Tech Love Story. Stephanie is your average middle-age mother of two whose husband is a complete tool and decides to divorce her for petty reasons. Luckily, Steph is not one to be kept down, and during a brief trip to Europe she bumps into Peter, who works in bionics. That tidbit will become very important later. Anyway, Steph and Peter start to date seriously, ever her kids are generally on board. However, it’s not long before the unthinkable happens: Peter has to go on a business trip for two weeks. During his first night away, Steph is surprised to see a very strangely dressed Peter show up at her apartment. Peter insists he’s actually Peter’s robot clone and prefers to go by Paul Klone, a name that nearly breaks Sam. Steph decides this is some elaborate joke, even after some surprisingly acrobatic sex and a call from an out-of-town Peter explaining he sent his clone over because he couldn’t fathom her being alone for two entire weeks. Our baffled hosts draw two conclusions from this: First, that Peter has a very low opinion of Steph and maybe all women, and Second, Steph does not seem to be all that bright. Eventually, Steph comes around to the idea that she’s also dating Peter’s significantly more outgoing clone, or klone if you will. Sam will not. Steph is mildly torn between her love of Peter and the excitement of Paul, and yet no one seems concerned that this supposed top secret prototype robot clone is running amuck, stealing Peter’s credit card, crashing his car, and flying across the country to surprise Steph whenever Peter’s out of town. Sam finds it difficult to care about the perfunctory love triangle when the facts of the clone gets virtually no attention. So join us this week for a book that is amazingly at once completely goofy and also, somehow, far too serious.
This week Sam brings us part four of Dan Simmons’ 1996 book Endymion. It’s been a while, but we’re back with more Hyperion! It’s been so long, in fact, that Danielle has completely forgotten everything that happened in the previous episode including the title, though to be fair, there wasn’t really all that much going on. Raul, Aenea and A. Bettik are all trapped on some mysterious jungle world after barely escaping the Pax by fleeing through the hitherto non-functional Farcaster portal. The Shrike makes a brief cameo, but immediately leaves without dropping any sick beats, which is a huge disappointment. Aenea and crew decide to raft down the river to the next Farcaster, which gives Raul time to feel paternal towards Aenea, which is just all kinds of gross given what we know of their future. They get caught in a storm and “Yee-haw!” a bit, as you do, before finally ending up through the other portal and onto Mare Infinitus. Their big plan is to drift aimlessly across the infinite ocean and hope they come across the next Farcaster portal. Infuriatingly, this works. However, Raul needs to make a brief detour to distract some nearby Pax so they can sneak by. Meanwhile, Father-Captain de Soya and his crew spend two months hopping around to eight different planets, and Sam insists on telling Danielle about each one, even if they don’t matter, because he loves sharing the pain. Eventually, de Soya comes to Mare Infinitus where he hears about an attack a few months ago by a single man. This, de Soya correctly concludes, was Raul, and he’s delighted to have his first lead in months. Unfortunately, Raul was killed in the attack, or at least the book tries to make it look that way, but since Raul is the one “writing” the book, it’s not much of a fake-out. So join us as we delve deep into the relationship between Raul and Aenea, and into more Keats poetry and philosophy (finally!), and, most importantly, try to find out just why we’re being told about those fly-cycles!
We’re back in record time with part three of the 1996 Dan Simmons novel Hyperion. Danielle makes a much better showing this time, recapping the previous episode with aplomb. After letting Aenea escape after emerging from the Time Tombs, Father Captain de Soya is regrouping in the Parvati system with his Swiss Guard commandos to capture Aenea when she arrives. During the journey, Aenea and Raul spend some quality, and slightly creepy, time together. Skinny dipping is involved. Anyway, Aenea essentially improvises a plan where she threatens to kill everyone on her ship if de Soya doesn’t let her escape. Not willing to risk it, de Soya agrees, but then just tracks them to their next destination in Renaissance Vector, a heavily fortified Pax world, so it doesn’t seem like much was accomplished by this whole gambit. While waiting again for their arrival, de Soya starts having dreams about Aenea as his daughter, and this is where Danielle starts feeling completely over this whole story. Really, it only gets more infuriating from there, as the method in which the ragtag crew lead by a child escape yet again is absolute nonsense. It may be short, but this episode is especially dense with nonsense, raising perhaps the biggest question of the series so far: How the heck is the river Tethys still flowing?
After a spooky hiatus, Sam is back with more of the 1996 novel Endymion. The biggest fallout for Sam’s diversion into Slugs is that poor Danielle is left completely unable to recall anything that happened in the first part of Endymion. Luckily, not much went down, so it’s on to part two! Father Captain de Soya has returned to Pacem, and after a brief resurrection and Mass, he meets with some of the top brass of the Church. He’s informed that the Pax somehow knows that Brawne’s daughter Aenea is scheduled to emerge from the Time Tombs in the near future. De Soya is tasked to retrieve the child when she appears, or pursue the child wherever she goes until he does capture her, and then return her to Pacem. De Soya is assured that no harm will come to her, only that she will be saved. Despite finding that not so reassuring, de Soya heads out to take command of Pax forces to capture a child. Back in Endymion, Endymion (the person) is back from exploring the city. During dinner, Martin assures Raul that he’s going to be grossly outmatched and outgunned in his attempt to rescue Aenea. However, Martin has a secret weapon, that just happens to be the same secret weapon that always appears: the old Hawking mat! So Raul grabs his apparently essential tricorn hat, hops on the mat, and speeds through the labyrinth to sneak into Time Tomb valley. In the valley itself, de Soya readies his troops as a massive sandstorm rolls in, which can only mean one thing: DJ Shrike is on his way! So the big questions remain: Will Raul rescue Aenea? Can they escape the Pax? Will Danielle remember any of this next time? Hopefully we’ll find out!
This week Sam takes us back to Hyperion with the1996 Dan Simmons novel Endymion. Hyperion is back and Danielle is thrilled! Picking up around 274 years after the conclusion of the previous book, Endymion opens with some narration by a man named, wait for it, Raul Endymion. We learn that Raul grew up on Hyperion, did a bunch of odd jobs, and eventually ended up leading a duck hunting expedition that went disastrously wrong. Raul is blamed for the temporary deaths (remember those cruciform parasites? They’re back in a big way!) of the people he was leading on the hunt and is sentenced to death. However, just as he is about to be executed by just one of many overly complicated death machines to appear in this book, he is in fact only rendered unconscious. It’s also important to note that in the years since the “Fall” a new theocratic government has taken over lead by the Catholic Church and based around the gift of immortal life via the cruciform parasites which they now control. When Raul wakes up, he’s in the ruined city of Endymion (yup, it’s a city too!) and, notably, not executed. He is soon brought to see the nearly mummified, but still living, poet Martin Silenus who wants to give him a job. Brawne Lamia’s daughter, the One who Teaches, disappeared into the Sphinx Time Tomb when she was 12, over 260 years ago. Somehow, Martin knows she’s scheduled to emerge in just a few days and wants Raul to retrieve her and keep her safe from the Church and its military arm the Pax, who also somehow know this schedule and want to kill or capture her. Speaking of, Father-Captain Federico de Soya is pulled off his task-force hunting Ousters (still considered an enemy) to engage in some secret mission of the utmost importance. If you’re feeling lost in all of this, you should probably go back and listen to all the Hyperion episodes again; it won’t help, but they’re pretty fun!
Check out Sam and Danielle on the Mind Duck Books podcast episode about the Fall of Hyperion. Find Mind Duck Books on Twitter @mindduckbooks, Instagram @mindduckbooks, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.
This week Danielle brings the 1997 Annette Curtis Klause novel Blood and Chocolate. It’s not even Spook Retorts yet and Danielle is bringing the werewolves! Vivian is your average teenage werewolf who just moved to a new town because her family was chased away from their previous home by an angry mob that burned down their home and killed a bunch of her pack, all because the group of teenage boys in her pack had been murdering a few of the people in that town; total overreaction. Anyway, since her dad was the pack leader (don’t worry, Sam doesn’t let that bad wolf science slide) they pack needs to pick a new one, and the expected top dog (ha!) is Gabriel, who’s also dating Vivian’s mother. As for herself, Vivian has a picture she made published in the school journal next to a story by some boy named Aiden about transforming into a wolf. Vivian is disappointed to learn that Aiden isn’t another werewolf, just a nerd who dresses like a hippie, but Vivian decides to date him anyway, much to the dismay of her pack and especially Gabriel who, in addition to dating her mother, is also kinda into her, and it’s all kinds of gross. The other problem is the teenage boys in her pack are still up to their shenanigans and not at all regretful about all the murder, so we’re sure that won’t cause any problems. Finally, in Sam’s favorite scene, Vivian decides to reveal her wolf side to Aiden and it does not go well. Distraught, Vivian blacks out from having wolfed-out too hard and wakes up the next day to learn there’s been a murder. Afraid she’s losing control, and might cause her family to be uprooted again at the very least, Vivian starts to panic. But first, she stalks her ex and then trashes the room of his new maybe-girlfriend, because teenagers. So we hope you enjoy this very out of season spooky book where the scariest part about it is the patriarchy.
This week Danielle concludes the Janie series with the 2013 Caroline B. Cooney novel Janie Face to Face. Janie is headed off to college and wants to use that as an opportunity to assert her independence from her family. She does this by only going back to stay with her family every weekend. Also, Janie’s Connecticut parents are now in assisted living since her father is not doing well after the stroke he had in the last book and they somehow lost all their vast wealth. Janie decides that’s a good enough reason to start distancing herself from them. At the same time, we’re introduced to Hannah and are gifted little vignettes that tell the story of how she kidnapped Janie. This sections are not kind to Hannah, and also amazingly bonkers. Meanwhile, at school, Janie meats a new boy, Mike Hastings, who quickly reveals himself to be an absolute creeper. However, Janie decides that’s all fine until she learns that Mike has been working with a supposed true crime writers to investigate her life for his latest book. In what might be her only good decision in this book, she dumps his butt. However, the rest of her family is still receiving solicitations from the writer, and some of them seem far more willing to talk than Janie is. In another disturbing trend, Stephen and Janie both reunite with their terrible exes, Kathleen and Reeve respectively. In a spur-of-the-moment decision at Janie’s departure from a visit, Reeve proposes by shouting his request across the airport (romantic) and Janie actually says yes. Wild. Anyway, it soon becomes clear that the person behind the book, and the investigation, into Janie’s life is not what he seems to be, and the revelation has the potential to upend Janie’s life forever (but it definitely won’t).
This week Danielle brings back the game But What Do They Think, where she presents reviews to Sam and he tries to guess what media piece they’re about. It goes about as you’d expect, which is to say it’s a struggle, but the real gold is all the amazing, actual reviews Danielle managed to find. So enjoy as we review the reviews!
This week Danielle has devised a game to test how well our hosts remember the media they’ve already shared. With the task to summarize their media piece in one minute or less, it’s no surprise that things go hilariously wrong as Danielle and Sam struggle to recall even the most basic details about pieces they spent hours talking about.
Check out Danielle and Sam as they join Dustin for the I know What You Did episode of the excellent Rewatch Recap podcast. Find it on Twitter @dustin_holden, Instagram @therewatchrecap, and wherever you get your podcasts.
This week Danielle is back to finish (kind of) the Janie series with the 2000 Caroline B. Cooney book What Janie Found. Janie’s back and more teen than ever! While rifling through her father’s office (he had a heart attack/stroke, don’t worry about it) she comes across a folder labeled “HJ” and immediately concludes it has something to do with Hannah. Also, Reeve is back in her life, trying just so hard to get back into her good graces, which, for some reason, she is allowing him to do. Reeve notices Janie looking at the folder but wisely decides not to pry this time since he’s still on thin ice. Janie discovers a checkbook in the folder and deduces that her father (the Connecticut one) has been sending money to his estranged daughter, and Janie is not on board with this. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Stephen is dating a girl named Kathleen who’s father just happens to have been in the FBI, and they are both super interested in the Janie kidnapping story, to a degree that is problematic. They grill Stephen about the story over dinner and this is in no way foreshadowing for how terrible they are. Janie, meanwhile, discovers that the checks her father was writing are being sent to, of all places, Colorado, so she concocts a plan to go there on the pretense of visiting Stephen, but with the intention of tracking down Hannah to get some answers. This is obviously a terrible plan, so of course her brother Brian and freaking Reeve come along. Unrelated, but Janie is also a bridesmaid in Reeve’s sister’s, Lizzie the Lawyer’s, wedding for reasons that are dumb. Anyway, in Colorado, Janie waffles on whether to leave a note for Hannah in the PO box, and in the meantime Kathleen, encouraged by her father, grills Janie about her experience as a “kidnapette”, and that term tells you all you really need to know about Kathleen and her father as people. The question remains: Will Janie confront Hannah and finally get the therapy she so desperately needs? All we can say is that there’s actually a fifth book, surprise!