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Endymion – Part 6

It’s finally here, the finale of the 1996 Dan Simmons novel Endymion! Where we last left off, Father Captain de Soya had been called back to Pacem to receive new orders and a new crew member. It turns out the pope has been having visions from “God” that have told him the location of Aenea on Sol Draconi Septem. The pope is also declaring a crusade against the ousters, and everyone knows crusades are always a good idea. The new crew member, Rhadamanth Nemes, is a type of super solider being created for this crusade, though de Soya has reservations. Meanwhile, Raul an the others are still with Father Glaucus waiting to make their trek across the wraith infested surface to the next Farcaster portal. The Chichatuk return and they gear up, finally ready to face the wraiths (a name Danielle still has massive issues with). Anyway, they cross the surface and leave through the Farcaster never having even seen a wraith, and Sam is incoherent with frustration. Just after they leave, de Soya and his crew arrive in the system, but while he’s still resurrecting, the obviously non-human Nemes heads down to the surface to try and murder Aenea. She uses the same kind of silver skin-suit that Kassad and Moneta had, and she gets to work, murdering Glaucus and the Chichatuk, and shooting flashlight beams out of her mouth much to the delight of both our hosts. Sam is ecstatic that here, in the last part of the book, the plot has finally shown up in full force, and things only ramp up from there as the story races towards an exciting conclusion, then smashes into a wall with a bizarre coda. Honestly, it’s the best that could have been hoped for.

The Lazarus Plot

This week Danielle brings book four of the Hardy Boys Case Files series by Franklin W. Dixon from 1987: The Lazarus Plot. The Hardy Brothers are back! Joe is still sad about the expoldification of his girlfriend Iola, so he and Frank have taken a camping/fishing trip to unwind. However, it’s there in the woods that Joe sees someone who must be Iola! The Hardy Men follow the girl’s trail and come to a seemingly abandoned house that was actually the location of the Lazarus Clinic, which is occupied by the Lazarus group which has some nebulous connection to the terrorist organization The Assassins. The Hardy Duo are immediately captured and the Lazarus Leader puts on an amazing show for them where he inexplicably introduces each of his evil employees and describes their evil plot instead of, you know, killing their Hardy nemeses. Their plan is to use plastic surgery and brain chip implants to copy the Hardy Sleuths and use these bonus brothers to infiltrate the government anti-terrorist spy organization known as The Network. They revived Iola to kill the Hardy Lads, but then when they failed to kill them in the woods for reasons too dumb to elaborate on here, they decided to capture them instead for yet more reasons that make no sense and only serve to infuriate Sam. So join us for another rip-roaring Hardy adventure that’s as fun as it is stupid!

Endymion – Part 5

This week Sam brings the penultimate episode of his deep dive into the 1996 Dan Simmons novel Endymion. When we last left off, it was implied the our hero Raul was dead, thought this was obviously not the case. This part open with us learning how Raul escaped death, both at the hands of the human Pax soldiers, and the jaws of the rainbow sharks. Although well armed, Raul refuses to shoot any of them (sharks or people) but that’s okay, Aenea and A. Bettik have swum out to where Raul was drifting in the infinite ocean to save him, so no worries. The trio escapes through the Farcaster portal and find themselves on Hebron. There no signs of life, in fact it looks to have been recently abandoned in a hurry. Raul is infected with something he picked up in the ocean, so they spend a few weeks recuperating before moving on. After the next portal, they emerge in a vast, but quite sealed, cave of ice on a planet so cold that the atmosphere is broken. This about breaks the limit of Sam’s ability to suspend disbelief, and is quite angry that everyone isn’t already dead. Meanwhile, Father Captain de Soya conducts a thorough, but inconclusive, investigation on Mare Infinitus. He determines that Raul was there, and has identified him by fingerprint, but not much else. He decides it’s time for him and his crew to venture to an Ouster controlled world to find Aenea, and wouldn’t you know it, he picks Hebron. But psych! They never make it there as their ship is pursued by Ousters and makes run for it before they can be resurrected. De Soya wakes up on Pacem, where he faces a very brief inquisition before being told he’s being sent back out on his search again. Meanwhile, Raul comes up with an incredibly stupid plan to escape the ice cave that, even more incredibly, some how works. This leads to yet more dead-ends until they abandon the raft and explore the tunnels through the ice. It’s here they encounter humans living on this world, but will they be friendly or dangerous? (Friendly, immediately they are extremely friendly, sorry for the not-so-spoiler). So join us for possibly the angriest Sam has ever been at a media piece he’s presented. Fun!

The Klone and I

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.

Endymion – Part 4

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!

Endymion – Part 3

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?

Endymion – Part 2

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!

Endymion – Part 1

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.

Blood and Chocolate

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.

Janie Face to Face

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).