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.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 7

This week Sam brings the culmination of six previous episodes with the final part of the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. Kassad is back and he’s ready to kick some Shrike butt! However, the Shrike is still a master of time so Kassad ends up in the distant future where he leads a band of humans against hordes of Shrike in a final battle that also determines how many Shrike get sent back in time. Also, Moneta is there and it’s her first time meeting Kassad due to time shenanigans. Back in the valley, Brawne sets off to the Time Tomb known as the Shrike Palace because her trip to the datumplane showed her that it has some connection to the Tree of Thorns. Sol goes back to the Sphinx to sit and wait for Rachel. Meanwhile, Keats/Severn has a not-very-helpful conversation with Ummon and then dies (kinda) and Leigh Hunt buries him under the watchful gaze of the Shrike (don’t ask how), and then finds himself stranded on Earth. Back with the Ousters, the Consul is informed that the Ousters are not, in fact, invading the Hegemony, it’s the TechnoCore, gasp! He’s also informed that at no point did his actions stem from freewill, but were manipulated by just everyone around him. He does not take that well. Also meanwhile, Meina Gladstone is struggling to find a path forward that doesn’t involve using the TechnoCore’s plan of a deathwand bomb that may or may not wipe out humanity (Spoiler: it probably will). that’s when the ghost consciousness of Severn/Keats decides to bop-around the datumplane/Metasphere a bit having shed his corporeal body. He takes this opportunity to get into the dreams of Meina and also His-Brand-New-As-Yet-Unnamed-Holiness Paul Duré, and give them some very cryptic information that really saves their butts. Will Meina be able to thwart the Core? Will humanity survive? How the heck does Brawne turn the Shrike to glass? Answers to two of those question, and definitely not all three, can be found in this action-packed, jumbo finale of the Fall of Hyperion! While you may be sad this is the end, Danielle could not be more stoked that it’s over.

Hyperion – Part 1 (Rerun)

Far into the future after humanity has spread through the stars to many planets, a group of seven people are tasked with undertaking a pilgrimage to the Shrike, the mysterious and deadly creature that guards the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. The Time Tombs are opening and there is also an Ouster migration cluster that is threatening to take the planet, and the secrets of the Tombs, away from the Hegemony. Thus Meina Gladstone, the CEO of the Hegemony, sends a message in a “fatline squirt” to the Consul, who is one of the pilgrims, and tells him to be on the lookout for an Ouster spy among the group. If none of that made sense to you, don’t worry, Danielle is convinced this story is perhaps the most incomprehensible one Sam has ever shared, and totally crazy to boot. Aboard a massive spaceship made from an actual, living tree, the pilgrims gather and agree to tell their stories so they can better understand why each of them was chosen for this journey. First up to share is the Catholic priest Lenar Hoyt, who tells the story of another priest, Paul Duré, who was exiled to Hyperion by the Church for falsifying data at an archaeological dig. Duré plans to study an isolated tribe on the planet, which is composed of people supposedly descended from the crew of a seedship which crashed there hundreds of years ago. To reach the village, Duré must traverse the deadly Fire Forests filled with tesla tress which both absorb and emit lightning, a phenomenon that greatly annoys Danielle since the trees don’t seem to burn themselves down in the resulting conflagration. When Duré finds the tribe, he notices they are dimwitted, physically bland, and seemingly bereft of humanity, and show a cult-like devotion to maintaining their population at seventy people. As he stays with them, he starts to uncover a horrifying secret that shakes his faith and leads him to extreme actions. Before all that, however, is the introduction of a word gross enough to challenge “khui” for the throne of uncomfortable words: Gymnosperm. So get ready for a deep dive into a massive space opera, full of stellar sci-fi words and technobabble, that only gets weirder and more incomprehensible the more it’s explained.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 6

This week Sam brings the penultimate episode of the 1990 Dan Simmons book The Fall of Hyperion. Picking up where we left off last time, Severn takes a little meditation time to have visions of Meina Gladstone’s war room where the TechnoCore has just the best idea to defeat the ousters: Herd all the Hegemony people to safety in the labyrinths then use a novel WMD they just happen to have to wipe out the ousters. While many of the FORCE leaders love this idea, Meina, and also Danielle, are not on board. Severn also sees the consul being rescued from brigands by his friend Theo Lane, which is the most interesting Danielle has found the Consul to be in quite some time. Severn comes too and is joined by Leigh Hunt who has come to take him to talk to Gladstone while Father Duré goes to God’s Grove to talk to the Templars. Unfortunately, as Severn and Hunt step through the farcaster, they end up not in Government House, but in what Severn identifies as Earth, or its recreation, far from the web. Severn recognizes the area as Italy and he and Hunt are pushed towards Rome on the abandoned planet. Also, Severn develops an instant case of tuberculosis, because Keats. While Severn and Hunt conduct their slow trek to Rome, Meina and her generals observe the first invasion of Heaven’s Gate, which ends in the planet being destroyed from orbit, so not a great start. Meanwhile, the Consul makes it back to his ship with the help of Melio Arundez, but instead of returning to Sol and Rachel, he is requested by Meina to liaise with the Ouster swarm in the Hyperion system to negotiate a ceasefire. Also, Kassad is fighting the Shrike and while not doing too badly, is definitely not winning. Back on God’s Grove, Father Duré has a tête-à-tête with the True Voice of the Worldtree and the Bishop of the Church of Final Atonement. A lot of things are revealed in this conversation, and this is about the time where Danielle’s brain just gives up trying to understand everything. While this section is definitely jam-packed with intrigue and complications, we do at least get a new pope. Unfortunately, said pope is not our two hosts, but maybe next time.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 5

This week Sam returns to his comfort zone with the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. The Time Tombs have opened and the Ousters are invading the WorldWeb, so things could be going better for the Hegemony. Severn is woken up just in time to take a little walk through the first-wave invasion worlds after filling in Meina Gladstone on the current goings-on of the pilgrims. Meina clues in Severn that his “dreams” of the pilgrims are extending beyond his supposed connection to the other Keats persona cybrid, and somehow this never occurred to Severn. Severn decides to meditate into a vision, and sees Martin Silenus stuck on the Tree of Pain, but through the power of reciting poetry he’s able to ease his pain, and that of those around him, enough to apologize to Sad King Billy who just happens to be impaled right near by. Convenient! Anyway, Severn then goes to Renaissance Vector and meditates again, this time getting a vision of Meina in her war room deciding on a plan to abandon the first-wave worlds so they can take the fight to the Ouster swarms to save the rest of the Web. Severn wakes up and is suddenly chased by a mob of Shrike Cult zealots before escaping into a library with a dedicated room full of Keats poems. Super convenient! Severn takes yet another nap and sees Brawne and Johnny traversing the Megaspehere to find Ummon, Johnny’s “father”, a megalith that loves to speak in koans, so that’s fun. It informs them about a war between a machine-created Ultimate Intelligence and a human-derived Ultimate Intelligence from far in the future, where part of the triune human Ultimate Intelligence fled back in time to the “present” to hide and keep from losing the war. Thus, the Shrike was sent back in time to track it down and finish the battle. That’s just such a brief summation of the lunacy contained in Ummon’s story. Also, Paul Duré is back in the web on Pacem. How did he get there? Two words: Corpse tunnels.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 4

The Fall of Hyperion is back as Sam finishes up part two of the 1990 Dan Simmons novel. The Consul, Sol, and Paul Duré have been hiding out with the inconsistently conscious Het Masteen hiding from a storm of the Time Tides. Masteen informs them of his original plan: to use the erg he brought to turn the Shrike’s tree of pain into a spaceship and sail it through the stars possibly causing misery wherever he goes. The Shrike, apparently, is not on board with this plan, and after briefly abducting Masteen, he leaves Masteen to die, which he promptly and unceremoniously does, much to Danielle’s complete bafflement. They find Brawne, meanwhile, has had a weird metal tentacle plugged into her neural shunt, and though physically alive, appears completely brain dead. We soon learn that sysadmin Shrike has managed to plug Brawne, and also the persona of Johnny Keats she was carrying, directly into the datumplane, and the digital avatars of Brawne and Johnny decide to go on an adventure through the TechnoCore looking for information. Meanwhile, Kassad emerges from a portal with Moneta in what appears to be the distant future when the time tombs were first created. He sees the Shrike’s tree of pain with Martin stuck to it,and as he approaches to help, the Shrikes emerges. Soon, Kassad is surrounded by hundreds of Shrikes, but that doesn’t stop him from charging in head long to fight them. Back in the valley, the others decide to send the Consul off on the Hawking mat he brought to try and retrieve his ship. Not much happens on the several days he flies back, but he does end up falling into a river, so that’s fun. Meanwhile, Duré wanders off for some reason and is almost certainly taken by the Shrike. Now alone, Sol is approaching the moment of Rachel’s birth. He dreams again of the voice demanding the sacrifice, and in an extra dirty trick, a manifestation of his daughter appears in his dream, begging him to sacrifice her. As the time tombs pulse and glow preparing to open there are only two questions remaining: Will Sol sacrifice his daughter? And will DJ Shrike stick around for the encore? Find the answer to at least one of those questions in this week’s episode!

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 3

Sam takes Danielle back to Hyperion in part three of his epic journey through the 1990 book The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. We’re off to an amazing start as Danielle struggles to remember anything about the previous episode, but no time for that, we have a lot going on in this episode! The remaining pilgrims awake in the Time Tomb of the Sphinx, and before too long they are shocked to find that, rather than Father Hoyt, the cruciform parasite has resurrected Father Paul Duré. Duré seems rather sanguine about his being alive again, despite his best absolute torturous efforts to die earlier, and the Consul provides him with the records from his comlog so he can catch up on the pilgrims’ stories. Meanwhile, Brawne and Martin set off back to Keep Chronos to retrieve more food and water, but Martin quickly detours them to the dead City of Poets where he plans to stay and write his cantos, which surely won’t go wrong. Kassad, meanwhile, has found Moneta, but she doesn’t know who he is (time-travel shenanigans, don’t worry about it) but they fight and have sex anyway, so really, about as expected. Eventually the Shrike shows up and takes them all through a weird portal, which is a new thing for it to do. Also meanwhile, Meina Gladstone goes on a walk visiting all the worlds of the pilgrims and remunerates on the choices she made, which we’re still largely unaware of, so not much is learned. Martin is writing furiously, approaching the conclusion of his cantos, when the Shrike shows up and drags him away to its massive tree of thorns. Martin, understandably, is absolutely livid that he isn’t allowed to finish his work. Back in the valley, the pilgrims still there find a strange figure coming towards them, it’s Het Masteen, he’s back! Before we can learn more, we cut to Brawne, who wanders through the Keep, grabs some supplies, is briefly waylaid by a rock-slide, before going back to the valley and finding no one else there. That’s when the Shrike shows up and slips a blade surgically behind her ear. Then we cut to Meina Gladstone, at a war briefing, and to the surprise of everyone in the war room, and absolutely no one else, the Ousters have outwitted them again, and are currently invading the web, having launched the invasion decades ago, traveling at sublight speeds to avoid detection. The Web seems absolutely screwed (they really should have purchased a dehubridifier), but Meina steps up, outlines a plan, and then decides to convene the government to declare war on the Ousters (we guess they weren’t at war already?) and also maybe the TechnoCore. What does any of this mean? Absolutely no clue, maybe we’ll find out next time!