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!

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 2

Danielle’s terrifying month continues as Sam brings her part two of the 1990 Dan Simmons book The Fall of Hyperion. Brawne and Kassad return to the other pilgrims with the rapidly dying body of Father Hoyt, and they decide to call in the Consul’s ship to see if the surgery on board can save Hoyt. However, as they pack to go meet the ship, Kassad’s perimeter alarms go off and he leaves to investigate. The others trudge up the valley but the ship isn’t there to meet them. It seems CEO Meina Gladstone has grounded the Consul’s ship lest they be tempted to use it to abandon their pilgrimage, so the pilgrims decide to seek shelter from the storm in the Sphinx. Meanwhile, Severn is invited to go visit Hyperion, in person, by Gladstone, as she wants a “poet’s perspective” on the situation. So Severn visits and runs into one Melio Alvarez, one time lover of the backwards aging Rachel. Severn interrogates Melio about if he still has feelings for the now infant Rachel, which seems like a real jerk thing to do to the poor man, and then he returns to the web, accomplishing not a whole lot on his trip. Back in the valley of the Time Tombs, Kassad is locked in battle with an unseen sniper he assumes is Moneta. He obliterates one of the Time Tombs, the Crystal Monolith, and then races across the valley floor to it smoldering structure, being heavily wounded in the process, but he sees a figure waiting for him high in the structure. Meanwhile, Severn goes to attend a briefing on the war with the Ousters and things are not looking good for the Hegemony. They will need to commit at least a third of their fleet to Hyperion to secure victory. When questioned about whether such an over-commitment is a prudent idea, Admiral Nashita assures everyone that while they grossly underestimated the Ousters up to this point, this time they’re super-duper sure they got it all figured out and should win the war within a week, what could go wrong? We’ll have to wait until at least next time to learn, as Danielle and Sam wrap this episode with perhaps their best business idea yet: The Dehubridifier, pre-orders are open now!

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 1

This week Sam kicks-off Spook Retorts by bringing Danielle’s greatest fear: more Hyperion! Get ready to dive in to the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. The Hegemony is going to war. At a party to see the armada off, we meet a man who claims to be Joseph Severn, the one-time friend of John Keats. He has a meeting after the party with CEO Meina Gladstone, where it’s revealed that he’s not only another cybrid persona retrieval project of John Keats, but also has been dreaming the events of the Shrike pilgrims through his psychic link to the other Keats persona currently residing in the Schrön loop embedded in Brawne Lamia. If that sentence made no sense to you, you should really listen to the first Hyperion book; it won’t help this make any more sense, but you’ll at least know who those people are. Anyway, Gladstone wants Severn (née Keats) to report to her the progress of the pilgrims through his dreams. The pilgrims haven’t really done much since the last book, having been unable to find the Shrike they set up camp and squabble about what to do. Eventually they go to bed, but Brawne wakes up to find Father Hoyt has wandered off to the now glowing Time Tombs, which can only mean one thing: DJ Shrike is in the house! Back in the Hegemony, Gladstone has bafflingly brought Severn to all her war briefings and given him the highest clearance. The Hegemony is supremely confident they can defeat the Ousters and defend Hyperion, though Severn thinks that’s hubris given how little the Hegemony actually knows about the Ousters or their capabilities. Unsurprisingly, things start going south in the war fast. Meanwhile, Severn gets himself seduced, kidnapped, and interrogated all by the same person. In his drugged, expository ramblings, Severn helpfully reminds us that the Hegemony orchestrated the war with the Ousters to get to Hyperion, the only variable that the TechnoCore cannot account for, and thus may save humanity from otherwise certain extermination by the AI civilization. Back on Hyperion, we see that Hoyt, mad with pain, has entered the Jade Tomb where Brawne sees him get his throat slit by the Shrike. Will Hoyt survive? Find out next time (maybe) in part two!

Be sure to check out the Authorized Novelizations Podcast, especially The Starlight Barking episode featuring Danielle and Sam. You can find them on Twitter @authorizedpod, Instagram @authorizedpod, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Also, a shout-out the excellent Dustin Can Read and Watch podcast, you should check it out on Twitter @dustin_holden, Instagram @therewatchrecap, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Hyperion – Part 6

This week Sam brings the long-awaited conclusion to the 1989 Dan Simmons sci-fi epic Hyperion. The pilgrims, fresh off the tramway, make a pit-stop at Keep Chronos, the now abandoned former resort hotel. As they settle in for the night, the sky explodes into battle as the Ousters begin their invasion. Our pilgrims, however, don’t have time for such things as they’d rather hear the Consul’s story. The Consul tells a story within a story about how a man named Merin, a Shipman aboard the Las Angels who came to Maui-Covenant ferrying the parts to build a farcaster. There, he falls in love with a local named Siri, but Merin can’t stay, partly because he murdered a bunch of locals after they killed his friend (it’s complicated). So, as Merin sails the stars back and forth he ages mere months for each trip while Siri ages eleven years, but every time he returns they still meet up, eventually even having children. Long story short, Siri eventually dies and Merin leads a doomed revolution against the Hegemony to protect Maui-Covenant. The only part of that which is relevant is that the Consul is his grandson and bitterly hates the Hegemony, but has worked for them biding his time. He was there when the Hegemony and TechnoCore encouraged the Ousters to attack Bressia as a test of their military strength, losing his wife and son in the war. He was eventually picked to liaise with the Ousters, this time to get them to attack Hyperion so the Hegemony could make it part of the WorldWeb and stymie the anti-human factions of the TechnoCore. If none of those machinations make sense, don’t worry, it only gets more complicated from there. In the end, the Consul, with the help of the Ousters, manages to start the process of opening the Time Tombs, and now their opening is immanent. Would you like to know what’s in the Time Tombs? So would we, but we’ll all have to wait until the next book for that be answered, maybe. In the meantime, enjoy an ending that makes Danielle rethink why she ever agreed to doing this podcast, but at least she takes solace in our new favorite character: DJ Shrike, dropping beats in the Time Tombs!

Hyperion – Part 5

This week is the penultimate episode of Sam’s deep-dive into the 1989 Dan Simmons book Hyperion. We open with the pilgrims on the windwagon in the morning, and it’s shortly discovered that Het Masteen is dead or missing. The pilgrims soldier on using a tramway through the Bridle range, which is when Brawne Lamia shares her story. Brawne’s story is a cyberpunk noir (how rad is that?!) and it opens with a beautiful man walking into her office asking her to investigate a murder: his own. The man explains his name is Johnny and that he’s a cybrid, a cloned body driven by an AI living in the TechnoCore; and if you think that technobabble filled sentence is nonsense, you better buckle-up for the rest of this chapter. Brawne agrees to help him find the people who briefly killed him (it’s complicated) but manages to accomplish virtually nothing except stealing a high-tech recreation of a flying carpet. Johnny reveals that he’s actually a personality retrieval project intended to recreate the persona of John Keats (of course), and this is about the time both Danielle and Sam regret their almost complete ignorance on Keats’ work. Anyway, they escape to a planet that is supposedly the TechnoCore’s recreation of Old Earth for reasons that are unclear but has something to do with the desire of the AIs to create an Ultimate Intelligence to give them perfect predictive powers. Instead of grappling with such heady ideas, Brawne and Johnny have sex instead, because that’s what everyone in this book seems to do instead of getting answers. Eventually, Johnny concludes that he wanted to go to Hyperion which the TechnoCore adamantly did not want him to do, so the only way to find out why is a cyber-heist into the TechnoCore! Long story short, during the heist a cyberpuke’s head explodes, but they get the data they were after. Will it be the solution that solves the questions of the book? Not at all, but it does raise yet more questions! So come on all you cyberpukes and cruise the datumplane in this totally jacked-in episode of Book Retorts!

Hyperion – Part 4

This week Hyperion is back, as Sam delves into part four of the 1989 Dan Simmons epic novel. As the pilgrims continue their journey, they depart the venerable Benares and take off on a windwagon across the Sea of Grass. After Brawne almost kills Martin due to him being so annoying, Sol decides it’s a good time to tell his story. Sol grew up on an unimportant and small Hegemony world as a scholar, meeting his wife Sarai at school. They had a storybook romance and, after five years of trying, had their perfect daughter Rachel. And if you don’t think that’s a setup for tragedy, then you haven’t been paying attention to this book. After Rachel starts a graduate program in archeology she decides to do a study on, where else, but Hyperion of course. While inside the Sphinx one night something happens to Rachel and the next thing she knows she’s in a hospital and her parents are there telling her she’s aging backwards and slowly losing her memories day by day. Sol and Sarai do everything they can to try and help Rachel, but none of the doctors have any idea how to treat her “Merlin sickness”. As she grow younger, Rachel eventually decides to stop being told about her illness and asks her parents to just let her believe she’s living in whatever past day she thinks it is. Meanwhile, Sol is having dreams about a mysterious voice demanding he take Rachel to Hyperion and make a burnt offering of her, something that Sol categorically refuses, because of course he does, and Sol will continue to engage with what he thinks is god in long, esoteric ethical arguments, as you do. Sol and Sarai do their best as they watch their child slowly regress from the adult they raised to the child she was, losing herself along the way, and boy, this story is sad, sorry about that. On the bright side, Sam does a pretty cool Shrike voice and Danielle learns more bird facts, so get ready for one heck of an episode!

Hyperion – Part 3

It’s Hyperion week again as Sam brings us back to the 1989 Dan Simmons novel! We’re back on the river as the pilgrims continue their journey and Martin Silenus, the poet, takes his turn to tell his story. Martin claims to have been born on Old Earth after the Big Mistake but before the planet was entirely destroyed some five-hundreds years ago. He lead an idle and wealthy life, but always knew he wanted to be a poet. Danielle doesn’t care about that, she’s just excited they brought dinosaurs back just for fun. As Earth succumbed to the Big Mistake, Martin’s mother sent him off on a multi-century space journey in cryogenic stasis, hoping the money she set aside in a savings account would accrue enough interest during his travel to set him up comfortably when he arrived. It didn’t, and Martin, after suffering a stroke and losing his language abilities, was left working in the mud pits of Heaven’s Gate in indentured servitude. This turned out to be the perfect environment to inspire Martin’s poetry, as he wrote his cantos on toilet paper and regained his language skills. By pure happenstance, his work was noticed and published to great success making him instantly, and stupidly, wealthy. Martin buys a truly amazing house with rooms on thirty-six planets connected by farcaster portals that cost a truly ridiculous amount of money to maintain. After gadding about with friends doing drugs, he writes another book of poetry that’s a massive flop and leaves him deep in debt. He starts churning out hack sequels that, while popular enough, leave him unfulfilled and still in debt. Martin decides to liquidate his assets and accept the artistic patronage Sad King Billy of the Kingdom of Windsor in Exile. Sad King Billy decides to relocate his kingdom to, where else, Hyperion, and create the City of Poets. There, Martin is unable to find a muse, and so has surgery to transform himself into a satyr and devotes himself to partying. Right at the point where he’s about to kill himself nine-years later, people in the city start being brutally murdered and Martin finds himself with a new muse: the Shrike. How could this possibly go wrong?

Hyperion – Part 2

This week Sam takes us back on the pilgrimage with the continuation of the 1989 Dan Simmons book Hyperion. The pilgrims touch down on Hyperion but find that in the three years they have been traveling, chaos has overtaken the planet. The mysterious Shrike has been wandering around murdering at will, and the citizenry of the planet—and the WorldWeb—have turned against the Shrike church. Still, with the help of some presumably no-longer-enslaved androids from the Shrike church, the pilgrims resume their journey upriver on a barge pulled by giant mantas. On the river, Fedmahn Kassad shares the story of what led him to this pilgrimage. It starts with Kassad at the Olympus Command School Historical Tactical Network on Mars in a simulation of the battle of Agincourt. How this simulation of medieval warfare helps with space combat is unclear, but nevertheless, Kassad is there and eventually meets a girl in the woods and they immediately have sex. This happens numerous times over the course of many simulations with Kassad and this mysterious woman hooking-up during battles throughout history. He becomes obsessed with her even though she never once speaks to him and he never sees her outside the simulations, or at all after he graduates. There is a boat-load of explanation of the FORCE forces and the New Bushido code, as well as more of Kassad’s backstory, but the exciting stuff happens when the space dwelling people known as the Ousters attack the Hegemony. Kassad saves the day by employing brutal tactics that turn many of the citizenry in the Hegemony against him—much to Danielle’s frustration—so the Hegemony CEO packs him on an eighteen-month time debt trip back to the Web to let things cool off. However, on the way they run into another Ouster warship and Kassad is forced to crash land on, you guessed it, Hyperion, where the mysterious woman finds him. Who is this mysterious woman? How is she connected to Kassad? How did she infiltrate the simulations? How did she know to find him here? But instead of taking her up on her invitation to ask literally any of these questions, Kassad decides they should have sex again. Sam is enraged by his priorities. Meanwhile, Danielle learns some fun new vocabulary words, so she’s the real winner here.

Hyperion – Part 1

This week Sam starts the epic recap of the 1989 Dan Simmons novel Hyperion. 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.