Sci-Fi

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.

Rock & Rule

This week Sam brings Danielle the 1983 animated rock adventure film Rock & Rule. In the distant future, mutant animals have taken over the planet, and they only want one thing: To rock out! Well, most of them do. Semi-retired super-rocker Mok (who looks like an old rat version of David Bowie) wants to find a magical voice that will activate the Armageddon key so he can summon a monster of destruction from another dimension for reasons that are spectacularly unclear. Anyway, when Mok’s magic ring (just go with it) detects the voice of down-and-out rock band member and rat singer Angel’s voice, he knows he’s found the right person. So he promptly kidnaps her and escapes in a zeppelin that transforms out of his home (this movie is bananas). They are perused by Angel’s band mates, including her kinda boyfriend Omar, who follow them to Nuke York on a rescue mission. However, Mok has both tricks and magic up his sleeve to thwart them, so they’re in for a real fight. If this movie seems light on plot, that’s because it’s heavy on rock with many original songs by Cheap Trick, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, and Iggy Pop. It may be short, but Sam certainly has a blast with this insane animated rock-venture, and Danielle is just amused to hear Sam reciting so many lyrics. There’s only one question left: Are you ready to rock?!

Crater

This week Sam brings on the Disney with the 2023 direct to streaming movie Crater. In the not too distant future, humanity has just gotten kind of bored with Earth and decided to invest everything in a new planet Omega. This movie is not about that, instead we follow some kids, and specifically Caleb, living in a mining colony on the Moon. Caleb’s father recently died in a mining accident, and since his mother died a few years earlier, Caleb is awarded a one-way trip to Omega, hooray! Only Caleb doesn’t want to go to Omega and leave all his friends behind. Friends like Dylan, Marcus, Borney, and the new addition, Addison. Caleb’s father always told him about how he used to take Caleb’s mother to visit a special crater, so Caleb and his friends decide to steal a rover and take a road trip during a meteor storm lock-down. They make their way across the moon’s surface, stopping briefly to play baseball (sure), and then also to use their oxygen tanks to play jetpacks (what?!). The jetpack game, predictably, goes awry, but once everyone is back safe inside the rover, they head to an abandoned model home showcase to restock. It should also be mentioned that, although this is a largely upbeat children’s movie, this society is freaking dark. We learn that the miners on the Moon are essentially indentured servants laboring for a ticket to Omega that never comes and passing down that burden of servitude to their children. There’s also no entertainment on the Moon, no books or music, the children only learn about mining in school, and are never allowed to leave the small colony dome. And lest you think Earth is doing any better, Addison recently moved to the Moon from Earth after her parents divorced and her mom took her younger brother to Omega (a 75-year trip in stasis) so then her dad took her to the moon to spite her mom. Absolutely terrible. Anyway, the children continue their adventure to the crater, but what they find there is totally bonkers, as is the ending of this movie which left both our hosts completely baffled.

Moonfall

This week Sam crashes to Earth with the 2022 Roland Emmerich film Moonfall. During a routine satellite repair mission—which astronaut Halle Berry (Sam forgot her character name) went on instead of her honeymoon—things go terribly wrong. A mysterious goo causes the space shuttle to lose power and Halle Berry is knocked out. Luckily, her astronaut buddy Ryan (née Brian) manages to land the shuttle safely. For his heroism, he’s promptly fired and loses his wrongful termination lawsuit against NASA. Years later, a man pretending to be a professor is convinced that the Moon has been knocked from its orbit and, oh by the way, is also a massive alien built mega-structure powered by a captured white dwarf star; ya know, normal stuff. No one believes him (obviously) even though NASA, now with Halle Berry in a leadership position, has noticed the Moon moving closer to Earth. This is, obviously, a massive problem, and the standard disaster elements of floods, meteorites, and earthquakes pummel Earth. Halle Berry calls on her old buddy Ryan to pilot a mission to bring an EMP bomb to the Moon to defeat the evil goo, which she is convinced is a malevolent, alien AI that, once defeated, will allow the Moon to correct itself back to its normal orbit. It’s at this point Sam’s head explodes with the terrible science and insane conclusions jumped to in this movie. There’s also a subplot where Ryan’s delinquent son is on a mission to take Halle Berry’s son to Colorado where her ex-husband is holed up along with Ryan’s ex-wife and her new husband. Apparently, Colorado is the safest place to be if the freaking Moon crashes into the Earth. Ryan and crew mount up to take the fight to the Moon, but can they defeat an alien AI? Why is the AI intent on attacking humans in the first place? What the heck is the Moon? We promise, the answers to all these questions and more are both forthcoming and extremely stupid.

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.