Sci-fi novels are literally my drug of choice.
Endymion is the sequel to my previously reviewed Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion. Taking place around two hundred years after the events of the first books, Endymion is a truly worthy sequel of those amazing novels.
Raul Endymion (pronounced like “Tall”) is about to be executed for ‘murdering’ a member of the new catholic church, known as the Pax. Murdering is in air quotes because Raul’s victim testifies at the hearing.
But Raul is saved by the poet Martin Silenus, the only known survivor of original Earth before it’s destruction, and one of the original pilgrims of Hyperion. Martin tasks Raul with an impossible quest, rescue and then protect the savior of the world. A girl, Aenea, daughter of Brawne Lamia and the Cybrid persona of John Keats. The Pax will stop at nothing to capture her and possibly kill her, to prevent her from overthrowing their rule and letting the dreaded Ousters into human space. How does everyone know this? Vague prophecies provided by the long thought dead techno-core, the AI personas who may or may not be working to save/kill humanity.
You really have to read the first books to even begin to know what’s going on here. Doing away with the probable happy ending implied by The Fall of Hyperion, author Dan Simmons has chosen to base his sequel around one of the more interesting aspects discovered in the first novel. The Pax has discovered how to overcome the debilitating effects of the cruciform, a cross shaped parasite that regrows your body after death. They jealously guard their secret, thus ensuring humanity’s dependence on the Catholic church for eternal life. Join the church and you can live forever. Reject it, and you will die the true death.
Once almost a dead religion, the Pax stepped in to fill the void left by the hegemony after it’s collapse. One of the book’s most compelling characters, Father Captain De Soya, is tasked with capturing Aenea. He uses a ship that travels so fast, it liquefies his body every time he travels between planets, and must be resurrected in the new system. It doesn’t help that resurrection is very disorienting and painful. But De Soya’s commitment to the faith is absolute.
Making a return is the horrifying shrike, but pulling a terminator 2, he’s a little bit of a guardian this time around. Inflicting horrible death on those getting in the way of Aenea’s journey. As usual, whenever the shrike shows up, Dan Simmons expertly weaves his novel into the horror genre and back to science fiction just as smoothly.
Don’t fret, our heroes are fun to hang out with as well. Aenea is only 12, but she’s seen the future and might as well be 160 for all her knowledge. Raul, the perpetually perplexed muscle has never been off the planet Hyperion, but now he has to transport a little girl through a farcaster system that shouldn’t work, floating on a raft down a river to god knows where. And A. Bettik, the polite butler-like android, one of the last of his race, provides last minute heroics that his humble persona will never acknowledge.
Witty, full of new worlds and animals that didn’t make an appearance in the old novels, Endymion is one of the best. Echoing all the things I loved about Hyperion, Endymion makes it all seem fresh. Introducing new characters to love, and a new world that’s somehow more richly populated than the last one, Endymion is highly entertaining. It teases big things and bigger revelations. Maybe humanity will find it’s happy ending after all, if Aenea has anything to say about it. And only if she can make it to her destination, because something worse than the Pax is also hunting her.
4 out of 4 stars