Monday, July 23, 2012

Endymion - Dan Simmons (6/10)

Will somebody please tell Mr Simmons that chase stories are supposed to be fun! This book is essentially a chase on a galactic scale and Mr. Simmons manages the not inconsiderable feat of making an inter-galactic chase extremely, painfully, unbelievably dull and boring!

Its 270+ years since the Time Tombs opened. The WorldWeb is no more, the farcasters do not work anymore and the fatline has gone silent. Most of the worlds of the erstwhile Hegemony are now governed by a new government, the Pax, which is controlled by the resurgent Church. Lenar Hoyt has become the Pope and the cruciform parasites have been tamed and are now offered by the church to every born-again christian offering immortality. It is in this world, dominated by this Church, that the 12-year-old Aenea steps out from the Sphinx.

The Church purportedly has a huge dislike of AIs and since Aenea is the daughter of an AI (the Keats cybrid) they are afraid of her (fearing her an agent of the TechnoCore) and so send their soldier Father Captain de Soya to capture her and bring her back to Pacem.

So, the first 90% of the story essentially is Aenea being chased across the galaxy by de Soya. She has a human, Raul Endymion (chosen by Martin Silenus, yes, he's still alive!), an android, A. Bettik (remember him from the first book?), and our old friend, the Shrike, as her protectors. The story literally takes us on a tour of the erstwhile WorldWeb. Aenea, along with Endymion, A. Bettik and the consul's Ship travels the worlds previously connected by the river Tethys as de Soya tracks her unsuccessfully, always just a step behind her. This part of the book is extremely slow and plodding.

As with 'Hyperion', 'Endymion' gets interesting right at the end. Simmons sets the stage for the final book with a series of revelations that promise a cracker of an ending to this wonderful saga. We learn that the Church that outwardly was against the creation of any AIs is infact in a Faustian pact with the TechnoCore. It was the core that gave the technology to tame the cruciforms to the Church. What we do not know is what the Core got in return! We know that the Church is about to launch a new crusade against the Ousters to obtain complete dominion over the galaxy. For this purpose they've created special soldiers. Machines capable of taking on the Shrike itself! We get a glimpse of sinister 'Peace and Justice' projects of the Church that leave entire worlds empty, worlds that refused to accept the cruciform!

Finally, we learn of "Something Else" from "Somewhere Else" that stole away the Earth before it could be destroyed by the TechnoCore, that activated the farcasters for Aenea, and that brought her to Earth for her apprenticeship to get her ready to fulfill her destiny.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons

Humankind created machines. The machines destroyed the Earth and scattered the humans throughout the galaxy. The relationship between man and machine changed from one of master-slave to one of peaceful co-existence. The machines created a God far into the future. This machine God found another God already in existence. OUR God. And a battle ensued...

This is the Dan Simmons that I know. Epic scope and brilliant imagination.

At the end of 'Hyperion', we left the Shrike pilgrims on the edge of the valley of the Time Tombs, descending into that mysterious place where the time tides hold sway. 'The Fall of Hyperion' continues the story adding on a whole lot of substance to the Hyperion universe. We learn about the Hegemony of man and its politics. The uneasy relationship between Man and the TechnoCore. We learn about the battle that started far in the future, and continued back in time. We witness the invasion of the Worldweb. We get to know the Ousters in much more detail. We see betrayals and deceptions. And revelations!

We learn about God, or rather, Gods! Two to be precise. The machine god and the human God. We learn that the Shrike is an agent of the machine God sent back in time to find the empathy part of the human God who didnt want to fight anymore.

Simmons does brilliantly to narrate and sustain the multiple sorylines. Rachel getting younger every day, ever-closer to her first (and last!) birthday. Moneta who pops up every once in a while in a different 'when'. Colonel Kassad who does battle with the Shrike. A good old-fashioned duel, but with advanced weapons and across the fabric of space and time with the future of all humankind at stake. The secrets of the templars. The consul who continues to play an important role - in the politics of Man as well as Ousters. And a new cybrid whos not really that new. 'The One who Come Before'. The twin to the Keats persona encountered in 'Hyperion'. The TechnoCore and the divisions therein - the stables, the volatiles and the ultimates.

And finally, Brawne Lamia! The mother of the One who Teaches!

The saga is not finished yet.