Endymion is the third instalment in Hyperion Cantos, the other two I read before this blog was even thought of and it has been quite a while between visits to Simmons’s world. But intrepid sailors of other worlds do not be fooled! This is not a novel like it’s predecessors. But before I start, I must tell you about Hyperion. Hyperion is a novel that I cannot get enough of recommending to people. It is a sci-fi novel of staggering magnitude, I think about it and the tectonic plates of my imagination shift. Dan Simmons builds a world that is rich and believable, a world full of literary allusion, and characters that you become intimately acquainted with on a long pilgrimage. It is a difficult world to break away from during reading, it is anxiety inducing, it is exciting, and it is wonderfully written. Endymion however, is not Hyperion.
Endymion follows on nearly three hundred years after the events of Hyperion and the Fall of Hyperion, the narrative of our past characters transcribed in Martin Silenus’s epic poem ‘Cantos’, is now black listed by the Church that now holds a tight grip over the universe. There are many waves back to the past and the previous two novels, in fact we journey through the twisted bones of a world so very easily recognised but is so very different. The web has well and truly fallen, the cruciforms (cross shaped parasite that allow the host to resurrect regardless of death or bodily harm) have been tweaked a little so the resurrected does not become simple or sexless and this parasite is the Church’s main bargaining tool to keep control of all of the planets in it’s reach.
Aenea, the daughter of Brawne Lamia and the John Keats Cybrid, has bravely flung herself three hundred years into the future through the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion, to do … what exactly? What all eleven year olds dream of, to save the world of course! Luckily the eleven year old isn’t on her own as the old decrepit poet Martin Silenus (who has indeed survived the hiccup of three hundred years) flings a young man, Raul Endymion, and a blue Android along with her in the Consul’s old ship. How lucky you might think, but Martin has had a long time to plan all of this.
Unfortunately for everyone in the novel the Church somehow know that Aenea is about to return to start her quest to become the Messiah and send out a kidnap/capture team lead by Father Captain Federico De Soya. De Soya’s resurrection ship manages to skip a head by killing all of it’s occupants and then reviving them but somehow is still has trouble capturing one little girl. But what they don’t know is Aenea is returning with the Shrike in toe, very much like a pet – which is very out of character for the murderous metal creature.
Like it’s two predecessors Endymion is a novel with a lot of interesting ideas that are well thought out but they feel a little recycled this time around. This novel is very slow for the first two thirds. It falls into the danger zone of the ‘Messiah’ story, Aenea is a remarkable eleven year old who you simply forget is eleven, she is mystic and mythological before she steps out of the Time Tombs. Did I mention that solutions come very easy to these characters on their journey? Loosing any gear seems to be of little consequence, injury never feels life threatening.
Any peril that Raul faces in the narrative is simply made redundant by the fact that it is made clear early on that he is writing the novel as a memoir while he waits for his execution.
But the weakest part of this novel is actually some of the writing. Simmons has a nasty habit in this novel to repeat action because two different groups of characters are reliving the same event. Because of this chapters become predictable and I found myself painfully aware of predicting De Soya’s reactions to the previous chapter lived out by Raul. This feels tedious after a while. It feels like declining execution to brilliant and grand ideas and a long slow drift to an ending that reveals too much too fast.
Sadly this novel felt like a stepping stone. It feels a little like ideas have been recycled and pinned into a sci-fi chase narrative and the travellers on said journey never really seem to be sure why they are doing this. The narrative is far simpler than Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion and perhaps this is why this novel was so unsatisfying for me, as I was expecting more. There’s no polite way to put it, I am a little disappointed.