It's difficult to escape an overall feeling of dread from the start of Dan Simmons' Endymion, the first installment of the sequel to his amazing Hyperion story. This does not in any way diminish its success as a worthy follow-up; rather, it accentuates the tragic turn society has taken since the Fall.We meet the 'author' of the story, Raul Endymion, writing his tale from his impenetrable life-sentencing holding chamber in orbit. But the start of his story, some 274 years after the end of Hyperion, finds a universe that is under dictatorial religious control, brought on by an unholy alliance of the Catholic church and an old adversary, the result being the 'gift' of virtual immortality for any who accept the church's sacrament. Having read the previous two entries in the series, we know for sure this is not a good thing, and I'm not talking just about the church being in power.

The 'villain' of the story is two-sided, but having it be religion would seem to speak directly to my worst fears. But, in an interview with author Dan Simmons, he revealed that his portrayal wasn't due to prejudices:
    As for the depiction of the Catholic church, it's not meant to be a prediction. It's really about what happens whenever religion and power go hand in hand. I'm not anti-church by any means; what interests me is that human beings are almost always corrupted by the control they wield over other human beings. That situation has been especially tragic for religions.
The book isn't dominated by religion by any means. Simmons' mysterious avatar of pain, the Shrike, this time represents a kind of dark protecting angel, and is particularly brutal in his handling of the churches' troops on first encounter. Far from being a deus ex machina, The Shrike later meets his match while trying to protect the young female prophet, a product of machine and man.

The final act is Rise of Endymion, and judging by all that needs to be done by the end of this book, the last of the entire series should be awesome.

1 comment:

MaggieMay said...

Hugo Award

1991 - "The Fall of Hyperion" came in third place. #1 "The Vor Game" and #2 "Earth"
1996 - "Endymion" wasn't nomitated. "The Diamond Age" won.
1998 - "Rise of Endymion" was beat out by "Forever Peace" and "City on Fire".