by Dan Simmons
“Humans have been waiting for Jesus and Yahweh and E.T. to save their asses since before they covered those asses with bearskins and came out of the cave,” she said. “They’ll have to keep waiting. This is our business … our fight … and we have to take care of it ourselves.”
Raul Endymion is still in his Schrodinger’s death trap, spending his waking hours capturing his life and experiences with the writing materials left to him by his executioners. He details his protection of and love for the child, then woman Aenea, the Church’s increasing stranglehold on humanity through the immortality-giving cruciform as well as their merciless hunt for The One Who Teaches. The Shrike is back, enigmatic as ever, but once again protecting Aenea, and an entirely new understanding of the energies of the universe is on offer.
What’s not to like? Well, this novel is about as complicated as you’re going to find in storytelling, modern or ancient. Its science hits like a torrent, as does its philosophy, and under that torrent you’re going to sit for a long while, saturated. The book is doorstop-sized at over a quarter-million words, so ducking your head and plowing through isn’t much of an option. You’ll embrace it or you won’t.
‘Ambitious’ is a word used to describe some of the most challenging novels, the ones that provide scope so large you can use newfound perspectives to re-examine ideas already known. Looking at the entire Hyperion Cantos, its complex challenge to and acceptance of religion, human interaction, scientific advancement and probably most importantly, its empathy, the Cantos as a set is today named among the most ambitious literature I’ve read.
Perhaps it’s blasphemy, this attempt to write books with such depth, with this critical eye bent toward more profound meaning and understanding while solidly rooted in fiction. For a man of Dan Simmons’ talent, perhaps it’s blasphemy not to write them.
It is a problem, to tell of such things. To share the most private and sacred of moments. It feels like a violation to put such things into words. And a lie not to.