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review 2016-06-16 14:49
Simmon's The Rise of Endymion
The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons

This is the last of the Hyperion Cantos and I am just going to assume that anyone reading this review has read the previous three novels.  If you haven't go and read Hyperion, because it is really very good.


This is the fourth and final book in the series.  The strength of the books has never been in the plotting and this book has stronger plot holes than the others.  In particular, Simmons revises several established facts and in a book that condemns the whole idea of institutionalized resurrection brings far too many characters back from the dead.  Furthermore, as the series has progressed it has become more and more about religion and this book, which revolves around a messiah's preaching is the most religious of all.  The reason that is a problem is that while Science Fiction writers often write about religion they often do so very badly.  Simmons isn't bad.  He has a good knowledge of comparative religion and Roman Catholicism in particular, but he is not tremendously wise about religion.  All these faults have gone through the series to some degree after the original Hyperion.


However, the strengths of the series continue.  Simmons work is informed by literature, something which is very rare for American Science Fiction writers, so the quality of the prose is very good.  Furthermore, his characterization is adequate, which might seem like damning with faint praise, but many Science Fiction writers are abysmal at characterization and Simmons is not.  His action scenes are quite good and in its space opera elements it is quite good.


However, there are two things which Simmons has always excelled in in the Hyperion Cantos and they are the creation of The Shrike who is the best monster in literature if you ask me and in the creation of surrealistic landscapes.  I don't want to ruin the surrealistic landscapes in this book, but they are just as good as ever and to me, it is a defensible view that the Hyperion Cantos contains the best surrealistic landscapes in all of literature.  They are good and clever, endlessly different, vivid and compelling.  Hyperion is one of the best Science Fiction books written.  The reason to keep reading is those landscapes.  The Hyperion Cantos is in many ways like the original Dune Trilogy, which is informed by literature, has surrealistic landscapes, is set in the far future and revolves around religion and a messiah figure.  For me, the Hyperion Cantos is superior in every way to its more famous literary cousin.  The whole Cantos is well worth reading.

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text 2015-04-22 16:06
Loose ends
Ilium - Dan Simmons
The Accursed - Joyce Carol Oates
Cover Her Face - P.D. James
Hyperion - Dan Simmons
The Fall of Hyperion - Dan Simmons
Endymion - Dan Simmons
The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons

In which I fret over half-finished books...


I've decided not to start any new books until I tie up a few loose ends. Sometimes, I drift off from a book I was mostly enjoying but having a hard time keeping engaged with. I'm scatterbrained, I'll admit. And yet, I'm not abandoning these books; just putting them off, needing a break.


For example, Dan Simmons is one of my favorite authors. His Hyperion and Endymion books are superb, and so is Ilium. His books combine science fiction and literary tropes/references in a way I love. In Ilium, there are Shakespeare and Proust-loving alien life forms; and a real-time battle of Troy being played out on Mars, supervised by reanimated 20th-century classics scholars. What's not to love (for me, at least)? So I've set out to finish it first.


I've already talked about The Accursed, and how it both fascinates and muddles me. This will be my next one to finish. Finally, I had started Cover Her Face some months ago, and didn't get too far. I loved the style and characters, and have enjoyed reading and hearing interviews with James enough to pursue reading her work. So add that one to the list.


Three books to finish. Onwards!

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review 2015-04-03 00:00
The Rise of Endymion
The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons One thing I forgot to mention in my review of Endymion, the book that precedes The Rise of Endymion, was Simmons' take on the Catholic church, still alive and kicking some one thousand years in the future. In Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, Catholicism still exists, but it's an outlying religion, barely holding on so far in the future. The cruciforms, though, those odd devices that resurrect people after death so long as they've accepted one, transform the religion entirely. The church becomes the sole provider of the cruciforms, and treats giving them out as similar to going through the born-again ritual (now quite literally), and the potential for living hundreds of years and hundreds of lifetimes revitalizes the dying church. It revitalizes the church so much that it becomes more than just a church; it becomes a military force that will do most anything to protect itself. Aenea, the central, prophetic character who is the central character for both books, has been perceived as a threat to the church, which is what prompted the chase through the Web worlds in Endymion.

This half of the Cantos reads as if it is a critique of that religion, and of religion overall. This doesn't bother me, and unlike how Philip Pullman leveled his anti-church agenda against the public with the His Dark Materials series, Simmons at least tells his story with subtlety. That's not to say that the agenda isn't clear -- it is, with the church and its antiquated dogma serving as the antagonists, and Aenea and her own Humanist teachings serving as the protagonists -- but Simmons' stories have a less confrontational tone, and seem to be more about teaching than brow-beating.

The most impressive thing about this volume in the Cantos is how Simmons took all the details that he created for the first two books and brought them to a conclusion here. I'm really just speaking to the construct here; the story itself was lacking in a lot of ways, partly because it didn't have the kind of significance that the first half had, and partly because there was too much coincidence and luck that went into the plot. I'm not sure if Simmons intended for those coincidences to reflect on the prophecy that surrounded Aenea or nowt, but it made for lazy storytelling.

With The Rise of Endymion, I've realized that as much as I like reading Dan Simmons, I can't deny that he's a wordy writer. He enjoys world-building, and since the story traverses several worlds, each with its own unique lifeforms and environments, we spend a lot of time reading verbose descriptions of those worlds. When we meet new characters, we're given more than a brush-stroke of their appearance; we also read descriptions of clothes, hair color, eye color, birthmarks, etc. Near the mid-point of the book, there was a lengthy section where Aenea and Raul are part of a large community, and whenever people gathered in a congregation, we were treated to a long list of named people who attended these congregations. In a lot of cases, this wasn't even necessary. All that was important was that Aenea was becoming more The One Who Teaches and less Aenea; we didn't need to be subjected to a roster of names that was unimportant.

I struggled with Raul as the narrator, too, for a couple of reasons. For one, we're introduced to him in Endymion as being jailed in a spacecraft where he has been left to die, and to keep himself busy until his time of death, he writes down his and Aenea's story. While the convention isn't unusual, Simmons' determination to stick with it grew a little tiresome. In the first book, the narrative shifted from Raul's perspective to de Soya's, and during that book, I took that as a convention, and not as the entire story having been told by Raul. In The Rise of Endymion, Simmons confirms that the whole story is told by Raul, and that he's writing from the other perspectives based on what he learned later in the story. Aside from the story losing some of its tension due to it being told from the future (we never have to worry if Raul's going to die, even when things look grim, because we know he survived to tell the story), it felt like a bit of a stretch to me.

Also, Raul is an insipid, immature character. He's been tasked with being Aenea's guardian, but he consistently makes stupid decisions, says stupid things, lets his emotions run away with him, and ultimately serves more as a foil than a guardian. He doesn't seem to trust in Aenea, despite telling us over and over that he does, and that he would be willing to die for her. In parts of the story, he just got on my nerves more than anything else, and don't forget that he serves as the narrator. Near the end, Simmons brings in an explanation for Raul's thick-headedness, but it didn't sit well with me. Again, it just felt kind of lazy.

Folks who liked the first two books in the Hyperion Cantos might be tempted to read the second half of the series. All I can say is, don't. It's not worth the time, really. Simmons is still a fine writer, but this conclusions doesn't close out anything that was left open at the end of that series, nor does it have the same feeling of importance as the first two books do. It feels to me like it's just a way to cash in on the fans, and it just feels a little cheap. Plus, I know Simmons can write better stories than this one.

One other thing: By finishing this book, I've finished the Unfinished Series project I began eleven months and seventy-seven books ago. As much as I've (mostly) enjoyed finishing up these series, I'm looking forward to reading something new. Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake is a novel about the world moving backward in time, then restarting again in the past, with everyone having an awareness of their future as they relived it, without being able to change anything that would happen. Once people reach the point where their memories end and their lives begin again, they don't really know what to do next. I feel a little like that, having finished off my Unfinished Series project. Now that I have all my books available to me to read, where do I start?
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review 2015-01-09 19:51
Book Review: The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons
The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons

The Basics

In this continuation of the previous story, we see Aenea’s adult life and how she became known as a messiah.

My Thoughts

I don’t really want to say more than that about the plot. If you’ve read the previous book, then you know that’s what was established from the outset, that Aenea’s story eventually leads to her being considered a savior of the known universe. Typical of Simmons, he means that in the religious sense, and Aenea does become a Christ figure. I didn’t really have a problem with this other than Simmons is typically very clever, and this was utterly transparent. There was nothing subtle about it. That doesn’t mean it was bad, just surprisingly straightforward for someone who loves his obscure references.

Compared to the other books in the series, which were all epic and covered so much ground, this one was slower. In particular when Aenea was giving her “sermons”. If you’re not fond of pages and pages of exposition, you won’t be fond of that. They weren’t just info dumps either, but these drawn out, philosophical debates concerning the inner-workings of the world Simmons has built, and I was checking my watch trying to get through that. It rankled a little, as well, that my favorite character for the past two books, De Soya, was having adventures that got glossed over while we listened to Aenea create a new religion. If I could’ve chosen, I would’ve been reading about De Soya.

That was the only low spot though. In fact, that is the only low point of the entire Hyperion Cantos, and I’m not exaggerating. This was a strong finish to an immense series. When I use that word, I don’t mean long. I know series exist that take twenty books to tell their story. I mean that it’s rare when you read about a world built as intricately and fascinatingly as this one was. If you like world building, you’ve come to the right place, especially if you have a taste for hard SF. But he didn’t stop there. He populated that world with characters that you couldn’t help being interested in and told their stories thoroughly.

This book carried some bitter-sweetness to it, and not just because I knew that if Aenea was going to play out her Christ role, it wasn’t going to be pretty. But because it’s officially become one of my favorite series I’ve ever read, and it was sad to end my journey with it. All I can do now is encourage everyone out there to pick these books up, because they are well worth your time.

Final Rating



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review 2014-10-01 00:00
The Rise of Endymion
The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons Finally I have finished the entire Hyperion Cantos, the series than began with the all-time sci-fi classic [b:Hyperion|77566|Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405546838s/77566.jpg|1383900], almost concluded in [b:The Fall of Hyperion|77565|The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405546935s/77565.jpg|1882596], launched a second arc in [b:Endymion|3977|Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1329611385s/3977.jpg|1882574] and ends here with The Rise of Endymion.

These last two books read more like a duology than the third and fourth installations of a series. The Cantos is often discussed in PrintSF, my sci-fi books discussions online community. The second half of the series tend to be quite polarizing. Some people love it, some say it is disappointing, one reader even calls it a bad fan fiction of the first two books. The Goodreads average rating for these last two books however, indicate that they are quite well liked by the majority. In my opinion they are well worth reading if you like [b:Hyperion|77566|Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405546838s/77566.jpg|1383900] and [b:The Fall of Hyperion|77565|The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405546935s/77565.jpg|1882596], but they are not sf classics like these earlier books.

This is not one of those series that can be read out of sequence, in fact The Rise of Endymion continues directly from the previous volume [b:Endymion|3977|Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1329611385s/3977.jpg|1882574]. After narrowly escaping capture by the Pax church state and their secret partner the insidious and malevolent mega AI entity the TechnoCore, our heroes the messianic Aenea and Raul Endymion have settled down on “Old Earth” (just Earth to us) for a few years. That is until one day Aenea instructs Raul to go on an interminable mission to pick up their spaceship which they left on another planet in the previous book and bring it to her at a preprogrammed destination. After finally reuniting with great difficulty they travel to the planet where the Pax run Vatican is located and confront the Pax and the evil AI.

There are quite a few edge of the seat thrilling scenes in this book, especially those involving the killer super cyborgs (T-1000-like) Nemes, Scylla (and the other one). The equally formidable Shrike from all the previous books is also present to challenge these whippersnapper cyborgs. However, the book is not a thrill ride all the way as Raul’s solo adventure to reclaim their “Consul’s Ship” drags at time, though he did get to meet some wonderful characters and cultures on the way. The climax is suitably epic and mystical, and the events that follow wrap up the entire Cantos nicely. I did see the twist at the end from miles away though (if you have read this book I’d love to know if did the same).

Dan Simmons’ prose is always great to read, slipping into lyrical mode from time to time, with the odd (and very odd) poems. The characterization is the main strength of this book, the protagonists and antagonists are all very well drawn. The sci-fi aspect of it is not so mind boggling now as they were mostly featured in the previous books. Some of the new sci-fi elements border on fantasy, such as FTL travelling by foot, through a sort of hyperspace shortcut. Not to mention all the “chosen one” and messianic tropes. In fact Aenea reminds me a lot of Paul Muad'Dib from [b:Dune|234225|Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)|Frank Herbert|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389569143s/234225.jpg|3634639]. All of the mysteries from the previous books (including the origin and nature of the Shrike) are explained (to the displeasure of some fans who prefer them to be left unexplained). The book is also very romantic, optimistic and yet kind of tragic.

I am glad I have finished the entire series, but the first two books classic [b:Hyperion|77566|Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405546838s/77566.jpg|1383900] and [b:The Fall of Hyperion|77565|The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405546935s/77565.jpg|1882596] remain two of my all time favorites which I would like to reread some day. I enjoyed [b:Endymion|3977|Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3)|Dan Simmons|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1329611385s/3977.jpg|1882574] and The Rise of Endymion but I am not likely to reread them.
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