Bantam Spectra, 1996, 468 pages, C$31.95 hc, ISBN 0-553-10020-3
The original Hyperion (Considering both Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion as a single volume) was one of these books that comes one in every decade or so: A brand-new universe, incredible characters, suspenseful plot and a heaven-sent style. What was fascinating about it was the ingenious re-use of several traditional SF elements, re-used in a terribly fresh way.
Thus, it wasn’t difficult to get excited about a sequel. Questions abounded: Given what happens at the end of Fall of Hyperion, is it even possible to have a sequel? Is Simmons able to maintain the same frenetic idea-throwing imagination present in the first book? Is this going to be another one of those insipid sequels?
Well, the book has been read and it’s very probable that you’ll only half-like the answers.
First off, an important caveat to the would-be buyer: Endymion is the third volume in a four-book series. Yeah, I was flustered too, especially when you consider that this isn’t explicitly mentioned anywhere on the cover…. Be reassured, however, that Endymion offers a real sense of closure, unlike other books that we shan’t mention…
Endymion is the story of Raul Endymion, a young man assigned to protect a young girl named Aethena. The book, predictably, is a succession of adventures on various worlds where Raul protects the girl. Fair enough? Of course, things are more complicated than that, involving TechnoCore AIs, a renewed church, multiple deaths and resurrections (literally) and, of course, Simmons’ usually delightful prose.
Casual and litt’reary readers alike will devour this entry of the Hyperion Cantos with gusto. However, chances are that most will feel a little disappointed with the meal. Why?
For all it’s various qualities as an adventure novel, Endymion is just that; an adventure novel. Of course, portentous things happen and we get a few tantalising glimpses of What’s Going to Happen in the Next Volume, but that’s it. Most of Endymion is Raul and Aethena and A. Bettik battling the odds beyond any reasonable chance of survival. Fun, no doubt about it, but once expects more from Simmons.
A good novel, certainly worth the price when it’ll come out in paperback, but smarter readers will read it when the sequel is published.
Well, here we go for another year on the painful coals of anticipation…