In brief: The Rise of Endymion

At once too ambitious and poorly executed. There are some big ideas which, even though Simmons may have planned from the first pages of “Hyperion”, don’t really fit the feel of the first half of the cycle. You can tell this is the case because there is far too much exposition that the characters teach each other about 3000 years of computer and human evolution that takes pages and pages of long hard reading and concentration on part of the reader. This sermon-like approach to world building actually holds back the plot that it seeks to reinforce and accelerate.

Originally eager to read this book because I was caught up in a good story that had flowed from the first two “Hyperion” novels, by the time I was done with “The Rise of Endymion” I was exhausted and glad that it was over. I always worry when an author has difficulty keeping the size of each novel in a series consistent. “Hyperion” is slim, compact, and well-edited. By the time Simmons reaches “The Rise of Endymion”, the book is at least three times as long and the reader is not given any more value for their investment of time.

Hyperion

Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are two intricately designed novels that reach backwards to draw inspiration from poetry and philosophy of centuries gone by to inform on a dark war between mankind, our evolution, and our subtle machine overlords in utopian future.

Sound familiar? It should. These two award-winning novels were written a decade before the Matrix series were released, and it’s hard not to draw parallels on many levels (specifically in terms of plot and philosophical influence). Continue reading

Congratulations to Studio Foglio

Girl Genius - Adventure Romance MAD SCIENCE!

Their work on Girl Genius has been awarded with the inaugural Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.

I generally don’t follow literary awards of any kind, not even ones for sci-fi and fantasy, which is probably an oversight. Nonetheless, this is great news, as Girl Genius is a fantastic story. I highly recommend reading from the start. There’s an amazing depth to the world and characters, and the intricate story has obviously been plotted out in advance quite craftily.

There’s an amazing level of wit, humour, emotion and intelligence, and it presents a fantastic brand on the broad steampunk culture.

Review: Ender’s Shadow

Few things in literature are as ambitious as recounting the same events told in a previous book from the point of view of another character. The narratorial and character voices can easily slip into the ones used in the preceding work, the author may find he does not actually have that much more to say on the same subject, or the new book could simply read like a money grab.

I have to admit that I was skeptical about Ender’s Shadow. I have a lot of time for Orson Scott Card, and the original, Ender’s Game, was a fantastic piece of work; and yet to retell the same story from the point of view of one of Ender’s lieutenants sounded like a recipe for disaster, especially since I had already read the “sequels” regarding Ender’s travels.

I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Bean is a completely separate and engaging character in his own right. Far more than a simply sullen boy with “short man” syndrome, he is Ender’s intellectual superior, but lacks Ender’s empathy and charisma. Hyper-observant and capable (the reasons for which are uncovered in the book), he comes to the attention of the recruiters for Battle School by manipulating the street gangs of Rotterdam. He doesn’t rise through the ranks simply because he recognises the manipulations of the teachers at Battle School for what they are: just a game, and is given alternate privileges as a result.

Most of the time, his story does not directly intersect with Enders. Indeed, Card goes out of his way to ensure that the two do not meet or interact unless it’s absolutely necessary. This helps to enforce the importance of Bean’s interactions with Ender. It was genuinely fascinating to see the same words uttered, but to see them interpreted differently.

If you haven’t read Ender’s Game yet, start there: it’s the better book, being shorter and containing more punch. Ender’s Shadow is great, but I feel that it spends more time filling in details left out in the author’s first treatment of the story.