Another (maybe final?) installment in Simmons's massive far-future odyssey (Endymion, 1996, etc.). The Pax of the Church has formed an unholy alliance with the TechnoCore of artificial intelligences. In return for the cruciform parasites that offer personal immortality, the Pax declares holy war on the peaceful Ousters, whom the Core considers a threat. Meanwhile, on distant Earth, the hybrid girl Aenea--who can perceive parts of the future--prepares to outwit both the Pax and the Core. Aenea's champion and lover, Raul Endymion, protected by the fearsome robot Shrike, enters the defunct forecaster network to locate his ship, while Aenea shares her blood with her growing band of followers: The blood drives out cruciforms and also allows everyone to develop the empathy necessary to commune with the Void Which Binds, a sort of virtual-space shared consciousness that confers both understanding and super-powers. The Core, being hyperparasites, cannot develop this empathy. Finally, Aenea must suffer a dreadful martyrdom in order to spread her message throughout the human universe, whereupon the Pax collapses. As hypercomplicated as ever, though with less story and more explanations and padding; still, Simmons's scope is truly staggering, his inventiveness continues to impress, and the narrative offers something for everyone--at least some of the time.