Another episode in Simmons's vast and hypercomplicated far- future saga (The Fall of Hyperion, 1990, etc.). Now, the repressive Pax of the Church rules human space through its possession of ``cruciforms,'' symbiotes that allow the dead to be resurrected. On planet Hyperion, woodsman Raul Endymion is snatched from death row by the thousand-year-old poet Martin Silenus and given the task of protecting the child Aenea, who will shortly emerge from the Time Tombs having time-traveled from 264 years in the past; Aenea is destined to save humanity, and Raul is her designated hero. Other matters on Silenus's list of things for Raul and Aenea to do: find planet Earth, long since mysteriously vanished; defeat the TechnoCore, a hostile and immensely powerful alliance of advanced artificial intelligence; form a friendship with the weird space- dwelling Ousters--oh, yes, and destroy the Pax and topple the Church. Unfortunately, the Pax knows about Aenea, and sends Father Captain de Soya in his state-of-the-art, superfast spaceship to capture her. So Raul, Aenea, and the ancient android Bettik flee into the planet-hopping network of ``farcaster'' portals. Eventually, an invulnerable construct, sent by the Core back from the future, will show up to assassinate Aenea--but she'll be defended by the enigmatic Shrike, previously considered hostile to all humans. Intriguing ideas and above-average characters in a choppy narrative marred by friable plotting: gripping sometimes, though equally often glutinously overdetailed--and series regulars will note the endless scope for further installments.