The Rise of Endymion
Simmons, Dan. The Rise of Endymion. New York: Bantam Books, 1997. Fourth and Final book of the Hyperion Cantos series. Available as an audiobook from Audible.com, which Erlich listened to. See also Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, and Endymion.
For a detailed synopsis, see Wikipedia entry under title. See The Rise of Endymion for re-visions of some of the exposition on who is doing what among the AI's in the Core in the earlier novels and for its aggressive transgressing of boundaries and, if one likes, deconstructing binaries.
The Rise of Endymion blurs together organic and high-tech — and the spiritual. The series features a future Roman Catholic Church of great power, much of it based in the cruciform resurrection parasites (or devices: see below). This invites relating the novel explicitly to not just the (folk) motif of the separable soul, but the theology and sometimes philosophy of ... something separable from the human body, that can survive the human body. And in SF and the more fantastic genres can maneuver around cyberspace — significant term — be uploaded into computers, grant after-death existence in "gigabyte space", or get transported over greater or lesser distances, as in the Star Trek series.
Such blurring of organic, high-tech, and/or spiritual appears
In a "biosphere," with pun, that is a dyson sphere in construction, with the main construction element gene-altered trees.
In the cruciform resurrection parasites that we learn in this novel are constructs of the AI TechnoCore, and are used by the TechnoCore for data storage, and which are, in a sense the AI TechnoCore itself, insofar as the Core is stored/hosted there (as what we might see as an unlocalized, un-centered processing unit).
In the Farcaster portals that appeared to be ultra-high-tech transportation devices, and were that, but were also vampiric creations of the TechnoCore, used — prior to the cruciforms — to incorporate human brainpower into the Core.
In the great Templar/Ouster spaceship Yggdrasil, which is a spaceship of considerable sophistication and a tree, and a tree named for the World Tree in Nordic myth. In the ability to use "the Void Which Binds" as a method of major teleportation and power mentally, bringing together what is physics in the Endymion universe, but usually seen as magic, "psy-powers," or mysticism for most readers.
In biologically-based vacuum suits.
In the continuing background quest by the TechnoCore to create an Ultimate Intelligence (UI) that is machine-like, as opposed to an Ultimate Intelligence that is more human and humane — both of which move into powers more usual for gods.
In the idea of love as a physical law of the universe, indeed a basic one, with real power in the Void Which Binds (gravity-like).
In the Shrike and the androids/clones serving the TechnoCore, combining the human with the cybernetic and robotic and what we humans like to see as the radically inhuman.
And In A. Bettik finally (PLOT REVELATION HERE) revealed as an incarnate observer from the Void powers called, flippantly, "Lions and Tigers and Bears," thereby combining in his/itself the artificially organic (android), quasi-cybernetic, and the naturalized, somewhat rationalized mysitical.
Note well the scene near the end of the novel of the torture of Aenea: threatening containment within apparently stone walls, themselves covering high-tech surveillance and communication devices, and within the walls a naked and strung up Aenea at the center, effectively surrounded by TechnoCore Nemes androids, an incarnated TechnoCore agent, and two holograms of Princes of the Church — for a nested series of flesh (Aenea) and the variations of non-natural-flesh of the androids, holograms, incarnate AI, stone, and cybernetic devices transmitting to AI's that both do and do not have a physical presence in the space-time of the scene.
Also note references or whole episodes of worlds/civilizations of contrasting technologies, from a world-city of high tech to a Tibet-like civilization of high sophistication built with non-electronic tools. Note also the idea of literal technological evolution leading to AI and among AL (Artificial Life): with what are referred to as our-world realities of evolving programs with more efficient programs preying upon — although it is put more negatively as parasitizing — less efficient, and exchanges of data that are the equivalent of algorithm sex.
There is much on-line discussion of the Hyperion Cantos in addition to a detailed (if insufficiently proofread) Wikipedia entry: including a fan wiki, and a serious, though brief, positive handling in The New York Times.
FYI: The Rise of Endymion includes long passages of data-dump exposition and somewhat shorter sections of purplish prose of the Modern Romance variety; some readers may be annoyed.
RDE, Initial Compiler, 19-21July17 (16-20Ap23)