Well, the Kerrion Empire Saga has come to an end in Earth Dreams. And I am still uncertain as to what I’ve just read. So very much has happened in the past 967 pages, with so many people that thinking back, I’m not sure what the actual narrative is. There’s just so many subplots and side stories!
At the end, there is a resolution. But I also feel like I’ve been robbed of a climax. I’ve noticed this in the other two books as well; Morris builds up excitement, we have a partial climax, and then we skip to the next scene following the climax. I am left feeling like we got to see the hero punch the villain once, then got whisked away before seeing the rest of the fight and when we return it’s over and concluded.
Did I like these books? Would I read them again? I’ll go into more detail on the book later, but it’ll be under spoiler tags as I have some items to discuss that I’ve been avoiding thus far. I have to say, the Kerrion Empire is very different from anything I’ve ever read before, despite the fact that I am no stranger to science fiction. Sure, there’s recognizable elements, but it would be disturbing if I didn’t recognize anything at this point. I read enough to know, right? It was certainly busy and kept my attention, so long as I was reading. Well, that’s a lie. Cruiser Dreams kept my attention mostly while I read, but I found myself thinking back on Earth Dreams throughout the work day today. I could tell that things were ramping up towards the trilogy’s climax, which got me excited and kept my interest until I could curl up with the book once more. So there’s a plus for the third book in particular.
But would I revisit them in the future? I think the answer is “probably.” As I said, I can’t think of another book or series I’ve read that is quite like the Kerrion Empire. While I may not be able to define what the main narrative truly is, that doesn’t mean that no parts of these books are memorable. On the contrary, I think I’ll find myself reflecting on them randomly in the future, like other classics that stick in my head. Eventually I’ll be thinking about them so much that I’ll decide that my recollection’s gotten hazy and it’s time to refresh it. So off they shelf they’ll come once more and I’ll reread them.
Do I like them though? I honestly don’t know that I can properly answer the question. I didn’t hate them, that’s for sure. I can envision myself rereading them at some point in the future. But I know for a fact that I didn’t love them and won’t reread them regularly. I suppose I’ll have to settle for saying that I don’t think I’ve wasted my time reading the Kerrion Empire, and that the books are worth keeping.
THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Okay, so. Spoilers. I don’t even know where to start. So I suppose I’ll start with the covers. They are…from the early eighties. They start out suggestive and end up fairly explicit. I’m really not sure I can offer up any words that can do any more justice to them.
You can see Shebat on every cover, and I suppose she is the main character, which means that her story is probably the main narrative, or at least the one that ties the rest together. Which is fair, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a lot going on. You can also see the cruisers, the spaceships capable of traversing spongespace, which I am not even going to attempt to explain. Essentially, the first two covers get a pass based on period, but the third just makes me ask so many questions.
This is as opposed to one of the themes throughout the series, which I have been trying not to question. It is that of incest. Let me lay out to you how frequently this appears and just please understand that I really and truly have no idea why it needs to be so blatant.
The Kerrion family as we know it in the beginning of Dream Dancer has a patriarch in Parma Kerrion. His wife is Ashera Kerrion, and they have a number of children, save the two eldest who are Parma’s alone by his first wife. The eldest son dies at the very beginning of the book and is more of a cipher, since I don’t even remember how much dialogue he has. Second eldest is Marada Kerrion. Ashera’s eldest is son is Chaeron Kerrion, followed by Julian Kerrion. Next is her eldest daughter, Penelope, who is the first of the “younger Kerrions” who have little impact on and next to no character in the whole of the series.
While on Earth, where his older brother dies, Marada ends up picking up a young girl named Shebat. She ends up adopted by Parma and given the role of eldest Kerrion child, replacing the dead brother. She has a fixation on Marada, but he refuses to sleep with her. Chaeron ends up manipulating Shebat into marrying him, and Julian died in an accident, except he didn’t actually die, ending up transformed into a vacuum-breathing siren. For all human intents and circumstances, he’s dead. And then Parma drops dead, probably due to age and stress. This is all in book one, Dream Dancer.
So Marada ends up taking Parma’s place as consul general (read: merchant-king) and promptly has an affair with his stepmother. He also, at one point, considers one with Shebat, who also considers such a thing with him, albeit at different times. IE, one is willing but the other isn’t, the roles change based on events. Then Chaeron comes to visit his mother (who is under house arrest) and they have a most unchaste kiss. Ashera then goes to find her Julian siren and ends up committing suicide and joining him. The way I read that scene, it sounds like they might end up as mates which is still uncomfortable, even if they’re no longer human (and I really question whether or not they shouldn’t be considered human. I mean, isn’t that how I Am Legend and a short story I read – sorry I can’t recall the name offhand and my dad has the book so I can’t look it up – end up? That all sentient species can consider themselves human?).
Essentially, the Kerrion family is pretty fucked up sexually. This doesn’t even consider the fact that Chaeron is pretty blatantly pansexual. It’s not even a secret that he’s been sleeping with his pilot for years. He doesn’t even care when Shebat sleeps with other men, as long as they can still work together politically. I mean, good for him, but still, I just have to wonder and then remind myself I specifically wanted to avoid wondering about these things.
Above you’ll see the backs of the books. I mentioned that the Kerrions are merchant-kings and in Morris’ imagined future, they still mint coins, which in Kerrion space bear the consul general’s picture. Also, the Kerrion crest is an eagle mantling over seven stars, presumably a symbol for the number of star systems they control. I particularly like the back cover of Earth Dreams on the right end there: we see Marada and Chaeron, who are at this point in the series clear enemies. Marada is consul general in their father’s place, but his sanity is highly questionable. He sees enemies behind every shadow and works to rid himself of all perceived threats, such as cruiser consciousness. Chaeron, on the other hand, is a more more reasoned individual in the face of such fanatacism, and seeks to further their father’s plans which he’s managed to uncover by dint of much digging. I like that the image is of the two facing each other from opposite sides of a coin, which the eagle is ripping in half like the Kerrion brothers marshalling their forces in a way that might irreparably split the Kerrion empire in two.
What I like even more is that at the end of the book, facing the final page of text, is a nonverbal confirmation of who has won that battle. After all, you can only tell the brothers apart in these stylized images by the fact that one wears a beard and the other is cleanshaven.
So I guess you can say that this series does end on a fairly positive note, but it sure as hell was a strange ride getting here.