Tuesday, October 12, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 12: The Shrike

Real World Origin:
Literature, Hyperion by Dan Simmons

In-Universe Description:
In Dan Simmon's Hyperion saga, the Shrike is a mysterious metallic (yet apparently organic) killing machine originating on the colonial planet Hyperion. The monster was responsible for the death and disappearance of thousands of people and was a source of terror for most of the citizens of Hyperion. The Shrike was unimaginably fast and could manipulate the flow of time, allowing it to attack its victims in any place at will. If it so chose, the Shrike might leave behind no trace of its victim, or it might leave behind gallons of blood and human remains. Due to its power and a belief that the Shrike would play a role in mankind's apocalyptic end, it was the focus of worship for the "Church of the Shrike" as well as an isolated people known as the Bikura.

The creature was described by a Catholic priest who survived a meeting with the Shrike:
It was vaguely man-shaped but in no way human. It stood at least three meters tall. Even when it was at rest, the silvered surface of the thing seemed to shift and flow like mercury suspended in midair. The reddish glow from the crosses set into the tunnel walls reflected from sharp surfaces and glinted on the curved metal blades protruding form the thing's forehead, four wrists, oddly jointed elbows, knees, armored back, and thorax. It flowed between the kneeling Bikura, and when it extended four long arms, hands extended but fingers clicking into place like chrome scalpels, I was absurdly reminded of His Holiness on Pacem offering a benediction to the faithful.

I had no doubt that I was looking at the legendary Shrike.

At that moment I must have moved or made a sound, for large red eyes turned my way and I found myself hypnotized by the dance of light within the multifaceted prisms there: not merely reflected light but a fierce, blood-bright glow which seemed to burn within the creature's barbed skull and pulse in the terrible gems set where God meant eyes to be.
Enhancing the horror that the Shrike represented was the fact that it was also called the "Lord of Pain" and maintained an enormous, five kilometer tall tree of steel thorns. Those victims that the Shrike did not kill outright would be impaled on the thorns and would somehow be kept alive to suffer.

2/19/11 UPDATE
Read my reviews of Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion.

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