by Dan Simmons
The Bikura, The Three Score and Ten
One Score, Two Score, Three Score Little Creepy Things
Father Paul Duré heads deep into the jungles of Hyperion to study the Bikura. He probably wishes he hadn't. The last person to study then wrote, "The Bikura are too stupid, lethargic, and dull to waste time describing" (1.160). Boy, did the guy miss the point.
They call themselves the Three Score and Ten. That's seventy for those of you born in the last century and don't know how much a "score" is. They were "survivors of a missing seedship colony from three centuries earlier […] suffering all the […] cultural effects of extreme isolation, inbreeding, and overadaptation" (1.160). In short, it's like a band of Deliverance rejects crash landed on an alien planet and somehow survived. When Duré meets them, he says, "I was being greeted by a silent, smiling band of bald, retarded children" (1.309).
Sounds cute and funny, right? Well, they're also cold-blooded murderers and all-around weird.
For one, they all look basically the same. They have no sex organs. They kill anyone not of the cruciform, which is a cross-shaped organism attached to all of them. And that cruciform brings them back to life when they die. As one of them tells Duré, "We are all that was and will be" (1.368). Um, get us out of there, now!
Fortunately for us, the entire Bikura village gets nuked by Orlandi, Hoyt's guide. And it doesn't seem like even the cruciform can save them. It's up to you to decide what kind of statement Simmons is making with the Bikura, arguably the creepiest characters in the book (or any book ever). What do you make of the fact that they follow a religion closely resembling Catholicism?