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Looking for the title of a book I read about 5 years ago though I believe the book was a lot older.

Essentially the main male character was on a task and was travelling with a group of people. The mode of transport if I recall was a boat and they were on a remote planet travelling via a river. One of the group was a father to a young female infant. There's a reference to alien artefact/temple that essentially reverse aged a female scientist (the baby) a day at a time and the father is trying to undo it. Also a line I remember is the father used to say see you later alligator and the daughter will reply that awhile crocodile until a day where she forgot.

Another fellow traveller was a pilgrim and his male disciple. There are several other male and female travellers all had different reasons to travel to that location.

The aliens was located within the temple (time locked?) Were invisible to humans. Killed any that entered. Got the impression that they were quadpeds with organic blades/razors that cut people.

I believe the book may be part of a series. The male author though I don't recall the name, has written other works that have received awards. The book or series may have received one too. Which is probably why I decided to read it in the first place.

Question never asked anywhere else. I am from Australia, book was a paper copy bought locally.

  • Welcome to the site! Are there any other details you can add? How long is "ages ago"? Was the book new when you read it? Anything about what the task was? – JohnP May 8 '18 at 15:19
  • Hi. About 5 years ago, though I believe the book was much older. I can't recall the task, but vaguely remember that the aliens were invisible and killed anyone that entered the temple where the artefact was stored. – NeoDeGenero May 8 '18 at 15:22
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I believe you're looking for Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

Here's a link to the character page on TV Tropes.

The character you've remembered is The Scholar.

A Jewish scholar. His daughter, Rachel, was afflicted with an illness dubbed the Merlin Sickness that caused her to age backwards, which he desperately hopes to cure. After having a dream about sacrificing his daughter to the Shrike similarly to the Biblical sacrifice of Isaac, he decides to do so in hopes it will cure her somehow.

Rebecca was a scientist studying the ruins. After an accident she begins ageing backwards and forgetting everything that has happened to her, she would essentially wake up each new day believing it was yesterday. The phrase you remember was mentioned in a poignant passage where she forgets this call and response, because from her point of view she's never heard it before.

The seven pilgrims arrive some distance from the Time Tombs, because they're attacked on route and have to abandon ship. They travel across the surface by numerous transport methods including by boat.

The Time Tombs themselves were, since Rebecca's accident, inaccessible. The phrase time locked may have been used. The travelers believe that they as a group will be able to enter because of their varied and unique connections with the Tombs.

The Shrike is the protector of the tombs and is a lethal assassin, not bound to human rules about time and kills with blades described as razors many times throughout the book.

  • 2
    There are three other books that form sequelae to this one; The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion. Unlike this one, which is framed in the style of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, those three are structured as standard narratives. – Jeff Zeitlin May 8 '18 at 17:05

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