Taking the events and characters of the Iliad as his jumping- off point, Dan Simmons has created an epic of time travel and savage warfare. Travellers from 40,000 years in the future return to Homer's Greece and rewrite history forever, their technology impacting on the population in a godlike fashion. This is broad scope space opera rich in ...
Taking the events and characters of the Iliad as his jumping- off point, Dan Simmons has created an epic of time travel and savage warfare. Travellers from 40,000 years in the future return to Homer's Greece and rewrite history forever, their technology impacting on the population in a godlike fashion. This is broad scope space opera rich in classical and literary allusion, from one of the key figures in 1990s world SF. Ilium marks a return to the genre for one of its greats.
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This is possibly the first science fiction book I've come across that rewards its readers for being ridiculously well-read. Allusions to Proust, Shakespeare's sonnets, "The Iliad", "The Time Machine," "The Tempest," "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," and Judeo-Christian mythology are all woven into the tapestry of this novel. There are probably many more that I simply did not catch. "Ilium" is intelligent, earnest, and funny, leading the reader on a deliriously intricate ride between far-flung plots which seem impossible to fit into one single novel. However, Simmons managed this feat with ease. As the plot kept getting weirder, the author increasingly imbued the characters with more humanity and empathy, so that I truly cared about their fates through the climax of the story. Even better, the development of the characters occurred naturally and believably because of the events of the plot, not out of convenience or necessity as a plot device. Simmons ably made it a joy for the reader to try and put all the pieces together. Overall, the effect was like mashing up a traditional science fiction novel with a sudoku puzzle. It was a great ride, but it was also an active read. Be ready to have the sequel standing by on your shelf, however, because he definitely leaves the reader hanging at the end of the book. I've never enjoyed being so in the dark.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-26 Hugo and Stoker winner Simmons (Hyperion) makes a spectacular return to large-scale space opera in this elegant monster of a novel. Many centuries in the future, Earth's small, more or less human population lives an enjoyable, if drone-like existence. Elsewhere, on some alternate Earth, or perhaps it's the distant past, the battle for Troy is in its ninth year. Oddly, its combatants, Hector, Achilles and the rest, seem to be following a script, speaking their lines exactly as Homer reported them in The Iliad. The Gods, who live on Olympus Mons on the planet Mars, may be post-humans, or aliens, or, well, Gods; it isn't entirely clear. Thomas Hockenberry, a late-20th-century professor of the classics from De Pauw University in Indiana, has, along with other scholars from his era, apparently been resurrected by the Gods. His job is to take notes on the war and compare its progress to Homer's tale, noting even the smallest deviations. Meanwhile, the "moravecs," a civilization of diverse, partially organic AIs clustered on the moons of Jupiter, have been disturbed by the quantum activity they've registered from the inner solar system and have sent an expedition to Mars to investigate. It will come as no surprise to the author's fans that the expedition's members include specialists in Shakespeare and Proust. Beautifully written, chock full of literary references, grand scenery and fascinating characters, this book represents Simmons at his best. (July 22) Forecast: An 11-city author tour, plus the anticipation over Simmons's first new SF epic in years, will fuel sales. The conclusion to this two-part saga, Olympos, is due in 2004. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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