Ilium Mass Market Paperback – Jun 28 2005
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Genre-hopping Dan Simmons returns to science fiction with the vast and intricate masterpiece Ilium. Within, Simmons weaves three astounding story lines into one Earth-, Mars-, and Jupiter-shattering cliffhanger that will leave readers aching for the sequel.
On Earth, a post-technological group of humans, pampered by servant machines and easy travel via "faxing," begins to question its beginnings. Meanwhile, a team of sentient and Shakespeare-quoting robots from Jupiter's lunar system embark on a mission to Mars to investigate an increase in dangerous quantum fluctuations. On the Red Planet, they'll find a race of metahumans living out existence as the pantheon of classic Greek gods. These "gods" have recreated the Trojan War with reconstituted Greeks and Trojans and staffed it with scholars from throughout Earth's history who observe the events and report on the accuracy of Homer's Iliad. One of these scholars, Thomas Hockenberry, finds himself tangled in the midst of interplay between the gods and their playthings and sends the war reeling in a direction the blind poet could have never imagined.
Simmons creates an exciting and thrilling tale set in the thick of the Trojan War as seen through Hockenberry's 20th-century eyes. At the same time, Simmons's robots study Shakespeare and Proust and the origin-seeking Earthlings find themselves caught in a murderous retelling of The Tempest. Reading this highly literate novel does take more than a passing familiarity with at least The Iliad but readers who can dive into these heady waters and swim with the current will be amply rewarded. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Though the years of rebirth were painful, Thomas expects to have a grand old time of comparing reality to Homer. However being enslaved to the Greek Gods and a Muse is no fun, but worse is the reality on the Plains of Ilium. The romanticism of Homer and others seem out of place as Thomas sees the atrocities of the war and the idiocy of the legends. In fact he dreams of a B-52 dropping the A-bomb on these Plains to end the insanity. If that is not enough, adding to his dismay is that Aphrodite orders him to help her kill Athena.
While Thomas finds reality monstrously disappointing, robots research the terra-like created atmosphere of Mars and selfish people reside on a genetically different future Earth. Time means nothing in this universe.
Combine The Tempest and The Iliad into a strange well-written speculative fiction and what you have is ILIUM. The story line takes some adjustment with the anachronisms of Thomas and his transplanted peers discussing A-bombs while the pre BC Trojan War occurs. The cast is a delight and the three subplots blend together into a tremendous science fiction novel with fantasy elements that will elate the audience. However, don't tell your English teacher about Dan Simmons' chutzpah messing with the classics even if it is quite entertaining and successfully achieved.
Ilium follows the Simmons tradition of weaving high tech science fiction with low tech, pretty straightforward and well developed characters. The technology is profuse, and very cool when you picture it in your head. Readers of the Hyperion series will see similarities in a lot of it and there is, of course, the literary subplot with plenty of allusions. This time it is Shakespeare vs. Proust. The characters interact with each other intelligently and are written with distinctly separate personalities. You are going to forget you are reading and really get into the characters, even when they are only discussing something before a big battle. That makes picturing them easy, and the anticipation of forthcoming action even moreso. The stunningly vivid action scenes come into the mind's eye better than any multi-million dollar summer blockbuster. No one is perfect in Simmons' world and every hero/heroine in the book has his/her faults, foibles and has to completely earn his/her status. What a refreshing thing! Real characters. Nothing like the tedious, boring, glamour-gam novel "Shelters of Stone" by Jean M. Auel that I followed Ilium with. The Cro-Magnons might have well have had electricity and TV's. They had every other luxury and if they didn't, by golly, it was inadvertently invented by her absolutely perfect main character! Gads.Read more ›
I loved this book, and I think the online description simply doesn't do it justice. The three stories woven here are all equally engaging and almost every chapter is a mini-cliffhanger.
In the spirit of full-disclosure, I have to admit that I'm a sucker for the classics. Simmons really shows the Homeric characters in all their god-like glory. I just love that.
What I find most interesting about this novel is the schism between the levels of technological advancement. Three levels of technology, three groupings characters, three fully interdependent "worlds".
He places the "humans", an eloi-like band of ever diminishing numbers, on Earth in a near pre-technical dark-age, fully reliant on their machines but completely unable to create, manufacture or even investigate the world around them -- and they even lack the will to want to.
The hard sci-fi comes from the cybernetic inhabitants of the outer system, "alive" and organic but primarily machine. These "moravecs" are the thinking, feeling, emoting, poetic inhabitants of our distant future -- and it is for these non-human characters Simmons reserves most of his character development. Reading about two "robots" discussing the sensitivities of Proust over Shakespeare is surreally enjoyable.
The "post-humans" are the last level, and it is they who have taken science to such lengths it's no longer science, it's magic, and the practitioners themselves have become gods. To wit, Greek Gods and Goddesses. Zeus rules (literally)! Too cool!
I have never seen this done before, not all in one novel, not branching across time, space and ... genres. This is a real science fantasy epic, a rare bird indeed.
Get this book. You won't be able to put it down.
Most recent customer reviews
Mr. Simmons is arguably one of the best genre-hopping authors around, having pulled down awards for SciFi, Horror, Fantasy, etc. Read morePublished on April 3 2007 by Larry Ketchersid
Saddened by the end of the Hyperion journey, waiting for a return to the weavings of D.Simmons mind, I found myself relieved with the arrival of Ilium. Read morePublished on Nov. 27 2004
As a lover of the Trojan myth cycle & Greek mythology in general, I read this book with a great deal of expectation. Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2004 by Gregory Nixon
Readers familiar with Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos will no doubt have been waiting with baited breath for his return to epic SF and his sizable new novel Ilium is certainly epic in... Read morePublished on July 3 2004 by Tama Leaver
First things first - Book 1 of a Simmons series which just sets up the action in the next book. Fits the Simmons pattern I guess. Read morePublished on June 26 2004 by Brian
This is an original and well-written science fiction novel that jumps back and forth from Ancient Greece to the far future. Read morePublished on June 25 2004 by John D. Costanzo
Ilium is as astonishing the second time through as the first. I recommend reading this book at least twice to catch on all the ironies and metaphorical references. Read morePublished on June 20 2004 by Alexander K. Stoker
For the most part I enjoyed Illium but there are also a lot of drawbacks to it as well. Before launching into a critique a short synopsis of the plot will set the stage. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by C. Baker
As well as being very well-written and well thought out, it has not only great characters and a believability, but takes us into a future where you travel by "faxing"... Read morePublished on June 15 2004 by Allan