Top critical review
on January 22, 2004
Dan Simmons, whose literary pretentions spice his earlier Hyperion series with inappropriate and lengthy digressions into classical literature, returns with more of the same.
Perhaps Hyperion and Endymion can be forgiven their logical inconsistencies and glaring plotholes because of the sheer number of really great concepts (fatline, farcaster, Void Which Binds, the Shrike, etc), but Ilium has no such roots to anchor itself to. Hell, I even forgave the inclusion of the horrible Martin Silenus and a reincarnated Renaissance poet because, at least, everyone was having fun.
But come on; Illium is self-flattery at its most purile. Robots discussing the virtues of Proust? A thousand-year old refugee of an extra-terrestrial plot to exterminate the Jews? A virile Odysseus screwing a docile and disempowered future-human female? A gene-tailored Caliban and his AI "Max Hedroom"-like captor, Prospero? Can we at least choose one stream of mythology and stick with it?
Illium takes a lumpy mass of allusions to different and wildly incompatible mythologies, throws in some rather tired concepts from Hyperion (faxing vs. farcaster), adds several gallons of pretention, and mixes. What we get is a certifiable disaster of lame plot devices, pseudo-science, and characters acting as vehicles for the authors' prejudices. At one point, the main character (a Colorado professor obviously modeled on Simmons himself) goes into paroxisms of shock when it is revealed that Achilles and his best friend might be GAY LOVERS! Hello? We're supposed to buy that a professor of history qualified enough to be RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD by vengeful and angry nanotechnological muses living on Mars 10,000 years in the future has trouble believing that Achilles (ACHILLES!) might be gay?
Save your money for a Jennifer Lopez movie. You'll get more intellectual stimulation.