The Trojan War rages at the foot of Olympos Mons on Mars -- observed and influenced from on high by Zeus and his immortal family -- and twenty-first-century professor Thomas Hockenberry is there to play a role in the insidious private wars of vengeful gods and goddesses. On Earth, a small band of the few remaining humans pursues a lost past and devastating truth -- as four sentient machines depart from Jovian space to investigate, perhaps terminate, the potentially catastrophic emissions emanating from a mountaintop miles above the terraformed surface of the Red Planet.
- Hugo Awards
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1 . Slow to Start, but Worth the Wait
Posted February 23, 2010 by Denny Boynton , St. Louis, MOWhile it took me almost 300 pages to really get into this story, once it had me, it wouldn't let go. Once again, Dan Simmons proves that he is the modern master of the complex, multifaceted pltoline in "Ilium." The idea of telling the story of the Trojan War by a 20th century professor recreated millenia later (or earlier) from his DNA, a pair of cyborgs from Jupiter Space and lazy "eloi" representing the last hope of human kind is simply brilliant and makes for a hugely compelling story. Just a warning: The ending will not tie up all the loose ends and you'll want to go pick upi the sequal, "Olympos," to complete the story. It's not next on my list, but soon after. I highly recommend this book, whether your a fan of classical literature or a sci-fi buff. You won't be disappointed.
June 30, 2005
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Excerpt from Ilium by Dan Simmons
The Plains of Ilium
Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles, of Peleus' son, murderous, man-killer, fated to die, sing of the rage that cost the Achaeans so many good men and sent so many vital, hearty souls down to the dreary House of Death. And while you're at it, O Muse, sing of the rage of the gods themselves, so petulant and so powerful here on their new Olympos, and of the rage of the post-humans, dead and gone though they might be, and of the rage of those few true humans left, self-absorbed and useless though they may have become. While you are singing, O Muse, sing also of the rage of those thoughtful, sentient, serious but not-so-close-to-human beings out there dreaming under the ice of Europa, dying in the sulfur-ash of Io, and being born in the cold folds of Ganymede.
Oh, and sing of me, O Muse, poor born-again-against-his-will Hockenberry ' poor dead Thomas Hockenberry, Ph.D., Hockenbush to his friends, to friends long since turned to dust on a world long since left behind. Sing of my rage, yes, of my rage, O Muse, small and insignificant though that rage may be when measured against the anger of the immortal gods, or when compared to the wrath of the god-killer, Achilles.
On second thought, O Muse, sing of nothing to me. I know you. I have been bound and servant to you, O Muse, you incomparable bitch. And I do not trust you, O Muse. Not one little bit.
If I am to be the unwilling Chorus of this tale, then I can start the story anywhere I choose. I choose to start it here.
It is a day like every other day in the more than nine years since my rebirth. I awaken at the Scholia barracks, that place of red sand and blue sky and great stone faces, am summoned by the Muse, get sniffed and passed by the murderous cerberids, am duly carried the seventeen vertical miles to the grassy summits of Olympos via the high-speed east-slope crystal escalator and ' once reported in at the Muse's empty villa ' receive my briefing from the scholic going off-shift, don my morphing gear and impact armor, slide the taser baton into my belt, and then QT to the evening plains of Ilium.
If you've ever imagined the siege of Ilium, as I did professionally for more than twenty years, I have to tell you that your imagination almost certainly was not up to the task. Mine wasn't. The reality is far more wonderful and terrible than even the blind poet would have us see.
First of all there there is the city, Ilium, Troy, one of the great armed poleis of the ancient world ' more than two miles away from the beach where I stand now but still visible and beautiful and domineering on its high ground, its tall walls lighted by thousands of torches and bonfires, its towers not quite as topless as Marlowe would have us believe, but still amazing ' tall, rounded, alien, imposing.