Ilium

( 108 )

Overview

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...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Dan Simmons, author of the award-winning Hyperion Cantos (Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Fall of Endymion), returns to epic science fiction with Ilium, an awe-inspiring novel that reconstructs the events in Homer's classic The Iliad. Imagine the Trojan War taking place on a terraformed Mars, with gods that are really highly advanced post-humans. Add to that a variety of races of sentient biomechanical organisms living in the outskirts of the solar system, a reincarnated professor from the 21st century working as an observer for the gods, handheld time-travel devices, and Little Green Men, and what do you have? One word: Hugo!

The re-creation of the Trojan War is only the foundation for this multilevel, truly extraordinary space opera. Thomas Hockenberry, a professor who once lived in 21st-century America, has somehow been reborn and thrust back in time to the last days of the Trojan War, as chronicled by the blind poet Homer. He is now working for the gods, secretly observing the events of the epic war. When a goddess enlists him in a plot to kill another deity, the pot-bellied scholar realizes his life is forfeit either way -- but in his desperation he begins to look at his strange reality in a different light…

Easily Simmons' best work to date, Ilium is a breathtaking novel that is sure to garner accolades and awards. Paul Goat Allen

Library Journal
A professor from Earth is a pawn for the gods on a Martian battlefield in Dan Simmons’s 21st-century version of the Trojan War. As Zeus reigns from Olympus Mons on the red planet, sentient robots from Jupiter investigate the chaos there, while a group of humans left on Earth try to find out the truth behind the machines that serve their every need. An expert blending of sf tropes like quantum teleportation, artificial intelligence, and time-shifting complexities and literary themes from Homer, Virgil, Proust, Nabokov, and Shakespeare.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The New York Times
For answers to the mysteries laid out in Ilium -- from the true identity of the Olympian gods to the fate of robots and humans and of the ''little green men'' on Mars for whom communication means death -- you will have to wait for the promised sequel. For now, matching wits with Simmons and his lively creations should be reward enough.— Gerald Jonas
The Washington Post
Dan Simmons launches a new multi-volume epic with Ilium -- one that recalls his ambitious Hyperion series -- and its opening novel is a doozie, as three colorful plotlines eventually merge in impressive fashion. — Fiona Kelleghan
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. (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.
Library Journal
Restored to life by the "gods," a race of beings who dwell on the heights of Olympos, 20th-century scholar Thomas Hockenberry travels back in time to observe the events of the Trojan War, as chronicled in Homer's epic poem. There, one of the gods recruits him in a secret war against her brother and sister deities. Set in a far future in which the population of true humans is kept strictly regulated by extraplanetary forces and machine intelligences study Proust and Shakespeare as they perform their duties throughout the universe, Simmon's (Hyperion; Darwin's Blade) imaginative retelling of The Iliad forms the framework for a tale of epic proportions. Ancient themes of love, honor, duty, and courage play out on the stages of the distant past and the even more distant future. Highly recommended. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A three-pronged start to another gigantic series from Simmons (the Hyperion Cantos) that will leave most readers waiting breathlessly for the next installment. Ilium, of course, is another name for ancient Troy, and the tale opens on the blood-soaked plains of that besieged city as the Greek armies carry on their nearly decade-long attack, while Thomas Hockenberry, Ph.D.--"the unwilling Chorus of this tale"--studies the whole affair. Reassembled from scraps of DNA thousands of years in the future, Hockenberry and a host of other scholars were gathered up and sent to the past by a race of creatures with awesome powers and fickle tempers (the Greek gods) to serve as their recorders for what they saw as this grandest of games. Hockenberry is a past master of the Homeric epics, so the job has its rewards, namely comparing Homer’s poetry to the specifics of the battle taking place in front of him. It’s a harrowing affair, since ancient warfare is more horrific than he imagined (the Greek and Trojan "heroes" are often just overmuscled nitwits), and since one of the "gods," Aphrodite, has just enlisted him to help kill Athena. The two other story arcs (which link up later) take their cues from The Tempest (and more than a touch of The Time Machine) rather than from The Iliad. In one branch of the story, a band of research robots dives into the terraformed atmosphere of Mars, while in the other, a small race of impossibly spoiled people putter about in the genetically altered, gardenlike playground that is Earth far in the future. Just as unwieldy and pretentious as it sounds, but Simmons (Worlds Enough & Time, 2002, etc.) never lets the story get away from him, using copious amounts of wit tokeep the action grounded--and utterly addictive. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380817924
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 752
  • Sales rank: 193,224
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Simmons is the Hugo Award-winning author of Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, and their sequels, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion. He has written the critically acclaimed suspense novels Darwin's Blade and The Crook Factory, as well as other highly respected works, including Summer of Night and its sequel A Winter Haunting, Song of Kali, Carrion Comfort, and Worlds Enough & Time. Simmons makes his home in Colorado.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Ilium

Chapter One

The Plains of Ilium

Rage.

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.

Then there are the Achaeans and Danaans and other invaders -- technically not yet "Greeks" since that nation will not come into being for more than two thousand years, but I will call them Greeks anyway -- stretched mile after mile here along the shoreline. When I taught the Iliad, I told my students that the Trojan War, for all its Homeric glory, had probably been a small affair in reality -- some few thousands of Greek warriors against a few thousand Trojans. Even the best informed members of the scholia -- that group of Iliad scholars going back almost two millennia -- estimated from the poem that there could not possibly be more than 50,000 Achaeans and other Greek warriors drawn up in their black ships along the shore.

They were wrong. Estimates now show that there are more than 250,000 attacking Greeks and about half that number of defending Trojans and their allies. Evidently every warrior hero in the Greek Isles came running to this battle -- for battle meant plunder -- and brought his soldiers and allies and retainers and slaves and concubines with him.

The visual impact is stunning: mile upon mile of lighted tents, campfires, sharpened-stake defenses, miles of trenches dug in the hard ground above the beaches -- not for hiding and hunkering in, but as a deterrent to Trojan cavalry -- and, illuminating all those miles of tents and men and shining on polished spears and bright shields, thousands of bonfires and cooking fires and corpse fires burning bright.

Corpse fires.

For the past few weeks, pestilence has been creeping through the Greek ranks, first killing donkeys and dogs, then dropping a soldier here, a servant there, until suddenly in the past ten days it has become an epidemic, slaying more Achaean and Danaan heroes than the defenders of Ilium have in months. I suspect it is typhus. The Greeks are sure it is the anger of Apollo.

I've seen Apollo from a distance -- both on Olympos and here -- and he's a very nasty fellow. Apollo is the archer god, lord of the silver bow, "he who strikes from afar," and while he's the god of healing, he's also the god of disease. More than that, he's the principle divine ally of the Trojans in this battle, and if Apollo were to have his way, the Achaeans would be wiped out. Whether this typhoid came from the corpse-fouled rivers and other polluted water here or from Apollo's silver bow, the Greeks are right to think that he wishes them ill.

At this moment the Achaean "lords and kings" -- and every one of these Greek heroes is a sort of king or lord in his own province and in his own eyes -- are gathering in a public assembly ...

Ilium . Copyright &#copy; by Dan Simmons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 108 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(32)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 108 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2011

    Highly recommended

    The characters are all well developed with a highly original and imaginative storyline. Anyone interested in scifi views of humanities far future, nanotechnology, the Iliad, or dystopian societies should love this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2004

    This book lacks coherence and is a dificult read

    This book lacks coherence and many parts were often unintelligible. Simmons has the bad habit of making up his own words and terminology - this would not be such a problem if he defined them and explained the words when using them. However, he often does not explain the terms until hundreds of pages later, if at all!!(scholic,moravecs, voynix, faxing humans?- i still dont know what these are after reading the novel). He seems to be trying to tell more than one story at a time, and therefore the novel lacks any semblance of a normal progression. I often found myslf mumbling, 'what the heck is going on?' and would look again and again at the story summary on the dust jacket vainly seeking an explanation. I understand that Simmons is considered a top Sci-fi writer- but he would sell lot more copies if he made an effort not to write in such an obtuse style. and many parts were often unintelligible. Simmons has the bad habit of making up his own words and terminology - this would not be such a problem if he defined them and explained the words when using them. However, he often does not explain the terms until hundreds of pages later, if at all!!(scholic,moravecs, voynix, faxing humans?- i still dont know what these are after reading the novel). He seems to be trying to tell more than one story at a time, and therefore the novel lacks any semblance of a normal progression. I often found myslf mumbling, 'what the heck is going on?' and would look again and again at the story summary on the dust jacket vainly seeking an explanation. I understand that Simmons is considered a top Sci-fi writer- but he would sell lot more copies if he made an effort not to write in such an obtuse style.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    Amazing

    Great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2012

    great book!

    A little hard to grab the story line in the beginning, but stick with it, it's worth it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Imaginative.

    Don't let the length intimidate you. It took a while to see how the seemingly three separate story lines could possibly relate to each other, but once it started to come into focus it was a thoroughly gripping read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Dinosaurs! Greeks! Transhumanism!

    Dan Simmons' Ilium is a sci-fi masterpiece, brilliantly weaving the tales of a Homeric scholar trapped in a far-future recreation of the Trojan War on Mars with the mystery of Earth's last humans exploring their strange planet, even while the exploration robots of Jupiter's moons must turn their attention inwards and investigate energies that could annihalate the entire Solar System. Brilliant stuff.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2012

    Tedious

    This book is based on the Greek poet Homer's epic poem: "The Iliad." Basically, it is the story of "The Iliad" set in a far distant future of the Solar System. The story contains some chapters that are lucid and exciting, interspersed between chapters consisting, primarily, of interminable lists of the names and descriptions of every Greek and Trojan character in Homer's poem. The book is tedious, at best.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    WoW!

    I'm completely blown away by Dan Simmon's books. This one was great!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2012

    I can only hope the typos and misspellings (in the excerpt shown

    I can only hope the typos and misspellings (in the excerpt shown here) are not in the printed volume. Though it wouldn't surprise me; lately I've seen a number of books that seem to have been spell-checked but not actually proofread.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Epic escapism!

    Homer meets War of the Worlds in this futuristic thriller. Not to be missed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2010

    Master Work by a Master Writer

    Ilium is quite a wild ride through the classic Trojan war epic with a sci fi twist that is the hallmark of Simmons' craft. I found the plots engrossing and the gods facinating. This book has as many twists and turns as the roads and dusty byways in the ancient city of Troy. I read it twice this year along with its sequel Oympos and enjoyed the second trip though Simmons' prose as well as the first!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2010

    MASTER WRITER

    Dan Simmons has done it again with an awesome novel. This was extremely engrossing and has to rank among the best ever. To the person that thought there was too much bad language and didn't like the adolescent nudity. GO BACK TO CHURCH AND READ THE BIBLE!! It may help to keep you "pure" and wash off this awful nastiness. People like you make me sick.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic book! The Trojan war played out on several planets, in various time zones, and with a wide panoply of great and varied characters. I loved it and its sequel Olympos!.

    One of Dan Simmons best!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Dan Simmons, simply the best novelist alive!

    There are few authors whose books I automatically purchase without even looking to see what the subject matter is but Simmons is one of them. When I got home from Barnes & Noble with this (& its' sequel Olympos) I have to admit I thought that maybe this time Simmons had "gone around the bend". Boy, was I wrong!! Weaving together robots, Greek gods & a space/time continuum theme Simmons once again grabs you by the throat & doesn't let go. This story was yet another well deserved Hugo award nomination for the author & I am continually surprised that he is not as well known as some of his less talented contemporaries. Great, epic action, well developed characters (by the dozen),& extremely vivid (yet surreal) scenescapes draw the reader in until you find yourself racing to the end at 2 a.m. to find out what happens. These books as well as anything else by Simmons deserve your time & attention. You will be rewarded & enriched by this author's limitless gifts. Long live Dan Simmons!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2008

    Amazing

    This is another incredible read by Dan Simmons. I found this to be even better then Hyperion! Though the first couple of chapters, and maybe about 90 or so pages are a bit boring, but once you get past that you can't put it down. Excellent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2006

    Down with Zeus, up with Moravecs

    As usual, Simmons expertly weaves multiple story lines into one grand story. This story has it all: little green men, gods, Odysseus, robots,...I could go on and on. I was reading 50-60 pages at a time near the end. I am very interested to see where Olympos takes this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2006

    great if you love the greek and roman gods

    it was pretty good, but i found myself skipping ahead to other, faster moving parts. Don't get me wrong I'm excited to read Olympos.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2006

    Expertly crafted Scifi

    As much as I loved Dan Simmons's Hyperion series, I must confess that Illium has succeeded in raising the bar. Everything that I loved about Hyperion is elevated to new heights in this epic tale that weaves the distant future and distant past into a colorful tapestry that kept me rapt from cover to cover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2005

    Simmons proves himself a master sci-fi writer once again

    As a Classics major (Greek and Roman culture studies, for those of you who don't know) I found this story to be incredibly entertaining. It is great to finally find an adaptation of the Iliad that does the epic some justice. (Unlike Troy, the movie, ::shudder::) The first page alone was enough to earn my respect and attention for the hundreds of pages that follow. You can tell Simmons has done his homework, and probably read and reread the Iliad hundreds of times. His forays into Shakespeare and Proust also are facinating and authentic. He isn't making up these interpretations, you can tell he's researched them all thoroughly. The same goes for the scientific aspects of the tale. Believability is the mark of a good writer, and although settings for this book take place thousands of years in the future, as well as on Mars, around Jupiter, and back in time to the Trojan War, he succeeds admirably. The concepts can get a little complicated in the thick of the story, but instead of being turned off by that, I was intrigued, and challenged to do my best to comprehend it. It was fantastic to finally find fiction that is incredibly intelligent, while also achieving a level of suspense and adventure rarely found in any genre. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2005

    A highly enjoyable read

    This is my first Simmons novel and it certainly won't be my last. As a previous reviewer said, the first 50 pages are a bit tedious, but if you can get through that, you are about to enjoy a very well crafted story that incorporates sci-fi, ancient Greek history, mythology along with some memoriable characters and dark humor. Don't let the index of characters in the back frighten you, Simmons does a great job of incorporating a ton of interesting characters, but it's never too many to keep up with. Looking forward to reading Olympos.

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