Ilium

Ilium

by Dan Simmons

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380817924
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/28/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 150,019
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.53(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About 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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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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Ilium 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 123 reviews.
Scott Spencer More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
stichr More than 1 year ago
A little hard to grab the story line in the beginning, but stick with it, it's worth it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Boo34 More than 1 year ago
I'm completely blown away by Dan Simmon's books. This one was great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
towo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ilium is an epic, dealing with the fate of humanity. The opening is the classical opening of the Illiad adjusted to fit the personal story of one Thomas Hockenberry, PhD, who finds himself documenting his field of study long after his death, on the plains of ilium. Simultaneously, there's a finite number of humans still living a stable, yet dull life on Earth proper and cybernetic mining robots in the depth of space.Such is the setting, and Simmons once again masters telling an epic story, again dealing with the fate of mankind after a technological singularity event.The characters, the story, the setting, they all come together to form a simply great work, only slightly marred by the length of the story.
MEStaton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting book but I am afraid it kind of fell down in some places for me. I've been spoiled by the splendour of Hyperion. Although Ilium does have some unique and compelling elements it is both too epic to not have a completed and ending and too complicated to be completely enraptured with.Simmons does use his wealth of literary knowledge throughout this work however it is often disjointed and incongruos. To me this was like reading three books at the same time. We have the Trojan War played out and witnessed by a contempary human. We have Shakespeares sonnets and The Tempest driving a different set of characters and events completely and also a smattering do Proust.Although the story does attempt to tie the three different threads together it is left unfinished. However, the attempt to read this took so much effort in places and much of the literary discussion and conversations about quantum physics felt like filler or info dumps that I'm not particularly inclined to read the sequal.There was just so much going on and so many characters to follow. I did find some of the action and characters interesting and did read the whole thing hoping to get somewhere conclusive with them but felt left down at the end that I would be expected to work my way through 600+ more pages toward any resolution. I might try to read Olympos but not for a while as it seems like too mammoth a task.
mummimamma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Horribly uninteresting, even with my special interest anything historic/Greek. The persons were uninteresting at best, pathetic at worst. Did the writer only write this so he could go to bed with the world's most beautiful fictional character?If you ever come by my house you can have my copy.
thelorelei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 so enjoyed being in the dark.
asciiphil on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After the tedious Quicksilver, Ilium was a welcome change. It's a wonderful blend of science fiction and Greek myth.As Simmons' Hyperion was infused with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, so Ilium works from Homer's Iliad. One of the central events of the book is the siege of Troy. In Ilium, however, the gods are more science fiction than fantasy--they accomplish their majestic feats via nanotechnology and quantum manipulation. And the events in the Iliad are only a rough third of the events in Ilium.The book opens with the words of a twentieth-century Homeric scholar, in a very deliberate reference to the opening of the Iliad. That scholar has been resurrected by the gods and sent to observe the unfolding of events that shaped the Iliad. The following chapter introduces humans living on Earth several thousand years past the 20th century, in a world largely abandoned--the "post-humans" meddled with the planet, cleaned up some of their mess, and left it to the old-style humans, whose lives they continue to regulate. The third chapter sets the stage for the third storyline, involving sentient organic/inorganic machines that live and work among the moons of Jupiter.Into all three storylines, the reader is dropped without much backstory; the shape of the world in which the characters live must be gleaned from details in the story's telling. And the threads don't tie themselves together until a distance into the book.The single best thing about the book, however, is the writing. Simmons does a very good job of taking these disparate threads, blending them together while painting the backdrop for the story, and weaving a thoroughly engaging tale.Ilium certainly deserves its Hugo nomination. I can't speak to whether it should win, since I haven't read most of its competitors, but if it does, I'll not be disappointed.
Bbec on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
loved the idea. sci fi, meet the olympic gods!!! good "inbetweener" for the sci-fi to fantasy (or vice versa) readers.
Reysbro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though I wasn't prepared for the mythology in this tale I enjoyed it thoroughly and am now rushing forward to "Olympos" to find out what happens and more importantly what happened really.
Cecrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my new favourite by Dan Simmons, having previously read his Hyperion duology and The Terror. The pace is fantastic and nearly every chapter contains another fascinating twist or revelation. It is definitely not the kind of book that leaves you sitting around waiting for something to happen. The book jacket is one of the best I've ever read: extremely obtuse and tells you very little, but within seventy-five pages it makes perfect sense while giving nothing away.Since events of Homer's Illiad come strongly into play, you might get more enjoyment if you're at least familiar with the major events of that epic, though I wouldn't call it a requirement. I've never read Homer but I had enough familiarity with it to appreciate the parallels in this novel. If you were truly setting out to do all the background reading then you'd also have to cover Faust, and Shakespeare's The Tempest. Something like A Brief History of Time wouldn't hurt either to understand some of the science better, but that's even less necessary.I don't know if Mr. Simmons would appreciate it, but I kept picturing Pixar's Wall-E during the Mahnmut chapters...
webguy94301 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marvelous concept of a story weaving ancient greek history, mythology and science fiction into one story -- great concept and story line
LegalMove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hyperion was by far Simmons' best attempt to blend sci-fi with classic literature. This reworking of the Trojan myth is fun at times, but also a bit forced.
Unreachableshelf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dan Simmons wasn't kidding when, in reference to this book, he described a cartoon in which a nineteenth century publisher was saying "How about if we bring out War, now, and then Peace next year?" This and Olympos are really one story in two volumes, not a book and its sequel.Millenia in the future, unknown forces have recreated the Trojan War on a terraformed Mars, along with the best Classics scholars from the nineteenth-twenty first centuries to study them. On the moons of Jupiter, semi-organic, evolving robots called moravecs have become concerned with the quick terraforming and high levels of quantum activity on Mars. On Earth, post-literate humanity is about to face the end of life as they know it.There are flaws in this story to be sure. The classics professor Hockenberry who is our narrator for the Trojan War chapters (until the plot threads meet, that is) is rather too sure that his perceptions of ancient Greek/Trojan society are correct and that all others are the result of looking at it through the wrong, modern lense, instead of acknowledging that he can't be sure that his perception of a mindset three thousand years older than his is correct, either. There is something of the male Mary Sue in having him sleep with Hellen of Troy when only making her acquaintence is necessary. However, the conversations between the moravecs, Mahnmut and Orphu, on Proust and Shakespeare more than make up for those flaws. Everybody with any interest in science fiction and the Trojan War should give this a chance.
Clueless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a strange and wonderful book. This may be the weirdest book I've ever read. That is a good thing.While Kurzweil's "Singularity" is frightening this book fleshes out the nanobot infected characters and actually make some of them sympathetic. The two Moravecs were my favorite. Both their story and characters.While I will forgive Simmons for having his time travelers utter modern phrases I think in the long run that will date the book.Instead of alternating two narratives there are three in this book. I usually hate this method but here I'll be forgiving.Such a wonderful twist on things- weaving robots, the Trojan war and immortality a.o. into one coherent story. Simmons must be a watcher of classic Star Trek. Also in parts it reminded me a teeny bit of Gregory's Tudor series where she fleshes out historical characters and gives them plausible motives. Ilium takes fractured fairy tales to a whole new level.It wasn't clear to me what was so awful about the firmary that it needed to be destroyed.Favorite snippets;"I'd give half my Proust library if I had jsut one of my six eyes back.""But what kind of freedom is it? The freedom to mock everything?""He'd never run, even as a child. It was an absurd thing to do.""I don't know what is going to happen next. It's wonderful."
katie.chase on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Man makes war on the gods! Simmons brings together all these different threads: the moravecs, the humans, the post-humans, Shakespeare's sonnets, the Tempest, the Iliad, and he totally succeeds, in my book. I enjoyed every step of the way.
libraryofus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How can one resist a book in which things that probably used to be human are role-playing the Iliad, sentient robots set out from Jupiter to investigate, and pampered, ignorant people on Earth somehow get caught up in the eddies thereby generated?
rphbamf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
LastCall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As usual with Simmons it was a fast read. I was hooked from the begining and cant wait to read the next book. I did notice some similarities with the Hyperion books so I wonder about the connection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago