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 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
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
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.
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.
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