Ilium (Book Review)

Ilium by Dan Simmons is a tome of a book that mixes sci-fi with Greek mythology. Although I have some basic understanding of that period, I think I lacked some background to enjoy some of the subtleties. Besides that I also found it to be too long (description of traveling or other such things) for the content. And of course, it stops right before a climactic fight which will be the start of Olympos (part 2 of duology).

“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.”

The novel centers on three character groups: that of Hockenberry (a resurrected twentieth-century Homeric scholar whose duty is to compare the events of the Iliad to the reenacted events of the Trojan War), Greek and Trojan warriors, and Greek gods from the Iliad; Daeman, Harman, Ada, and other humans of an Earth thousands of years after the twentieth century; and the “moravec” robots (named for scientist and futurist Hans Moravec) Mahnmut the Europan and Orphu of Io, also thousands of years in the future, but originating in the Jovian system. The novel is written in first-person, present-tense when centered on Hockenberry’s character, but features third-person, past-tense narrative in all other instances. Much like Simmons’ Hyperion, where the actual events serve as a frame, the three groups of characters’ stories are told over the course of the novel and begin to converge as the climax nears.”