From the towering heights of Olympos Mons on Mars, the mighty Zeus and his immortal family of gods, goddesses, and demigods look down upon a momentous battle, observing - and often influencing - the legendary exploits of Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and the clashing armies of Greece and Troy.
Thomas Hockenberry, former 21st-century professor and Iliad scholar, watches as well. It is Hockenberry's duty to observe and report on the Trojan War's progress to the so-called deities who saw fit to return him from the dead. But the muse he serves has a new assignment for the wary scholic, one dictated by Aphrodite herself.
With the help of 40th-century technology, Hockenberry is to infiltrate Olympos, spy on its divine inhabitants...and ultimately destroy Aphrodite's sister and rival, the goddess Pallas Athena. On an Earth profoundly changed since the departure of the Post-Humans centuries earlier, the great events on the bloody plains of Ilium serve as mere entertainment.
Its scenes of unrivaled heroics and unequaled carnage add excitement to human lives devoid of courage, strife, labor, and purpose. But this eloi-like existence is not enough for Harman, a man in the last year of his last 20. That rarest of post-postmodern men - an "adventurer" - he intends to explore far beyond the boundaries of his world before his allotted time expires, in search of a lost past, a devastating truth, and an escape from his own inevitable "final fax." Meanwhile, from the radiation-swept reaches of Jovian space, four sentient machines race to investigate - and, perhaps, terminate - the potentially catastrophic emissions of unexplained quantum-flux emanating from a mountaintop miles above the terraformed surface of Mars.
©2003 Dan Simmons (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
(3.5 stars) I think there was some Star Trek episode in which characters from a fictional work were brought to life by advanced technology and wrought havoc, until Kirk remembered his classics. This novel is that idea on steroids. We get Shakespeare and Proust-quoting robots from the moons of Jupiter, and classical Greek gods who dwell on Mount Olympus -- on Mars -- and use nanotechnology and quantum doodads to intervene in a parallel universe in which the events of The Iliad are taking place, almost exactly as Homer described them.
Dan Simmons set a high bar with Hyperion, which remains one of my favorite science fiction novels (I’m less enthusiastic about its followups). That book proved that space opera can play games with literary intertextuality, and it also had a great universe and some page-turning mysteries. So I was half skeptical, half optimistic about this one.
I’ll give Simmons credit for having the skill to suck me into the story, in spite of my skepticism. The Iliad storyline, in which a 20th century Homeric scholar named Thomas Hockenberry was somehow resurrected by the gods to be an expert observer of the Trojan War (which only Zeus can foresee the outcome of), seemed well-researched and was a lot of fun, though it was helpful that I had recently read a translation of the Iliad. Hockenberry, ever the jaded academic, manages to manipulate the poem’s characters, who stay in character, towards breaking free of their prescribed fates.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, where about two thousand years have gone by since our time, a small population of “old-style” humans lives lives of leisure and ignorance, cared for by machines that post-humans left behind when they departed centuries ago. A group of these humans has begun to suspect that things have not always been this way, and embark on a hunt for answers on a planet that’s changed quite a bit since our time. With a little help from their new friend, Odysseus. The third thread concerns two moravecs from Jupiter, where their kind has evolved over the centuries, who crash-land on a now-terraformed Mars, and soon discover that knowledge of Shakespeare (not to mention Proust’s thoughts on the strangeness of time) might apply to their situation.
In terms of writing, I thought this one was only sometimes up the dark brilliance of Hyperion, but still a good ride. Simmons is at his best when he’s immersing the reader in a scene (as he does fantastically in some of the Troy sequences) or doing clever mashups (as with a creepy space station monster who speaks in Shakespeare mode), and less so when he’s going through the workmanlike process of having characters run or teleport around the map in order to connect pieces of his far-flung plot and themes (look for the annoying SF trope of invoking “quantum” to explain the essentially magical). How Simmons will pull everything together in the second, final book remains for me to see, but I find the ideas he seems to be going for interesting. Might old myths and legends, which have stayed in our collective memory so far, still be haunting us in whatever post-human, post-post-modern future is to come? "We're not fighters", says one character. "Oh, yes you are," replies another, "it's still in your genes". I also liked the little in-jokes, such as a scene in which Hockenberry, annoyed with how his PC fellow academics kept reading gay tendencies into certain Iliad characters, discovers that the truth is a little... ambiguous.
Audiobook narrator Kevin Pariseau is competent enough, but I think he does better at humor than drama. His wry Hockenberry is amusing, but his gods and heroes are a little lacking in gravitas.
I wish I could get paid to listen to books....
Hockenberry is my favorite character, the average guy, in over his head. He just wants to survive and at the same time, screw the gods.
Not my favorite narrator, Simon Vance would have been a better choice.
Homer and the rest would probably hate this story, but I liked it. Simmons is not afraid to take on Dickens, Homer, Hemingway, or anybody else. He makes the average writer look bad, sometimes I think he is just showing off. Time will tell if people are still reading his books two hundred years from now. Classic Simmons, playing havoc with the classics.
Checking out Brandon Sanderson's work
This is an interesting story that takes quite a bit of time to figure out. I hate the ending as it really just says there will be a sequal - but up to that point it is fairly interesting. It will make you read up on the Illiad as a large part of the book involves a re-enactment of the battle of troy on Mars. Kind of interesting.
The performance is very good. The read does a great job of portraying the characters and there is very good character development. There are a few things left to the next book - I felt somewhat cheated there especially since the sequel did not get very good reviews. But worth the read/listen.
The book mixes futuristic sci-fi with the events that occurred in Homer's poem The Iliad. It does so in such an excellent manner as to make me want to read/study the Iliad again! This audio book also seems to take pieces from Dan Simmon's other excellent works in the Hyperion Cantos. I found myself thinking back to Hyperion many times while listening to this book.
The narrator is solid as well imparting the perfect cynical tone to the main character.
Yes. I'm a big fan of Simmon's stories, and this is another great time warping, world building, epic installment.
Honestly, it's tough to pick out a single stand out point. I listened to the story pretty quickly, and thuroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I particularly enjoyed the Moravec storyline.
Unfortunately, the narrator almost trivialized the entire story for me. There was very little differentiation between characters, and regardless of the way the dialogue was supposed to be interpreted ("he shouted," "her voice shaking," "rumbled Zues, the god of gods,") the narrator generally imparted a plain conversational or petulantly comedic voice. The story would have been far more dynamic and engaging with a more equipped narrator. The silver lining: I thought he did an incredible job with Caliban's character.
It was a little too long for that kind of endeavor, but I did get through this story quicker than usual.
Despite the lackluster narration, Simmons' incredible world building and imagination come through. I'll certainly be tackling Olympos sometime soon (but probably on my Kindle).
At first I'm listening to this book and I'm, "What?" And then it's over.
I love this author, especially his great characters. I read Hyperion and listened to the rest of the series. This book was a great counter weight to the other works I've read and listened to so far.
McCarthy king Martin Abercrombie Sanderson and Tolkien My favorite book as of 900 listened to ... Sutree
this is my favorite simmons story so far less snobby than hyperion and more fun its worth it just to hear Achilles throwing f bombs and what red blooded nerd boy hasn't wanted to fight in the Trojan war?
Do you like science fiction about robots? Post-apocalyptic sci-fi? Alternate history sci-fi? Congratulations, Dan Simmons has written a book for you! He's hit-and-miss, but when he hits, he hits hard. Kevin Pariseau does a good job on the narration--nothing mind-blowing, but not distracting. I can't wait for the next volume!
"Very good albeit challenging read"
Essential reading if you like the author's Hyperion/Endymion books. More of a challenge as you are pitched straight in to the futuristic terminology, without the introduction that Hyperion 1 gives to the earlier series. I had to check the wikipedia page a few times! Some of the pronunciation isn't what I expected, eg Jupiter's moon Io is pronounced 'ee-oh' by the reader, where I'd have expected 'eye-oh' (aɪ.oʊ).
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