I finished my latest book, Ilium, a week or so ago. I didn't get around to write about it until today. Seems fitting though, I received the book at Christmas as part of a Great Stack of Wishlist Titles and kept being put off to reading it by the shear size of the book. In hardcover, it's 592 pages and several inches thick.
Once I got reading though, I couldn't put it down. I should known. I read Simmon's Hyperion Series at a similar furious pace.
The story takes place in the far future, with plenty of high technology in every corner of the solar system. We follow three basic story lines, the humans on what appears to be idyllic paradise on earth, sentient robots exploring the outer solar system, and what appears to be an exact reenactment of the Trojan War, including the Greek Gods.
Literature plays a large role in the book and it would be good to have a passing knowledge of Homer's Illiad, Shakespeare's Sonnets, and Marcel Proust. I've read the Illiad and much Shakespeare, but not much Proust.
The story begins with life moving along normally for the characters with no sign of the drama about to begin. As Simmons has done in other novels, he draws the seperate story lines tighter and tighter together, leaving mini-cliffhangers along the way. He puts a lot of details in early in the story and you will find yourself checking back to the earlier chapters during the book to confirm that it all really does fit together so tightly. Simmons has obviously planned the novel out in great detail before getting to the actually writing of the prose. Science Fiction readers adore consistency and continuity and it's here in the is novel in droves.
The main theme I read was the idea that all is not as it seems and that those that appear to be in charge, are not really in charge. The book is a series of unveilings to the characters that they are not as powerful or weak as they have thought previously. Interesting thoughts in these days of global hegemony...
The technology in the book is secondary to the main story line of rebellion and appearance versus reality of power, but it is interesting enough to to keep a geek's mind spinning at the possibilities mentioned. While not firmly in the realm of hard sc-fi, the book does have a goodly amount of fun ideas.
The ending is a cliffhanger leading to the second novel in the series, Olympos, due in the fall. I anxiously await the release.
Dan Simmons has a good web site, full of information and even a message board that the author reads and replies to regularly.
Posted by michael at June 03, 2004 07:10 AM