Ilium

by Dan Simmons

Reviewed by Coral


The Gods of Mount Olympus have brought back long dead Trojan War scholars back to life (and, seemingly, into the past) to observe the still raging Trojan War. For Thomas Hockenberry, the longest surviving scholic, there has always been the question of how the gods can know enough about the future to know who to bring back from the dead but not know how the war ends. Though he's learned not to ask questions; scholics who anger the gods don't tend to live very long.

Moravecs are sentient bio-mechanical organisms that live in the outer solar system. Since the disappearance of the post-humans (the next step in evolution above humans, I think) the Moravecs have been observing the inner solar system more closely. They've recently noticed a lot of quantum teleportation happening on Mars, plus the fact it seems to have been terraformed while they weren't watching, and the unusual presence of little green workers building rows of giant stone heads. The Moravecs of Jupiter and its moons are planning an expedition to see what's going on. But unbeknownst to friends Mahnmut and Orphu, others in the expedition have been given other orders.

Back on Earth, the rubicon virus nearly wiped out the original humans; only a little over 9000 survived. Fourteen hundred years ago the post-humans promised them salvation. They would be faxed (their atoms held in storage) while the post-humans cleaned up the world (things had become a little crazy). Only that never happened.

Now the earth has been repopulated with new humans, made in the image of original humans. Supposedly there are a million of them across the world, cared for by the voynix - who just kind of showed up on Earth one day, silent and unmoving, and then just kind of woke up. Every 20 years they are faxed to the Earth's rings - home of the post-humans - to the firmary for maintenance. On their 5th twenty at 100 years old they will ascend for good.

Only Savi, last surviving original human, knows that things are not as they seem. She knows that the post-humans have disappeared. So what really goes on in the firmary? Savi isn't the only one questioning; Harman, a new human about to reach his 5th twenty also wants to know. Together with his friends Ada and Hannah, they reach out to Daemon, the one new human, rumour has it, who knows where to find a spaceship.

As all three stories weave together, survival for everyone may depend not only one what is found in Earth's rings, but also in re-writing the history of the Trojan War.

To be honest, the first time I tried reading this book, I gave up before the 100 page mark. I found it just too confusing. But it was too interesting sounding a book to give up on completely. Coming back to it now, I found it a little less confusing, though it was still a little hard to understand completely at some parts.

I enjoyed watching the 3 story lines come together, because at the very beginning I couldn't figure out how that was going to happen. Although I do think it took a little too long for characters from the 3 stories to interact with each other.

One other complaint is that I found it annoying when a character was asked a question and they wouldn't answer, putting it off with a "Later". I think Savi did this more than any character, when she was asked big, important questions. After a while it seemed like a clumsy way for the author to put off big reveals.

Grade: B