Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ilium an Epic Novel

Ilium is set in mankind's distant future. Three stories unfold into a epic style journey only comparable in its complexity with its initial premise the Iliad. Mankind is now nothing but a shell of it former greatness, brought down by our lazyness, our ultimate demise. Unlike some distopia predicted by the likes of Gibson, Stevenson or even Tevis, this futrue is of opulence and decdence. Mankind neither creates, explores or builds, they live a dream life of being served and seeking only pleasure. On teriformed Mars at the base of Mons Olympos lies the plains of Ilium where the the Iliad is being replayed for the pleasure of the Greek Gods, all of them. Sent to investigate the happings on Mars is a team of robots/syborgs from depths of our solar system.

Unlike many dystopian futures of Gibson, Stevenson and Tevis, Simmons takes mankind down a more Wells or Clarke path. The advance technology, an ultimate liberating force, is the ultimate path to an Eloi way of life, sans Morlocs. Though the story of the remaining humans, after the Posts humans have gone, is a cross between Mockingbird and Logan's Run. The mind runs through "what would I do in that place" scenarios as we learn more and more about life after post humans. The world of earth is filled with the types of tech only the really future hungry can appreciate. The only thing none advanced is a the none faxing form of transport, walking or riding in alien pulled carts. Mankind has forgotten how to use most of the really cool stuff left around.

On the plains of Ilium the Trojan war rages on fueled by the Greek Gods. In the mix are a group of Professors called Scholics  specializing in Homer's Iliad. They observe the Iliad as it plays out reporting to the muses, who are in charge of the Scholics, any discrepancy's in the story line as it plays out. At first this is a bit tedious not quite as bad a reading the Iliad or for that matter any other work translated from Homer. The story does take on a life of its own as the the plot begins to thicken, in a way only the Greek Myths, or their modern day equivalent, the Soap Opera, can imbue. This then gets intwined with the robots from space.

Morvacs a race of robots inhabiting the solar system began to see strange quantum signatures from mars and notice odd figure heads poping up on coastlines across mars, reminiscent of easter island. Our Morvac mission comes under attack and almost comes to an end except for the aid of a cult like aliens "little green men". Even though they are not described as having three eyes I'm unable to see anything but the little green alien toys from Toy Story. The tail of the Morvacs is soon intertwined with the story of the Iliad being played out. 

Ilium was thoroughly an enjoyable read. I look forward to Olympos!

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