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.
Hugo and Stoker winner Simmons (Hyperion) makes a spectacular return to large-scale space opera in this elegant monster of a novel. Many centuries in the future, Earth's small, more or less human population lives an enjoyable, if drone-like existence. Elsewhere, on some alternate Earth, or perhaps it's the distant past, the battle for Troy is in its ninth year. Oddly, its combatants, Hector, Achilles and the rest, seem to be following a script, speaking their lines exactly as Homer reported them in The Iliad. The Gods, who live on Olympus Mons on the planet Mars, may be post-humans, or aliens, or, well, Gods; it isn't entirely clear. Thomas Hockenberry, a late-20th-century professor of the classics from De Pauw University in Indiana, has, along with other scholars from his era, apparently been resurrected by the Gods. His job is to take notes on the war and compare its progress to Homer's tale, noting even the smallest deviations. Meanwhile, the "moravecs," a civilization of diverse, partially organic AIs clustered on the moons of Jupiter, have been disturbed by the quantum activity they've registered from the inner solar system and have sent an expedition to Mars to investigate. It will come as no surprise to the author's fans that the expedition's members include specialists in Shakespeare and Proust. Beautifully written, chock full of literary references, grand scenery and fascinating characters, this book represents Simmons at his best.
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Who else could could have conceived this stupendous and glorious amalgamation of Homer, Shakespeare, Proust and hard sci-fi other than Dan Simmons? It is utterly mind boggling and captivating, superbly written and amazing. We have Achilles and Aphrodite, Helen of Troy, rubbing shoulders with 20th Century Homeric scholars, AI robots named after leaders in robotic
science, many worlds interpretations of quantum physics, solipsism, Greek Gods, battles with swords and spears juxtaposed with quantum teleportation, mages and monsters from the Tempest, human evolution, terraforming and this just touches the surface.
His humor is subtle eg Spoiler Alert — Mahnmuts introduction to Odysseus presaging the latter’s crafty use of the no man appellation in the cyclops episode from the Odyssey. I am sure I have missed more such nuggets.
Mr Simmons, you are a genius. As great as the Hyperion Cantos, and so much fun to read. I have read this twice now and will do so again. Even if one has only vague recollections of the referenced classics, you can enjoy this.
Epic in it's Scope
Obviously based on The Iliad this huge story blends Science Fiction with literal influences from Homer and Shakespeare. The true genius here is how he makes it all work. An amazing work.
One of the most ambitious books I've ever read! Simmons delivers in every possible way!