Author: Dan Simmons
Pages: 752; 912
There are books with ideas, grandeur and power of imagination that are difficult to be reviewed. Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons are exactly that kind of novels, and I can only write that they just blew my mind. Simmons mixes people, places and events united by the mystery of what happened on Earth 1 400 years ago (but in the far away future). The centre of all is the ancient Trojan War as you have never seen before. The Greek gods are equipped with high modern technologies which appear like magic to the ancient people. There are also scholastics, resurrected humans from different times in the history, whose main goal is to report to the Gods the key events in the war. Suddenly the Trojan War turns out in an unexpected way and this is no longer the Iliad you know. You will see some of the famous Greek heroes set off on different journeys.
Another plot line follows the moravecs, biomechanical robots with artificial intellect, who inhabit the rings of the planet Jupiter and built a society there. A team of moravecs is sent to Mars in order to see what happens on the planet, due to the increasing quantum activity, which threatens the stability of the Solar system. But an unexpected surprise on Mars catches the team and the only survivors are Mahnmut and Orphu. Both of them are funny characters, Mahnmut is a passionate admirer of Shakespeare and Orphu of Proust. They converse about the works of the authors and make some very profound conclusions. Actually the masterpieces, The Tempest, by Shakespeare and In Search of Lost Time by Proust, are key factors for the mystery. Also Mars is a point of intersection for all plot lines and the revelation of the truth.
The third and last storyline follows the adventures of four old-style humans – Daemon, Harman, Ada and Hannah. The lived in a society built only in luxury and hedonistic pleasures. They don’t know illness, crimes but neither the need to work. The mechanical servants take care of everything. The old-style humans travel using faxnode (teleportation portals) that can carry them from point A to point B for seconds. This is a society without a culture and humans forgot how to read, more over to create new things. The lifetime of every person is determined to 100 years and after that he goes to the ring around Earth joining the mysterious post-humans – a group of humans, evolving in the past and achieved great technological success.
And this is a small part of the story in which the themes about a destiny and its predetermination, meaning of life, religion, death, evolution, war and hatred intertwine. Does intellectual superior make a person more intelligent towards life? A lot of themes to think about, weaved into an original story, that keeps you on the edge till the last page.
It may seem like the storyline is a wild cacophony, but really everything is composed beautifully and has a perfect explanation. Some of the revelations and denouements haven’t been a surprise. But the true power of the books is not the original idea, no matter how interesting it is, it exceptionally lays on the various interpretations and thoughts included. Summarising with one word – Magnificent!