|Dan Simmons' Ilium (Locus Award Winner 2004)|
Next on the list: a brief review of Ilium, a book I recently read and highly recommend to any serious sci-fi/fantasy fans.
Ilium portrays the lives of several people far in the future--namely the reborn scholic Hockenberry in a futuristic, terraformed Mars where the Greek gods oversee the great Trojan war as fictionalized in Homer's Iliad/Odyssey, a moravec (space robot)--Mahnmut of Europa who has an avid interest in Shakespeare's sonnets, and the eloi-human Harman of a futuristic, Orson Welles' The Time Traveler inspired Earth filled with naive humans while evil gods from another dimension threaten the fabric of the entire universe.
As you may be able to tell from the huge sentence I just wrote, this book is damn complicated. But Dan Simmons manages to weave this highly intertextual "literary science fiction" piece well--there is much character development from the lowly Harman to the Greek gods themselves; along with plenty of action, amazing mind-pictures and panoramas, romance, greed, destruction, and violence. Even those who wouldn't consider themselves sci-fi readers would probably find Ilium a great read.
Simmons manages not to have any glaring plot holes, grammar errors, or generally annoying literary mistakes--he also honors the literature that he pulls elements from--perhaps inspiring further interest in Prousts' In Search of Lost Time, Homer's works: the Iliad and the Odyssey, along with Shakespearen sonnets and many other titles. However, this is a book that will probably never be required reading--it's too entertaining and interesting.
At 731 pages, Ilium requires a lot of time investment. But if I've piqued your interest enough, it's well worth it to read.