Sunday, August 28, 2005

Catch-Up Literary Blogging

I'm trying to ease back into blogging gradually after the long vacation, so I'm going to try to get a little caught up on my book reports while I wait for my political muse to inspire me.

I believe the book that would be next up would be Ilium, by Dan Simmons. I've read some other stuff by Simmons, the Hyperions and Endymions and whatnot, and my impression was that he created a fascinating and compelling universe, but his prose was kind of jarringly clunky. Either he fixed that in Ilium, or I've just gotten used to it. Anyway.

There are three subplots, which gradually orbit into each other as the book progresses.

Subplot 1: The Greek gods (who are apparently some kind of high-tech "post-humans") have somehow resurrected a bunch of modern historians and sent them back into time to chronicle the siege of Troy, and confirm that everything is unfolding just as described in the Iliad. Apparently only Zeus actually knows how it turns out. One of the historians gets recruited by one of the gods to do some dirty work, and is not so keen on the idea. The descriptions of the battles and the various characters are quite raw and intriguing.

Subplot 2: Humans of the future have become naive, pampered, and eloi-like (not Eli-like), or like the people in Logan's Run or The Island, except 100 is the magic age instead of 30, and instead of Carousel or "The Island", the belief is that you go up to Earth's rings (yes, Earth has artificial rings now) to live with the post-humans. Almost no-one can read words or maps, and there are no long-range vehicles, because everyone just "faxes" from one place to another. And if someone gets killed, they just get faxed back into existence from a backup copy. Anyway, a small band of humans go on a quest to try to reach Earth's rings, led by The Wandering Jew. No, really.

Subplot 3: The robots/cyborgs ("moravecs") who work the moons of Jupiter have become alarmed by the fact that the post-humans appear to have terraformed Mars with alarming rapidity, and there are little green men erecting millions and millions of Easter Island-style heads there. They launch a covert mission to Mars to check it out and see what the post-humans are up to. Orphu of Io, Proust enthusiast, is one of the participants (and for some reason, he sounds like an Eschaton commenter to me...).

I leave it up to you to figure out how all these might fit together, and will also tease you with a mention that some literary figures, and not necessarily all Greek ones, show up in some rather unexpected places. Unfortunately, it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, so you (and I) need to read Olympos to see how it all turns out.


oldwhitelady said...

Subplot 2: Humans of the future have become naive, pampered, and eloi-like (not Eli-like)

I have to disagree with you. I read that book and it said "ELI-LIKE". Not "ELOI-LIKE".

Heh - No, I didn't really read it. I just like to be disagreeable now and then:)

Hey, my word for the day is "jobtm"

Anonymous said...

I read this book last summer and thought it went downhill after awhile. Plus it had typos and Simmon's use of Proust and Shakespeare's Sonnects were gratuitous.