Monday, June 01, 2009


I have finally, at long last, finished Olympos by Dan Simmons. Ah! What blessed relief is mine! I was determined to get through this book, and I have succeeded. I won't say I hated it as much as I've hated some other books. I won't say it. I was so looking forward to it, too. I was amazed by the Hyperion Cantos, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ilium. I've been trying to finish my hard back first edition of Olympos for years. It's been like slogging through mud, the going has been so slow. I can't help but wonder what happened. The book rambles on and on and on. I thought the characters would talk me to death. But I survived.

from the dust jacket:
Beneath the gaze of the gods, the mighty armies of Greece and Troy met in fierce and glorious combat, scrupulously following the text set forth in Homer's timeless narrative. But that was before one observer—Twenty-first Century scholar Thomas Hockenberry—stirred the bloody brew; before an enraged Achilles joined forces with his archenemy Hector; and before the fleet-footed mankiller turned his murderous wrath on Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Apollo, and the entire pantheon of divine manipulators.

Now, all bets are off.

Dan Simmons, the multiple-award-winning author of The Hyperion Cantos, returns with the eagerly anticipated conclusion to his critically acclaimed, Hugo Award-nominated sf epic Ilium. A novel breathtaking in its scope and conception, Olympos ingeniously imagines a catastrophic future where immortal "post-humans" high atop the real Olympos Mons on Mars restage the Trojan War for their own amusement even while the sad remnants of mortal humankind are forced to confront their ultimate annihilation.

For untold centuries, those few old-style humans remaining on Earth have never known strife, toil, or responsibility, each content to live his or her allocated hundred years of life in unquestioning leisure. But virtually overnight and for reasons beyond their comprehension, the world around them has changed forever. The voynix—terrible and swift creatures that once catered to their every need—are now massing in the millions with but one terrifying purpose: the total extermination of the human race.

Having traveled farther and learned more of the wondrous and terrible truth of their world than any others of their kind, Ada and Daeman—with the aid of the crafty and mysterious warrior once called Odysseus, now called Noman—must marshal the pathetic defenses of Ardis Hall in anticipation of the onslaught of the murderous voynix. And they must do so without Harman, Ada's lover and the father of her unborn child, who wanders the Earth on a great odyssey of his own. Harman seeks nothing less than the limitless knowledge necessary to defeat Setebos, an unspeakable, otherworldly monster who feeds on horror, and whose arrival heralds the end of all things.

And meanwhile, back on Mars . . .

The vengeful rebellion of Achilles—and the intervention of sentient robots from Jovian space, determined to prevent a potentially universe-obliterating quantum catastrophe—has set immortal against immortal, igniting a civil war among Olympian gods that may send all things in Heaven and Earth and everywhere in between plummeting straight to Hell.

A monumental work that blurs the often arbitrary line between great sf and serious literature, Dan Simmons's Olympos—together with its extraordinary predecessor, Ilium—sets new standards for the genre, confirming his reputation as one of the most original authors currently working in the field of speculative fiction. and SFSite like it. Infinity Plus doesn't like it. Neither does The Guardian:
Unfortunately, Olympos is not sci-fi at its best - or even Dan Simmons at his best. He seems to think that he can demonstrate his literary credentials by plopping down undigested chunks of Shakespeare and Proust.
Homer refrained from describing the penis of Zeus being jerked off by rosy-fingered Dawn. Simmons, alas, has no such inhibitions. Nor does he have Joyce's talent for sexual fantasy.

Steven Wu gave it a score of 1 out of a possible 10 and says,
What the hell happened?
Olympos, the sequel (and conclusion) to Ilium, shares none of its predecessor's strengths and grossly exaggerates its weaknesses.
I would still recommend that people read Ilium, which is an excellent trashy science fiction novel. But for God's sake, don't read the sequel.

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