Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
You know, it sounds a bit scary but I couldn’t find any weak points while reading this one. I was simply smitten as soon as I started it.
Imagine that in the future people can go back in time and e.g. witness the epic struggle between Trojans and Achaeans. Imagine that the Greek gods are made to exist just because irresponsible people gave them such an opportunity. Imagine that sentient machines can read and discuss Shakespeare and Proust while people cannot read or write, completely lost in the convenience of post-digital world. Well, actually you don’t have to imagine anything – just buy or borrow this one and read about it.
There was no boring threads for me in this novel – from the beginning to the very end I was equally entranced by the adventures of two moravec friends, Mahnmut and Orphu, and their literary discussions; I laughed really hard at struggles of a revitalized professor of classic literature, Hockenberry, who was forced to follow the siege of Troy and used that opportunity to jump to bed with Helen of Troy. Then there was the quest of Daemon, Savi and Harman to find out what’s wrong with their allegedly perfect and oh-so-conveniet world. I liked both male and female characters because they were well-rounded and sensible. I liked all those fantastic Shakespeare sonnets allusions and the fact that finally, finally somebody took Prospero and Caliban and made sci-fi sense of them.
Ok, I can find one problem – Ilium is only half the story. It stops at a huge cliffhanger and believe me, secure your access to the second part, Olympos as soon as it is possible. You will crave it.
In 2004, Ilium won the Locus Sci-Fi award. It wasn’t a coincidence. If you love great, imaginable sci-fi with a dash of classic literature mixed in-between don’t look any further – this is your book. Shakespeare-quoting humanoid robots, Greek Gods, post-humans, and old-style humans somehow make the craziest awesome story imaginable which will keep you entranced to the very end.