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Ilium (Ilium #1)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  16,790 ratings  ·  711 reviews

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 sentien

Paperback, 576 pages
Published August 7th 2003 by Gollancz (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-29 of 3,000)
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Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
If someone were to describe this book to me (if they even could), I don't know if I would believe how much I absolutely enjoyed it. Dan Simmons is a mad genius.

Shakespeare-quoting humanoid robots, Greek Gods, post-humans, and old-style humans somehow make the craziest awesome story imaginable.

Ilium is a story told through essentially three unrelated viewpoints. First, there's Hockenberry. This is told in first person. Hockenberry is called a "Scholic," a human from our the 20th century (our time
"Literary science fiction". One of the words in this phrase struggles and strains against the other two like an 18-month old who doesn't want to be picked up. It doesn't want to be associated with a genre that often is long on ideas and short on quality prose and sharp and distinct style. It often succeeds in escaping the pull of science fiction's weak gravity. Occassionaly, an author creates a story that is so dense that the word is held in place in an unstable orbit. Ultimately many of those f ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Most excellent.

I like SF, and I like much of what gets lumped under the rather stuffy title 'classic literature'. Clearly, so does Dan Simmons. Set in a very distant future, long after both AI and posthumans have merged, this novel contains three main storylines, all of which ventually intersect.

First, there's a group of languid, pleasure-seeking old-style humans living on old earth, all their needs taken care of by mechanical servitors left for them, presumably, by the posthumans. Upon comple
My review of Ilium in a nutshell:
“I liked it?”


I’m not sure if it is possible to be too ambitious when creating a plot for a novel, but Dan Simmons seems to be on a mission to find out. There are concepts, there are high concepts, and there are Dan Simmons concepts.

When it’s time for Simmons to begin a new novel, I picture something like this:

Dan Simmons is smoking a pipe (made from the bones of an aurochs), deep in the bowels of Stately Simmons Manor. Inspiration
Feb 18, 2015 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Quantum-tunneling gods, orbital Calibans, Shakespeare-loving robots
A fantastic sci-fi epic in the tradition of Simmons's Hyperion Cantos. In Ilium, as in the Hyperion books, Simmons really shows off his knowledge of classical literature. He obviously knows the Iliad and the Odyssey inside and out, but the author (through his characters) also fills this book with literary and historical references to Shakespeare, Proust, and a dozen other sources. It's ingenious and it made me to resolve to finally get around to reading the Iliad myself once I've finished this s ...more
James Williams
Sep 15, 2007 James Williams rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think that the Trojan war with nanites sounds like fun
According to the cover for Ilium, it was nominated for the Hugo Novel of the Year in 2004. It absolutely deserved it. It also didn't win, and it deserved that as well.

Don't get me wrong. It's a great book and I loved reading it (indeed, this was the second time I read it and I think I enjoyed it more the second time). It's really three stories all happening in different places in the solar system at the same time, inevitably approaching one another. It's rare to find a book tries this and does
Scott Rhee
I can't seem to say enough in the way of praise for Dan Simmons. The guy is a frickin' genius and one of the best writers working in any genre today.

"Ilium" is his science fiction magnum opus. It is a grand epic in the same way Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and Frank Herbert's "Dune" series were grand epics in their genre. The funny thing is Simmons's "Ilium" is a sci-fi epic ABOUT one of the greatest epics of all time, Homer's "The Iliad". Well, it's not so much about "The Iliad" as it
Jul 22, 2007 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans, literature fans
The Iliad serves as the starting point here ("Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles..."), and from there Dan Simmons proceeds to amaze you with some of the most literate science fiction you'll ever read. The story unfolds in three parts, which are skillfully woven together to increase dramatic tension as the plot lines spiral closer to each other. The end of Ilium is a soft stop, there is some closure but it leaves much open for the next book Olympos.

The science fiction is the good stuff that s
Prepare to have mind blown.

I like dense reads, and I like immersing myself in complex worlds created by brilliant minds... but never, NEVER have I read a more astonishingly complex novel. 1/2 the way through this gigantic mind bender I was still completely without a clue about what was going on in the book. The fact that I and so many others rate this book so highly tells you a little something about our Mr. Simmons and the quality of his writing. Who get's away with this?? Nobody does... excpet
In spite of the violent content, I really like Dan Simmons' Hyperion and its sequel.

This book looked like it had potential. For reasons unknown, the Greek gods are kicking it on Mars and the Trojan War is being fought with a lot of their participation.

Now the book starts throwing in all sorts of sci-fi wonders...nice, but not enough to save this.

First- it's far too detailed and has too many repeated references to the Iliad. Second, some seriously unbelievable things happen several times. And th
Dan Simmons, one of my favorite authors. This book has it all, it has the Trojans, Troy, and the Iliad. Aliens, robots, and Gods of all sizes. This book is a blast to read and will appeal to fantasy readers, science fiction readers, and even to historical fiction readers. A must read.
Nicholas Armstrong
A book should not be hard to read. To pick up a book, and to read the words and enjoy them should not be hard, it should just be. Reading this book was hard. Every moment I normally would pick up a book to read a little I would pick up this, and every time I did not look forward to it.

It baffles me; I could have sworn that I enjoyed Hyperion and that it was well-written, could I have been so wrong? This was not enjoyable, it was not well-written, and it was so hugely disappointing.

700 pages is
Holy bloody freakin' incredible hell. Or Hades. Whatever. I'm... I have no words. Seriously. This was beyond brilliant. I don't know who took Dan Simmon's brain, drugged it up, sprinkled it with colours and glitter to come up with THAT but please do it again. Often.

Ilium is a wild mixture of science-fiction, fantasy, a history (or should I say literature?) lesson, and awesomeness. And it's only the first part - don't think you can get in other books between Ilium and its sequel Olympos (I wante
Ilium defies description. It's epic sci-fi with huge twists, characters tempting fate, some fickle and furious Greek gods, Achilles and Hector from Homer's Iliad, Shakespeare-spouting robots from Jupiter, oh, and some trippy worm holes. It's good stuff. Video thoughts at
Jun 12, 2007 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not just sci-fi readers
The plot of this book is to complex to even attempt to go into but it has a dead historian recording events of the Trojan war for the gods, strange humans on a seemingly distant future earth, a machine race of explorers living on the outskirts of the solar system, and Shakespeare. Believe it or not they all go together in not such a surreal way as you might think. The characters are well rounded and evolve with the story. I don't know that it has important moral implications in the world but it ...more
Ivan Lutz
ZApravo puno lošije nego sam očekivao. Opet, Simmons piše kao nitko, precizan je i pjevan; ritmičan i bogat.. No, priča kao priča me malo(krc malo, puno) umorila, eto.
Warning - some spoilers in here.

I read this book as I had thoroughly enjoyed the author's short story in the 'Songs of the Dying Earth' compilation, and also as it is one of the few fiction stories out there with an ancient greek setting.

It is beautifully written particularly at the beginning - the world is richly described with histories, technologies, scientific concepts and races. Quantum technology, buckycarbon, macromolecular devices and fax nodes; old style humans, post-humans and moravec
Anthony Ryan
Masterly far-future sci-fi epicness from Dan Simmons. Thousands of years into Earth's future the human population has stagnated into a contented form of indulgent immortality; no-one dies and no-one goes hungry, but also no-one really does anything more interesting than the take part in the occasional sex party or get eaten by a cloned Allosaur. Meanwhile a present-day historian has been resurrected on Mars, apparently at the whim of the ancient Greek gods in order to act as observer to the sieg ...more
I could probably sit here and write a grad-school length essay about Dan Simmons' Ilium, an aircraft carrier of a novel if I've ever seen one, but in the interest of your time and mine, I'm going to avoid describing the plot (which you could readily find anywhere, although I would argue that you are better served by NOT looking up the plot) and generally also avoid discussing literary themes. Instead I just want to tell you why this novel is pretty awesome.

First of all, Ilium is just plain bold
An alternate future earth where humans have forgotten how to read. Living robots who share a love of classic literature. An ancient Greek battle where iconic heroes do battle with the gods of Olympus. Mix these all up in a space opera novel (or two) and you get the novels Ilium by Dan Simmons. This complex, lengthy tome is quite the journey, spanning two books (the second is Olympos, but I’m just writing one review for both novels).
The plot lines are so complicated and detailed (indeed, each b
Having recently reread the Iliad of Homer this book is a good follow-up both as a change, in genre, and as renewing my knowledge of the Iliad helps in understanding Simmons' novel. For in his novel Homer's relevance is more than an opening prop or gimmick. It is the Iliad that initially provides a bearing, a compass for the reader upon which the rest of the narrative depends, and without which, it could be argued, the rest, at least during the first third or so of the book, would unravel. This i ...more
Kat Hagedorn

How very unfortunate that Simmons' duologies fail with the second book as much as they succeed in the first book. I was really looking forward to reading Olympos, the second book of this duology, until I read the abysmal reviews.

But apparently, Simmons plays even more havoc with his created world-- that of a re-imagined Trojan War, set on Mars no less, and the Earth that can no longer house true humans except those who live exactly 100 years and have no culture to speak
Noah M.
I've read about 75% of The Iliad. I've seen the movie Troy. I've now read Ilium, which was a delightful science-fictiony retelling of the trojan war.

First, Fuck you Dan Simmons. You write long-ass books, that are good, and then you write long-ass sequels to them. With Hyperion, the sequels tended to not be even half the book the original was. Should I read the sequel here? I have no idea.

This book was solid. Good stuff. The only problem is, it sounds completely retarded if you try to explain the
Ilium is good but flawed. I wish I could give it three-and-three-quarters stars If you haven't read Homer lately, you may want to brush up before reading this book. I started reading Ilium then quickly put it down, read Homer's Iliad, and then came back and finished Dan Simmons' Ilium. I was glad I did. You'll get a lot more out of Dan Simmons' book if Homer is fresh on your mind.

Please see my review of Olympos for my take on both Ilium and Olympos, which are a set.
A Sci-Fi 're-telling' of the Siege of Troy with multiple storylines and lots of very original ideas - fascinating stuff.

It was interesting to see elements from multiple sources combined. I liked the virtual reality 'TV' show, the travelling by portal (the portals reminded me of those in Hyperion) and the appearance of the Magician Prospero (Shakespeare's 'the Tempest').

On the downside? I'm not really interested in the blood and guts of ancient battles and the fighting was described in minute det
I had great expectations when i first started to read this book. I knew and I was told that It wasn't gonna be Hyperion. And that's OK. But I still started to read waiting to be amazed. And I was. The start was a bit slow but as soon as I entered the world Dan Simmons created this time, as soon as i started to view into the characters i realized something:
1- Great beggining
2- Promising characters
3- Fantastic setting

This, as Hyperium, was an ambitious project. And it could have been a really goo
Nathan Bissett
It's hard to really say what this book is about. Going into it all I expected was the Trojan war, more specifically the Iliad, on Mars. That's what I had been told the book was about and that's what I was looking forward to. But then I started reading it and like all good books I did not get exactly what I was expecting. Nor did I get anything that I was expecting other than the Iliad vaguely taking place on Mars. There's gods, heroes, robots, regular human beings, and not so regular human being ...more
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SciFi and Fantasy...: Dan Simmons ? 1 28 Oct 09, 2012 06:51PM  
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Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, ...more
More about Dan Simmons...

Other Books in the Series

Ilium (2 books)
  • Olympos (Ilium, #2)
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2) The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #4) Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3) The Terror

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“Want to talk about Shakespeare's sonnets?" asked Orphu of Io.

Are you shitting me?" The moravecs loved the ancient human colloquial phrases, the more scatological the better.

Yes," said Orphu. "I am most definitely shitting you, my friend.”

Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles, of Peleus’ son, murderous, man-killer, fated to die, sing of the rage that cost the Achaeans so many good men and sent so many vital, hearty souls down to the dreary House of Death. And while you’re at it, Muse, sing of the rage of the gods themselves, so petulant and so powerful here on their new Olympos, and of the rage of the post-humans, dead and gone though they might be, and of the rage of those few true humans left, self-absorbed and useless though they have become. While you are singing, O Muse, sing also of the rage of those thoughtful, sentient, serious but not-so-close-to-human beings out there dreaming under the ice of Europa, dying in the sulfur ash of Io, and being born in the cold folds of Ganymede.

Oh, and sing of me, O Muse, poor born-against-his-will Hockenberry, dead Thomas Hockenberry, Ph.D., Hockenbush to his friends, to friends long since turned to dust on a world long since left behind. Sing of my rage, yes, of my rage, O Muse, small and insignificant though that rage might be when measured against the anger of the immortal gods, or when compared to the wrath of the god-killer Achilles.

On second though, O Muse, sing nothing of me. I know you. I have been bound and servant to you, O Muse, you incomparable bitch. And I do not trust you, O Muse. Not one little bit.”
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