Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I finally finished reading Olympos, the sequel to Ilium, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Everything in Ilium that seemed open ended and inexplicable was ramped up and tied up and explained in Olympos, and Simmons did an amazing job of tying together Greek/Roman mythology and history, Shakespeare, Proust, bits of literature from all over the map, and science fiction. Unlike the reviewer on Amazon who wrote, "I think authors, especially science fiction authors, should at least attempt to come up with original ideas instead of cobbling together something from the works of ancient authors such as Homer and Shakespeare", I think it's wonderful when authors go to a great deal of trouble to acknowledge how they arrived at some of their ideas - heck, one fourth of them are usually grabbing something from the Bible or Shakespeare. The whole point of Simmons' books is that the greatness of those artists and their works created new universes and influenced all the individuals in the current universe, so far as to force them into molds of conformity, despite their superhuman ability to do anything they wanted. Rather than do something new, the power of those old works and stories pulled them back into recreating those events and storylines for them to live in. Even the creations of humans - robots with a bit of humanity in them - are obsessed with the great thinkers and artists of human history. The series is about finally breaking out of that mold in many respects and creating a new set of stories and a new history (with an interesting little aside about what sort of forces are unleashed by people who don't care about the artists of this world, only life in the next).

And Achilles - well, if you truly feel that the Greek hero deserves some sort of sanctity of image - this isn't the book for you. But if you recognize that no matter how one paints a warrior, they still kill, lust, and are driven by needs which can almost seem ridiculous when taken off the battlefield, then he makes a lot of sense, more sense than Ulysses who knows enough to tame his nature off the battle field, and yet still seems bounded by his warrior nature.

In the end, the book is really just quite a bit of fun and a step above Ilium precisely because it seems to be having more fun and because most things that were confusing in that book really are explained, although only as many things as can be dreamt up in Simmons philosophy.

No comments: