Eos, Jul 2003, 25.95, 592 pp.
The Greek Gods prefer human fodder to serve as scribes rather than wasting energy by doing it. Thus they send Dr. Thomas Hockenberry and several scholarly peers from the future into the past to study the war at Troy that “launched a thousand ships”.
Though the years of rebirth were painful, Thomas expects to have a grand old time of comparing reality to Homer. However being enslaved to the Greek Gods and a Muse is no fun, but worse is the reality on the Plains of Ilium. The romanticism of Homer and others seem out of place as Thomas sees the atrocities of the war and the idiocy of the legends. In fact he dreams of a B-52 dropping the A-bomb on these Plains to end the insanity. If that is not enough, adding to his dismay is that Aphrodite orders him to help her kill Athena.
While Thomas finds reality monstrously disappointing, robots research the terra-like created atmosphere of Mars and selfish people reside on a genetically different future Earth. Time means nothing in this universe.
Combine The Tempest and The Iliad into a strange well-written speculative fiction and what you have is ILIUM. The story line takes some adjustment with the anachronisms of Thomas and his transplanted peers discussing A-bombs while the pre BC Trojan War occurs. The cast is a delight and the three subplots blend together into a tremendous science fiction novel with fantasy elements that will elate the audience. However, don't tell your English teacher about Dan Simmons' chutzpah messing with the classics even if it is quite entertaining and successfully achieved.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner