Book Reviews 2006 #50: Olympos

The second of the Ilium Diptych, by Dan Simmons.


Olympos
Olympos continues the story set out in Ilium, as the Trojans and Achaeans face the post-human Greek Gods on Mars, moravecs from the outer solar system try to discover and uncover the the truth of matters, the remaining humans on Earth struggle to survive inan Eden suddenly turned deadly, and a resurrected scholic Thomas Hockenberry records it all.
I was disappointed.
There are some interesting motifs and allusions here, same as the first, as we discover the true origins of the Greek Gods, Prospero, Caliban and others from the first novel. We see heroism, sacrifice and growth from their eloi like state by the humans on Earth. We get a sense of just how we got here, from the 21st century to this post-human world, and get to see more of the post-human Earth, in lovely detail.
Much of it is fun to read.
And yet it is not enough. The book ends, for lack of a better word, abruptly. One character, Odysseus, seems absolutely broken by the end, acting far out of character, and inexplicably, in order to tie off his thread, and the threat that an old foe of his brings. While I can accept another antagonists survival as a continued future threat, the major danger to Earth in the novel simply disappears without explanation or resolution. There is a creepy incident in the novel ,that introduces a major character to activity, that, for lack of a better, non-spoiling word, is necrophilic in tone.
These things do go a long way to spoiling the novel, and destroy the promise set up by Ilium. Olympos fails the “I want to re-read the book now” test, because the promise at the first page is ultimately not fulfilled by its end.
I don’t regret reading the novel, because of some of the interesting ideas, motifs and references and characters, but it was a gigantic let down from the first book. It pains me to say that this is my least favorite Dan Simmons novel.