NESFA Members' Reviews


by Dan Simmons

Eos, 2003, ISBN 0-380-97893-8

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

There are three storylines here that eventually converge. There's Thomas Hockenberry, former 21st-century Iliad scholar, now revived to help study and report on the Trojan War as it is currently being enacted on Mars under the direction and inteference of the Greek deities, some thousands of years in the future. There's Mahnmut of Europa and Orphu of Io, moravecs (machine intelligences, originally created by humans during the Lost Age) who have come to Mars to investigate and do something very decisive about the dangerous amount of quantum phase-shifting being in dulged in by the post-humans of Mars. And finally, there are the "old-style humans" (they aren't, really, but they don't know it) of Earth, a few thousand in number, who live an Eloi-like existence for exactly one hundred years each. If they are killed or injured before that, they are faxed to the firmary, which repairs--until their final trip to the firmary, on their one hundredth birthday, or Final Twenty, when, according to belief accepted as known fact since the end of the Lost Age, they are faxed to the e-ring or p-ring to join the post-humans.

One of the old-style humans, Harman, approaching his Final Twenty, starts asking uncomfortable questions, and is eccentric enough to teach himself to read. Eventually, he meets up with Savi, the Wandering Jew--her situation is quite different from the old-style humans who aren't--and she introduces him to Odysseus. Thomas Hockenberry finds himself pulled into an intrigue between the gods which is going to lead him straight into disassembly, and becomes strongly motivated to do something else instead--at the very least, kill one of those sadistic rat-bastards before he gets killed himself, and at the best, do something to really change the end of the Trojan War.

And Mahnmut and Orphu, after the destruction of most of their expedition, wind up crashing on Mars and making the acquaintance of the Little Green Men, who have their own issues with the Greek gods/post-humans.

It's a very involving story, with compelling characters in every branch of it, and even though this is only the first half, it does come to a satisfying interim conclusion.


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