Ben Smithgall

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Bit pusher at Spotify. Previously Interactive News at the New York Times, U.S. Digital Service, and Code for America.





Olympos (Ilium, #2)

By Dan Simmons

Finished reading on May 15, 2018

Having read this right on the heels of Ilium, Olympos takes all of the worst parts of the Ilium, loses much of the good parts, and adds a truly bizarre number of poorly written sex scenes, some lazy writing and sloppy editing, and a sprinkle of anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia. The trotting out of other literary works is once again on display here as Simmons really wants to demonstrate to the reader how well he knows not just Homer, but also Shakespeare, Proust, and Virgil. The great idea revealed here, that literary and artistic genius command such power that they create new universes through the quantum power of their novel thoughts, is so overwrought that it feels almost insulting. Even the plot, usually a strong point in Simmons’s books, wobbles quite a bit towards the end; one of the Odysseus characters ends up dealing with one of the most played-up villains by professing his love and promising a lifetime of eternal sex. For a seven-hundred page book, a tremendous number of open questions are left largely unresolved. Better fiction and better books by Simmons are both available; it is frustrating to see the promise of Ilium peter out here.