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The Plot to Save Socrates Hardcover – February 7, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In this light, engaging time-travel yarn, Levinson (The Silk Code) ponders the problem of saving someone who refuses to be saved, in this case Socrates, the Athenian philosopher condemned to death in a shameful moment for democracy. Inspired by a newly discovered dialogue of Socrates in which he's offered escape by time travel, Sierra Waters, classics grad student in 2042, joins her professor, Thomas O'Leary, in a quest to return to the past. Along the way, Sierra gains a lover, the charismatic Athenian leader, Alcibiades, as well as an enigmatic ally, the fabled inventor Heron of Alexandria. Plans are made, betrayed and relaid, all aiming to bring Socrates away before his execution. But the wily thinker, out to embarrass Athens, will have none of it. The plot threatens to fracture as the characters constantly move backward and forward in time, but by the surprise end, Levinson succeeds in tying the main narrative together in a way that neatly satisfies the circularity inherent in time travel, whose paradoxes he links to Greek philosophy. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Classics grad student Sierra Waters is understandably skeptical when her advisor hands her an unknown Socratic dialogue between the imprisoned teacher and Andros, a time traveler. Andros offers Socrates an escape from the hemlock--a clone will be left in his place, and Socrates will live in the future. As she investigates the document's provenance, Sierra comes across a number of bizarre coincidences and, finally, the genuine possibility of time travel. She embarks on an adventure across past, present, and future, trying to puzzle out Andros' identity and save Socrates. In transit, she picks up Alcibiades of the honeyed thighs and enigmatic Heron of Alexandria. Eventually, she finds Socrates. The plot twists across itself, filling the book with paradoxes and potential paradoxes in total disregard for linear time, betrayal, and plotting. In the end, Socrates' fate and Andros' motivations and identity unexpectedly conclude a quick-to-read, entertaining treatment of the problems inherent in time travel with style and flair. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
You do have to pay attention, as the cast of characters are jumping places and eras like a game of musical chairs -- Time Travel chairs, which are their means of spanning millenniums. Fortunately, dates and locations are clearly labeled with each chapter and change, so it's easy enough for readers -- but not always for the travelers. Levinson writes, "She had to find out the date. The time-traveller's eternal question...."
Another favorite line: "He heard the hounds of paradox baying in some corner of his brain...." That might apply to me, but selective re-reads help, or perhaps there's a new App -- Paradox & Time Loop Check. I did find myself questioning motivation and intent a couple of times, but these are minor distractions in the scope of a satisfying story.
To quote Sierra, a main character: "Nothing is certain where time travel is concerned." I agree. It's fiction, very well written, so enjoy the ride.
If you enjoy time travel stories, Classics, or a complex story, this is for you.
There's an old saying, "If you love Greek history and you're fascinated by time travel, you'll love Paul Levinson's The Plot To Save Socrates. If you're reading this in 2009, you'll likely disagree that it's an old saying, but if you time travel to 2061, you'll find that it's true.
Paul Levinson's delightful sci-fi book opens in New York in 2042. Sierra Waters, a student of the classics who is working on her dissertation, comes across a newly discovered dialog of Socrates. In it, an unidentified time traveler tries to convince Socrates to escape his death sentence by letting a cloned double drink hemlock while Socrates travels to the future.
As the characters time travel to different periods in the past and the future, the reader cannot help but be absorbed in not only the engaging plot, but also by the myriad questions that time travel raises. I think we all can relate to even the smallest incidents in our own lives that have profoundly changed the course of our personal history. In that sense, The Plot To Save Socrates really challenges our minds as we're led to contemplate how even the smallest adjustments in history could literally change its course.
Though written in a lighthearted style, the depth of research and thought that Paul Levinson put into the writing is clear and the result is truly a thought-provoking, breathtaking, and highly entertaining novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Other folks have written good overviews, however, I would strongly recommend that you read the Appendix prior to...Read more