cover image The Plot to Save Socrates

The Plot to Save Socrates

Paul Levinson, . . Tor, $25.95 (271pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0570-1

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.)