NESFA Members' Reviews

The Plot to Save Socrates

by Paul Levinson

Tor, 2006, ISBN 0-765-30570-4

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

What would you do if you had the chance to save Socrates? What would you do if he refused to be saved?

It's 2042, and Sierra Waters is a graduate student, working on her dissertation on Athens' the adoption of the Ionic phonetic alphabet around 400 B.C., when Thomas O'Leary, a member of her doctoral committee, brings her a fragment of a previously-unknown Socratic dialog. This dialog suggests that Socrates received a visitor from the future, who offered to save him by means of time travel and the substitution of a mindless clone. Socrates refuses, as he refused other efforts to persuade him to save himself. A new Socratic dialog is a major event if it's real—but most likely it's a fake. Nevertheless, Sierra's fascinated, and she calls O'Leary—or tries to. He's vanished.

Recruiting her lover Max Marcus, an assistant professor at Fordham, she starts trying to track down both Thomas O'Leary and the origins of the dialog. The search takes them to the private clubs of New York and London, and into the curious history of a few of those clubs, and eventually the time-travel secret hidden within them. Sierra gets caught up in an ever-more-complicated and dangerous hunt through time, for Thomas, the mysterious Andros, and the origins of the dialog.


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