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book read - The Just City

Have just finished The Just City, the first of Jo Walton's trilogy about a colony of time travelers the goddess Athena collects on the island of Atlantis to create Plato's Republic. I suspect I'd have gotten more out of this novel if I had at least passing familiarity with Plato! Also, the first half felt more like the working out of a thought experiment (as indeed the city itself is) than a story. The characters felt fairly thin, more representatives of their various situations than people.

However, I got a lot more interested once Athena brings Socrates to the city, because he makes all sorts of friends in strange place and shakes everything up. There's even a key subplot about the potential personhood of AIs. By the end I was really enjoying it, and even more than that, I'm extremely pleased there are sequels, because as the first book ends, the premise finally gets to the point of really grappling with Plato's ideas vs how people actually function. We are clearly gearing up for CONSEQUENCES, and CONSEQUENCES are one of my favorite things.

I picked this book up partly for my Hugo reading project and partly because I found Walton so fascinating on her panel at WorldCon. Now that I've worked up to this book, I think I probably want to go read ALL THE OTHERS. Even the WWII alternate history ones, which is saying something.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
de_nugis
Sep. 19th, 2015 01:31 pm (UTC)
I have avoided these books, despite having mixed to fairly favorable experience with Walton, because I loathe The Republic beyond almost any other work.
snickfic
Sep. 19th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
Alas. Walton is clearly at work poking holes in its premise, but that still means actively engaging with it.
lokifan
Sep. 27th, 2015 12:20 am (UTC)
She's so interesting! The only book of hers I've read is "Tooth and Claw" which I fucking adored, but it's kind of a take-off of Victorian sentimental novels, especially Trollope, so it's another text with very specific reference points.
snickfic
Sep. 28th, 2015 11:10 pm (UTC)
Ooh, interesting! That one was on my list, but I had no idea what it was about. I'm not sure that I would enjoy it now, as that's not a period of literature I'm very familiar with, but then again I liked The Just City quite well despite not know Plato, so.
lokifan
Sep. 29th, 2015 03:42 am (UTC)
It's very funny on its own terms I think, and it's all about family dynamics and inheritance which I love. Plus it has this metaphor for women's perceived loss of virgnity/being ~ruined which I think is interesting and works even without being super-aware of the genre?

But it's also hard for me to tell; not only do I love Trollope, but he also trades in upper-middle class, high-church Anglican England, and I come from that culture anyway :D Which has not changed at all in some ways. So I likely don't have enough distance to say how understandable it all is from the outside!

She's on LJ btw, as papersky, did you know?
snickfic
Oct. 5th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC)
I did know she was on LJ! In fact my one prior experience with her was violently disagreeing with her ordering of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances. :D

Anyway, I will keep all this in mind. I definitely want to read more of her stuff (aside from the sequel to The Just City, already on my list).
lokifan
Oct. 5th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, you like Georgette Heyer? I love her! I haven't read that much of her stuff but I'm working through it :)
snickfic
Oct. 6th, 2015 03:36 pm (UTC)
I'm reading her very slowly. I started with Cotillion, which I LOVED, but honestly I think I might better have stopped there - nothing else I've read has come even close.

My point of contention with papersky was A Civil Contract, which I did not like at all. I thought the guy got everything he didn't realize he wanted, and the perfectly nice girl got a husband who was willing to put up with her, despite her looks and supposed lack of personality, for the sake of her fortune and childbearing abilities.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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