Paul Levinson,
The Plot to Save Socrates
(Tor, 2006)

If Socrates hadn't died, how would the world be different? That is the question posed by Paul Levinson in The Plot to Save Socrates. His answer: it wouldn't, if no one knew he'd been saved.

Sierra Waters is working on a doctoral thesis when her adviser Thomas O'Leary gives her a copy of a newly discovered Socratic dialogue. The dialogue takes place on the eve of Socrates' death by hemlock, and it seems to involve a time traveler trying to persuade the philosopher to come away with him to the future. The funny thing is, it appears to be genuine.

O'Leary's subsequent disappearance catapults Sierra into an adventure she would not have believed possible. Tracking the document to its source, she finds a time travel device and begins an odyssey through time that will end with someone having a little chat with Socrates. But is it she? O'Leary? Or someone from even farther in the future?

In Sierra Waters, we are given a capable, likeable heroine, someone easy to root for. None of Levinson's characters are unlikeable, not even the bad guy -- and is he really a bad guy?

The Plot to Save Socrates is an extremely engaging, entertaining story. Time travel narratives often get murky and confusing as time loops around time and paradox piles on top of paradox, but Levinson manages to avoid the stickiness of time travel for the most part, giving us a story that is easy to follow.

review by
Laurie Thayer

15 September 2007

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