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The Plot to Save Socrates (Sierra Waters)

The Plot to Save Socrates (Sierra Waters) [Kindle Edition]

Paul Levinson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Paul Levinson's time-travel science fiction novel is a surprise and a delight: In the year 2042, Sierra Waters, a young graduate student in Classics, is shown a new dialog of Socrates, recently discovered, in which a time traveler tries to argue that Socrates might escape death by travel to the future! Thomas, the elderly scholar who has shown her the document, disappears, and Sierra immediately begins to track down the provenance of the manuscript with the help of her classical scholar boyfriend, Max.

The trail leads her to time machines in gentlemen's clubs in London and in New York, and into the past--and to a time traveler from the future, posing as Heron of Alexandria in 150 AD. Complications, mysteries, travels, and time loops proliferate as Sierra tries to discern who is planning to save the greatest philosopher in human history. Fascinating historical characters from Alcibiades to William Henry Appleton, the great nineteenth-century American publisher, to Hypatia, Plato, and Socrates himself appear. With surprises in every chapter, Paul Levinson has outdone himself in The Plot to Save Socrates.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 815 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: JoSara MeDia (11 Dec 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #486,240 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Paul Levinson, PhD, is Professor of Communication & Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City. His eight nonfiction books, including The Soft Edge (1997), Digital McLuhan (1999), Realspace (2003), Cellphone (2004), and New New Media (1999, 2nd edition 2012) have been the subject of major articles in the New York Times, Wired, the Financial Times, and have been translated into ten languages. His science fiction novels include The Silk Code (1999, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel, author's cut Kindle published 2012), Borrowed Tides (2001), The Consciousness Plague (2002, 2013), The Pixel Eye (2003), The Plot To Save Socrates (2006, 2012), and Unburning Alexandria (2013). His short stories have been nominated for Nebula, Hugo, Edgar, and Sturgeon Awards. Paul Levinson appears on MSNBC, Fox News, BBC Radio, and numerous national and international TV and radio programs. His 1972 LP, Twice Upon a Rhyme, was re-issued on re-mastered vinyl by Whiplash Records in the UK in 2010. Levinson reviews the best of television in his blog, and was listed in The Chronicle of Higher Education's "Top 10 Academic Twitterers" in 2009.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The first three chapters of The Plot to Save Socrates take place in the years 2042, 150 and 1889. After getting through the initial disorientation that this caused, I raced through the rest of Paul Levinson's page turner. It is an enjoyable read that I would recommend to science fiction fans and non-scifi fans alike.

The premise is a complex web of events started by someone out to save Socrates through time travel. The paradoxes of time travel (that changes in the past can change you in the future) are interweaved with the story of people both historical and fictional, some who believe they are nobly trying to save one of the greatest minds ever, some who believe they have no say in events and are just following along paths to destinies already set out before them, and others who are determined to change their fates by changing the past.

Although many ancients (Greek and otherwise) appear in the story, the fictional character (at least fictional in the beginning) of Sierra Waters (a paradoxical name in and of itself!) is the most intriguing. She becomes interwoven in the plot, but determined to make decisions about what paths she takes based on personal choices, not waves of the future or patterns of history.

I enjoyed the pace of the story, once I got used to the back and forth of the time and place settings. I also enjoyed the ancient characters brought to life, always a struggle and Paul does this well. Others may nitpick about some facts (how to people survive in different times? aren't people who left one time never to return missed by parents and others? why aren't there many more time travellers than there are in the book). But I enjoyed the story.

In addition, I believe Mr. Levinson leaves the story open for a sequel (or, because of time travel, would this be a prequel??), but I will not give the details of how as I do not want to spoil the story. I, for one, would certainly welcome a follow up.

Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Plot To Send Us Screwy! 15 Jun 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love time-travel tales, I really do.
And this plot to save Socrates seemed a fairly good yarn to follow-up on.

Sadly, I believe the excessive comings and goings of various characters in time-travel chairs, renders the end result as a nonsensical spaghetti junction that leaves the reader not only utterly confused about who is who, but why and what are they trying to do, and for what reasons?

In the end I was worn out by it all, and my mind was reeling from attempting to piece it together as I went along.

As I put the book down at its conclusion I sought my first, instant reaction, which is usually the most accurate.
I was damned relieved it was all over.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The dawn broke a little while ago" 25 Jan 2007
By Marc Ruby™ - Published on
I'm not particularly attracted to time travel novels. Or to Greek philosophy and history. So deciding to read The Plot to Save Socrates was something of fortunate whim (yes, I do have whims on occasion). But what I feared might be a bit tedious turned out to be a fascinating volume with a story line that works on many levels, from philosophy to romance.

The basic plot is just what the title says. A missing Socratic dialogue is discovered that relates Socrates' last conversation. A conversation in which he is offered the opportunity to escape his impending doom and flee into the future. Offered the opportunity to participate in this adventure by Professor Thomas O'Leary, doctoral candidate Sierra Waters embarks on a complex journey that will have her following the tracks on an ancient (or modern) inventor, taking one of Socrates' best friends as a lover, and, eventually, joining in the effort to bring a reluctant Socrates to safe harbor.

At heart, this is a 'puzzle' story. Riding time traveling chairs across millennia, Waters and others crisscross each other; making sure that events happen in the right sequence, staging more than one hair's breadth escape, and generally muddying the waters. Only gradually does the real sequence of events emerge. This is often precisely why I don't like time travel novels - the artificial nature of the plot - but Paul Levinson displays the writing skills needed to keep this artificiality from overwhelming the real story.

What is the 'real' story? For each reader it will be something slightly different, but for me it is the insights into the nature of Socrates himself. This is a man who spurned democracy, was willing to chose death to make a point, and who greatly distrusted the written word. Levinson shows us a man whose inquisitive nature can gently turn any discussion into a dialogic investigation. A natural teacher whose ideas have had inconceivable influence on the next 2500 years. And he is an honest, principled man who is impossible to dislike. It amazed me to find that several passages in the book found immediate application in other exchanges. That's quite something for an innocuous, slim, science fiction story.

Levinson's style is sparse, frequently surfacing feelings and ideals with a few sure strokes. Romance, suspense, and the theater of thought are the settings for a writer to display considerable breadth. You may find Levinson's character development quirky, but keep in mind that we meet many characters in out-of-order time slices, which are only blended together as the tale comes to its delightful, quixotic ending. This turned out to be surprisingly good reading and I heartily recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun lighthearted time travel romp 8 Feb 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
In 2042 Classics Professor Thomas O'Leary shows Manhattan's Old School doctorate candidate Sierra Waters a recently discovered fragment of a Socrates Dialogue. Sierra is stunned when the great philosopher discusses an opportunity offered by a visitor Andros to his prison to escape his impending state sponsored death by traveling in time. After discussing the Dialogue with her boyfriend Max, Sierra talks to her faculty advisor who says he is going to a Wilmington hospital for an operation on an aneurysm near his heart and that he trusts Sierra to do the right thing when it comes to Socrates.

Sierra and Max soon investigate the reality of time travel not just the theories and learn of a machine in London. There they begin a journey through time to several BCE eras, the nineteenth century and two decades into their future in an attempt to persuade Socrates to escape imminent death by hemlock. However the great philosopher has other plans for the leadership of Athens even while Sierra is attracted to the "enemy" and there is no guarantee that the two graduate students will return to their doctorate present.

THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES is a fun lighthearted time travel romp that in some ways will remind the audience of Bill and Ted though Sierra and Max are a lot more intelligent than the latter two. The story line is fast-paced as the twenty-first century travelers move back and forth in time with several intriguing surprises to include meeting real historical figures and a terrific final spin. Paul Levinson provides a strong science fiction thriller in which readers will have all the time in the world to join the quest to save Socrates.

Harriet Klausner
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More like 4 1/2 stars.... 24 Oct 2007
By Deborah Wiley - Published on
Format:Audio CD
What if Socrates didn't really die and was offered an escape from his infamous death by hemlock poisoning? Paul Levinson asks just such a question in this fascinating time travel....

Doctoral student Sierra Waters isn't sure what to make of the dialogue between Socrates and Andros on the newly discovered manuscript fragment. Why is Thomas O'Leary, a member of her dissertation committee, giving it to her now? Even more bizarre is his sudden disappearance, a disappearance that sets Sierra off on an incredible journey. Time travel suddenly seems real as Sierra attempts to unravel the mystery behind the fragment in this epic adventure.

History comes to life in this fun and thought provoking tale! Socrates has always seemed a rather dour and dull figure to me but Paul Levinson breathes new life into this time. I must admit that I'm very unfamiliar with the plethora of historical figures who make an appearance in this tale, but it added another layer of intrigue as I spent almost as much time researching them as I did listening to the audio book! The print version of this tale has a very helpful appendix with notes about the various characters who appear.

The twists and turns make this story interesting as we wait to see how this tale will ultimately unfold. I'm not sure if true fans of the time period of Socrates and Alcibiades will appreciate this story nearly as much as those of us with only the barest of knowledge as Paul Levinson definitely takes some poetic license in the unveiling of THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES.

Narrator Mark Shanahan does a fabulous job at providing different voices. This is particularly helpful as THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES shifts perspectives quite a bit. At one point, I was close to giving up on the story in total confusion when the various story pieces suddenly clicked together. Once that happened, I was hooked! THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES is the sort of tale you want to savor each detail as all begins to come together in one very devious plot!

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost wonderful 18 July 2007
By Paul J. Pagel - Published on
Several previous reviews have hit this right on the head. The book starts with great promise (interesting premise, nice mix of historical and philosophical detail, some nifty plot twists) but still ends up being somewhat unsatisfying. Initially, the pace of the book is decent, but the characters feel flat. The last couple chapters of the book seems rushed and forced as if the author lost interest and decided to tie everything up as quickly as possible. I'd still classify it as a worthwhile read, mainly due to the strength of the first half of the book.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a story 7 May 2006
By Jonathan A. Turner - Published on
Near the end of _The Plot to Save Socrates_, one of the protagonists says to the villain: "We want the same thing as you--we want Socrates to live. Why are we fighting?"

Damn good question! The villain doesn't answer it. I can't answer it either. It simply makes no sense. The book is not without redeeming features, but it doesn't really have a story, and that kills it.

It was bad enough when I wasn't sure why everyone was so het up about saving Socrates in the first place. When even the characters in the book have no clue what the book's main conflict is about, though, you've got an unfixable problem. It's not just that the villain is motiveless--there's literally no imaginable reason for the protagonists to oppose him, or vice versa, at all.

Even the manner of his opposition is unexciting and uninvolving. Every couple of chapters a couple of "highly-trained martial arts specialist" henchmen show up and attack the heroes. The heroes, none of whom is a highly-trained martial arts specialist, dispatch the henchmen and go about their business.

Nor are those heroes themselves terribly engaging. The characterization is just about non-existent. If I had to pick an adjective to describe Sierra Waters, the main protagonist, I'd pick "female." That's about the only impression I have of her. The other characters--with the exception of Alcibiades--are just as dimensionless.

And when they do finally save Socrates, it turns out that it was all useless. And the "villain" has known all along that it was useless!

What about those redeeming features I mentioned earlier?

First, the philosophy bits are excellent. I'd have liked to have seen a lot more philosophising, in fact, and had it worked more strongly into the main action of the book.

Second, the book does a great job with a time-travel structure. A lot of writers shrink from the strange loops and causality inversions and my-past-is-your-future scenes that time travel necessarily implies. Levinson not only doesn't shrink from them, he embraces them--and wraps them up tightly, so they all make a kind of sense. And he does it in a way that's appropriate to the subject, presenting his chapters in a non-linear but logical fashion that's both challenging and evocative.

Nonetheless: there's no story. The obstacles that the protagonists face are not credible and not urgent. You can't do that.
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