Friday, 13 January 2017

The Just City

   I decided to check out some of the books in the Canada Read's longlist.
   There are several science fiction novels on the list, so I decided to start reading a few of them.  I thought I would start with the most bizarre (although science fiction itself is a little bizarre for me).

   "The Just City" is about an experiment to set up Plato's "Republic".  In other words, to set up a city based on "justice".
   Plato died in 437 BC.  Socrates was his teacher. Although Plato is not in this novel, Socrates surely is.  In fact, he is the person that actually ruins the experiment and convinces people that it is not really a 'just city'- that people do not have free will and volition.
The novel is based on Greek mythology - even Apollo is here.  He decided to be born into a mortal life. People were brought to this city (on an island) from all over the world and from all time periods.  
  The mating procedure is strange.  People are matched for a day and expected to procreate.  Then have no sexual contact for another 6 months.  The city is more just because you don't have one lover or one baby of your own.  You care for everyone.  In fact, you never know which child belongs to you.  Excellence is the aim.
  The belief is that justice is more important than happiness or liberty or anything else.
 There are robots that Socrates discovers can think and respond.  There are many long philosophical discussions around Socrates and volition is one important topic.
Well-written but way 'out there'.

This is Jo Walton, the author. She was born in Wales in 1964.  She is a poet and an author.  She has been writing since she was 13, but her first novel was not published until 2000.
She has won many science fiction awards.  She now lives in Montreal.

No comments:

Post a Comment