2017 Sunburst Award for Adult Fiction Finalist
Necessity: the sequel to the acclaimed The Just City and The Philosopher Kings, Jo Walton's tales of gods, humans, and what they have to learn from one another.
More than sixty-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout human history, and committing it to building a society based on the principles of Plato's Republic. Among the City's children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form.
Sixty years ago, the Just City schismed into five cities, each devoted to a different version of the original vision.
Forty years ago, the five cities managed to bring their squabbles to a close. But in consequence of their struggle, their existence finally came to the attention of Zeus, who can't allow them to remain in deep antiquity, changing the course of human history. Convinced by Apollo to spare the Cities, Zeus instead moved everything on the island to the planet Plato, circling its own distant sun.
Now, more than a generation has passed. The Cities are flourishing on Plato, and even trading with multiple alien species. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there's suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato--a ship from Earth.
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Walton delivers an adequately satisfying conclusion to her Thessaly trilogy (The Just City, The Philosopher Kings). The Greek goddess Athene brought a collection of people from ancient Greece to our near future on a planet called Plato, where they attempted to make Plato's Republic a reality. Forty years after being relocated, they finally make contact with the rest of humankind. Rather than engage with the intriguing philosophical and ethical issues presented by this reconnection, the story focuses on freshly re-deified Apollo, who discovers that Athene cannot be found anywhere and sets out to track her down. Walton makes the fresh and delightful choice to pull point-of-view characters from a broader cross-section of society, including Jason, a low-caste fisherman of the Remnant City, and Crocus, the first of the Just City's robots to become self-aware, but the story bogs down in its supernatural elements. The mortal characters are given tragically short shrift, and the abandonment of questions raised by earlier installments will leave readers wishing this story had strived for greater excellence.