Thessaly: The Just City, The Philosopher Kings, Necessity
Readers of Thessaly from Jo Walton might find themselves again in “fan-punk,” ie, an unrecognized sub-genre so far, in an author’s reminiscences of what they have truly and enthusiastically appreciated. More obvious examples might be Ready Player One from Ernst Cline and Walton’s award-winning novel Among Others, about a young genre reader, which will remain a classic because it won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. Here, Walton has combined science fiction and fantasy into soup with bites of philosophy, adventure, wisdom, irony, and other things. The trilogy is Utopian in the sense that Athena has created a city lost in time based upon the tenets of Plato’s Republic.
Also to be found in the city are interesting people from the ages. The series has us following the thoughts and stories of the main characters, some of whom are gods. One hears the private thoughts of Socrates as well as Apollo and Athena. There is also a reincarnated Daphne as well as Zeus, Hermes, and some personages from the Renaissance. There is love and learning but also conflict and revenge. The trilogy finally goes cosmic, with the cities being moved to the planet Plato by Zeus. Extraterrestrials are encountered, robots are citizens of sorts, slaves are freed, and we are left to think about a challenging series and project that has gone a bit awry. It was fun to be a fan again, learn of these learned folk’s philosophy, and follow the challenges of creating a Just Society.