Welcome back to the Tor.com eBook Club! August’s pick is The Just City, the first book in Jo Walton’s Thessaly trilogy. Join in below, as Jo discusses how she built the titular city—and its inhabitants–around Plato’s philosophy.
The thing that makes Plato so interesting to me is that he makes me go from “Yes, yes, yes” to “You cannot be serious” so fast it gives me whiplash. He’s so great on some things, and so wrong on others, so crazy, and simultaneously so thoughtful, that I can get a lot of power out of these kinds of contradictions.
People have asked if The Just City is a utopia or a dystopia, and the answer is no, it isn’t. It’s a mix of odd things, much like the real world is, some of them are better and some of them worse than what we have in our society. By the third book, Necessity, where you have a third generation who have grown up with nothing but people trying to implement Plato in different ways, you have people who take it all for granted. And then it’s a lot more like a… no, still neither a utopia nor a dystopia. A place to live. A different place. And that’s a lot more interesting to me than either absolutely perfect or absolutely awful.