Reading: Jo Walton — The Philosopher Kings

Jo Walton. She’s on my very short list of authors I’ll unquestioningly read whenever they publish. Jo Walton of Among Others, my book of the year in 2012 (fuck! 2012!), which in the intervening years my memory has transformed into something of a witchy The Wasp Factory. Yeah, I know, there’s no comparison, it’s just a feeling. I could dredge up a comparitive list of why that feeling is valid, but it’s the feeling itself that matters, makes me return to an author.

My Real Children won the Tiptree Award, but I didn’t like it so much. Then she comes out with The Just City, smart and clever as all shit and the first of a trilogy. The Philosopher Kings is the second.

She probably got called smartarse at school when she was all, “Oh! The Thatcher government attacks on Welsh miners can be seen as a failure of Socratic Virtue” and half the class would be all, “WTF?” and the other half all “Think yar fukkin’ smart cunt, d’ya?” the teacher would be, “Jo, really?” and she’d just be, “What? What’d I say?” and hide in the library at lunchtime to avoid a beating. And read Plato.

And she read so much she was all, “Ha ha! Imagine if Plato’s Republic was real and Socrates was there, and it was like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure but with smart people who served Plato his arse. (And boned each other. But only while pursuing Excellence. I’m gonna call one of them Arete. Pursuing Excellence. Hurhur.) And robots! And Athene and Apollo were there in disguise. And volcanoes! And they’ll travel through time and steal art and shit. And wrestling naked under the hot sun, oiling each other down afterOMGyissss!” And 35 years later she was all, “Socratic Virtue this, fuckers!” and threw down the Just City trilogy.

And turned Socrates into a blowfly.

Gonna be high on my list of book of the year next October.

Jo Walton — The Philosopher Kings
Jo Walton — The Philosopher Kings