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Kallisti: The Just City

January 21, 2016

This week’s book was set in Kallisti or ‘The Just City’ written by Jo Walton.

While the book is a mixture of science fiction and fantasy set in the time of Atlantis, what attracted me to reading it was the cover, not the front but the back, where the blurb is written as a list of ‘Facts for Travellers’ such as:

Languages: Classical Greek, Latin

Climate: Mediterranean

Religion: Hellenistic Pagan (with onsite gods)

Having read through the list and been told at the end that there is no way to leave this fictional city I was drawn into a world where characters travel through time to experience life in Plato’s republic as set up by the goddess Athene.

Another ‘onsite god’ is Apollo who incarnates as the mortal Pytheas in order to learn about volition and equal significance in addition to increasing his excellence.

Increasing one’s excellence is a central theme of the novel which is summed up in Apollo’s speech at the end of the story. I hope that the excerpts below give you a flavour of the whole and inspire you as a writer to produce the best work you can:

‘On my temple in Delphi there are two words written: Know Thyself. It’s good advice. Know yourself… Make art that can last and that says something nobody else can say… You cannot know which of your actions is the lever that will move worlds.’ (The Just City by Jo Walton: Corsair: 2015)

More information about the author’s novels, non-fiction, plays, poetry, and short stories can be found at

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