250 reviews of time travel TV, movies, books right here

Monday, February 26, 2007

24 Season 6: hr 11: Charles Logan and Wayne Palmer

Tonight was the night for presidents on 24.

Charles Logan, glimpsed just briefly last week, emerged as a major player. Living under house arrest, the former, Nixonian president looked better than he - or Nixon - ever did, with a beard and a calm we never saw before. That was likely because Logan didn't have that last year. He apparently has found religion - quoting from the Bible as he looks at himself in the mirror - and we can only hope that he sees God on his side for the good.

Meanwhile, Wayne Palmer - whose brother, former President David Palmer, was killed at the beginning of last year in a plan to which then President Logan acquiesced - is in grave danger himself back in Washington. A bomb brought to the podium by Tom Lennox's assistant, and despite Lennox's attempt to stop it, blows up with President Wayne Palmer and former terrorist Assad in the room. Assad notices and calls out about the bomb at the last minute - but did he and Palmer get out of harm's way in time? Coming attractions show Palmer alive but in bad condition, with Assad anyone's guess.

And speaking of guessing - who exactly is behind all of this? The Russian Grdenko is running the Arab Fayed, that part is clear. But who exactly are the super patriots who are trying to kill Wayne Palmer? Are they in the same group as Jack's father Phillip and Charles Logan?

One thing is clear - there are a lot of bad guys around. And if none of them are as yet revealed as working inside CTU, we should at least be concerned that Chloe is as distracted as Morris, leaving Bill Buchanan more short-handed than ever...

Useful links:

2 and 1/2 min podcast of this review: Levinson news clips

PaulLevinson.net digest #2: Gore good news, etc

After the Oscars: A Good Night for Absolute Rulers and Elected Presidents

Surprise v. Suspense in Hitchcock and Rome

Dummy in the HOV lane

Hail the Mighty Lowly Bacterium!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lost: Lost

I hate to speak ill of the lost, but tonight's episode of Lost was one of the worst episodes of anything I've seen on television for a long time. It was worse than the most boring episodes that cropped up in Alias's long, slow decline. Tonight's episode of Lost was meaningless.

We were treated to another useless flashback - this one featuring Jack, who gets his tattoo. Other than Juliet getting "marked" at the end of the show, Jack's tattooing tonight had no connection to anything.

We confirmed that the Others live in some sort of quasi-suburban community, a boatride from their workplace. We already pretty much knew this.

Sawyer and Kate are tense because they slept together, at Kate's initiative, when Sawyer was, as he put it, "a dead man". Ok.

And now what?

I suppose I'll keep watching the show, but then again I may not. I've pretty much had it. I suppose there's still a flicker of a chance that the producers will blow some spark into a flame, but why are they taking so long to do it?

I almost feel as if I'm lost on an island somewhere, sentenced to keep watching a meaningless show, until I'm rescued--

Wait - I can rescue myself, and stop watching.

I'm afraid the show is lost. I'll guess I'll keep watching, but I don't enjoy writing scathing reviews, so I can't promise any more of these.

Useful links:

3-minute podcast of this review: Levinson news clips

20-minute podcast: Lost: Anatomy of a Loss

essay: Lost: Keys to What's Really Going On

DVD: Lost - The Complete First Season

PaulLevinson.net digest

I'll be back here tonight with my review of Lost, but I wanted to start posting a weekly digest of highlights of what I'm writing about over on my new PaulLevinson.net blog ... (these will always be in addition to what I write here - I'm not leaving :)

Feel free to come over and comment, any time you like. You can comment at the bottom of each entry, or you can click on a link near the bottom of each entry that brings you to my Message Board, where some of these topics are already under discussion...

Last Calls for Space... as in, outer space, and our need to get there...

The Ultimate Nielsen Viewer ... just to show that I sometimes am critical of television...

Gore and Obama ... I accepted a MySpace Friend request for them (i.e., a group exploring and perhaps promoting this ticket), and I'm thinking about more ...

See you back here tonight, maybe over there on PaulLevinson.net, and everywhere... (cue Paul McCartney...)

Monday, February 19, 2007

24 Season 6: hr 10: The Civil Servant & Darth Vader

"A civil servant" - that's what Jack's father Phillip contemptuously called Jack tonight, as he stood over his son with a gun, about to kill him.

And then he disappeared. Was this part of Phillip's plan all along, or did Jack somehow manage to elicit a bit of humanity in his Darth Vader of a father, as Jack talked about how he never meant to turn his back on the family, how he just had needed to go his own way...

Hard to tell, at present. But what is clear is Kiefer Sutherland put in one of his best performances yet on the entire series. This family angle is bringing out the best in him as an actor - or, at any rate, better than we got from him with Kim, his attractive but irritating daughter.

I also like Josh's mother better than Audrey, but that's not saying all that much. Still, Marilyn Bauer has done a good job as Jack's sister-in-law. (And, if we can believe the exchanges between Jack and her tonight, Josh is not Jack's son.)

The action back East in the White House was also good tonight, if predictable. I never believed that Tom Lennox would go along with the assassination of the President, however much he disagreed with him. But the scenes were taut with tension, anyway. And the second President Palmer seems in more danger than ever.

And speaking of Presidents - we have Charles Logan, bearded and baiting Jack for something ... which we'll learn more about in Hour 11, next week, as one of the worst days in the life of Jack Bauer, Civil Servant, continues...

Useful links:

listen to 2 and 1/2 min podcast of this review, at Levinson news clips

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rome Returns: Episode 6: The Ascension of Cicero

Ah, Cicero. The real man is one of my favorite thinkers and writers. A quote from his De Natura Deorem serves as the frontispiece of my 1979 doctoral dissertation on the evolution of media. The real man was a shrewd genius, silver-tongued orator, writer of such precision that words for him came as easily and effectively as scribbles on a page for most other people. Based on the considerable amount of his work that survived, I would rate him right up there with Plato, Milton, Shakespeare, and Jefferson. The real Cicero had that mixture of poetry, philosophy, political acumen.

The Cicero on HBO's Rome, up until the present evening, offered only a thin veneer of the above. Brilliantly played by David Bamber, the Cicero of HBO was often slippery, deceitful, and conniving. He was politically shrewd all right, but often lacked a redeeming depth. For all we know, this is true to history. It's always dangerous to make assumptions about the lives of real historical figures, even when we have so much of their own writing at hand.

But whatever the real Cicero was like - or what I envision him to be - he and the Cicero on Rome finally came together tonight, as Cicero died at the hands of Pullo, as per Antony and Octavian's orders. It was the noblest scene in the series. I was almost as outraged as Cicero's death as I was about Caesar's - maybe, in some ways, more so. Should a human being ever be put to death solely because of his ideas and political positions? Have we really made all that much progress since then?

Bravo to David Bamber for a performance that outdid itself in its final appearance tonight. Ray Stevenson deserves credit for playing Pullo just right - killing Cicero is no different for Pullo than pulling peaches off a tree - but I'm still too angry at the character to say anything good about what he did in that scene...

In contrast to that noble scene, we saw the deaths of Cassius and Brutus tonight, too. Nothing too noble about that - they got what they deserved, in history and in this series. Kudos, again, to Tobias Menzies as Brutus. Also to Guy Henry as Cassius.

Antony, Octavian, Atia, Octavia, and Agrippa were in fine form tonight, too. Next week beckons. The players diminish but increase in stature. Except for Cicero, RIP.

4-minute podcast of this review

Rome - The Complete First Season

Rome: Music From the HBO Series

I, Claudius 1977 BBC-HBO series

Digg   del.icio.us

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gore and Obama

I received a Friend request the other day over on MySpace from "Gore and Obama" - a group in Washington, DC promoting the possibility of this Democratic ticket in the upcoming election.

I'm not yet sure whom I'll be voting for, but I pretty quicky said yes to the Friend request.

Here's why-

There are some things I don't like about Gore - mostly his wife's campaign (which he endorsed) against what she saw as music dangerous to "children" in the 1980s, and Al Gore's opposition to our space program - but he did win the popular vote in 2000, was the victim of the Supreme Court's intervention preventing a recount in Florida, and, most recently, had the cojones to make a movie - An Inconvenient Truth - about what he believes in (the dangers of global warming).

Lesser men and women would have crawled off under a rock somewhere after the 2000 cauldron. I give Gore credit for pushing the envelope and putting himself out there, eight years later. He showed real moxie making that movie. Also, right or wrong about the specific issue of global warming, I think it's crucial that we start thinking about our planet as a whole.

And what about Obama? I think we need fresh faces and voices. I'm certainly ready to listen to what he has to say. (Plus, he also has the cred of being smeared by Fox News in its wrong reporting of where and how Obama was schooled.)

So ... I'm not yet ready to vote for this ticket ... But I'm more than willing to have it as a MySpace friend...

See also my Gore Nomination for Nobel Prize Poetic Justice

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lost: Desmond Deja Vu

The resumed third season of Lost continued tonight, with a more-or-less standalone episode devoted to Desmond - the man who was minding the hatch's countdown computer until Locke arrived (John Locke relieved Desmond David Hume - a nice philosopher's touch); who had some inexplicable meetings with Lost denizens (such as Jack) prior to arriving on the island; and who apparently can see the future.

As a time-travel tale, tonight's episode was pretty good. Charlie becomes aware of Desmond's abilities, especially after Desmond saves Claire from drowning (and also noticing that lightning was going to strike Claire's tent, earlier this year). Since the story is told from Desmond's point of view, we learn only at the end of the show that Desmond was actually saving Charlie - first from being struck by the lightning, then from drowning in an attempt to save Claire. Charlie, of course, has no knowledge of this, because Desmond changed history by stopping the causes of Charlie's death. So our Charlie has no idea that he died, then did not die, due to Desmond's intervention

It was also grand to see Fionnula Flanagan back on television, with Desmond in London - I loved her performance in Showtime's Brotherhood this Fall.

But I'm still waiting for a little more action in moving the fundamental mysteries of Lost forward to resolution. At this point we still know barely more than we knew at the beginning of the second season, in the Fall of 2005.

But I'm patient when it comes to the possibilities of great television - as I said last week - and I'm a sucker for time travel stories, to boot. So I'll give tonight's episode a thumbs up, and hope the coming attractions come through with their promise to resolve three big mysteries next week.

Useful links:

listen to 2 and 1/2 min podcast of this review: Levinson news clips

podcast: Time Travel in Fiction and Fact

my latest novel (time travel): The Plot to Save Socrates

see also my other reviews of Lost, and my review of the movie Deja Vu, in the archives of this blog

Monday, February 12, 2007

24 Season 6: hrs 8-9: Phillip, Milo, and Morris

Double-dose of tonight's 2-hour 24 picked up where Jack's father Phillip left off last week, and made him twice as bad. Killing Jack's brother Graem was one thing - Graem after all was part of the team that ordered the killings of David Palmer, Michelle, and Tony. But Phillip Bauer is threatening to kill his grandson ... Jack's nephew (unless it turns out that Josh Bauer is really Jack's son, which is just a wild supposition at this point, but he does look a lot like Kim).... And leading Jack to his death in a booby-trapped house...

Jack of course avoids being blown up. And I also enjoyed the heroics of Milo Pressman, played by Eric Balfour. It's always good to see a guy who works behind a computer take charge out in the field. Milo was great driving a van and saving Jack's sister in law.

The same cannot be said for Chloe's former husband Morris O'Brien. This wasn't his finest evening - he broke under torture and gave Fayed what he needed to activate the remaining suitcase nukes. Not only not commendable, but not entirely believable. It's a little hard to swallow Morris giving terrorists the keys to nukes, even under torture, especially after one already went off near LA.

But, oddly, the depth of the evil of Jack's father is not that hard to believe. Jack must have come from some sort of incredible family. Fortunately for us, the single-minded ruthlessness that Jack inherited is used by him for the good.

And the USA will need every ounce of it in the weeks ahead, as forces of darkness converge not only on Los Angeles, but on President Wayne Palmer.

Helpful links:

listen to 3-min podcast of this review at Levinson news clips

Digg   del.icio.us

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rome Returns: Episode 5: Octavian+Antony, Necessity v. Love

What a perfect ending of a perfect episode of HBO's Rome tonight: Antony and Octavian hugging, Vorenus' older daughter (Vorena the elder) smiling over the dinner table at her father, and all not of love but necessity.

Behind the political scenes, the slippery Cicero is bested by the wily, fearless Octavian, and Cicero writes to Brutus to bring him back to Rome. As I've mentioned before, I like to think that the genius who wrote De Natura Deorum was a better man, morally, than the Cicero of HBO's Rome, but who now can really know much of what the real Cicero really was? We can at least be content with David Bamber's superb performance, and with the fact that, even in HBO's Rome, the deceitful Cicero was fighting for a democracy of sorts.

For Octavian and his celestial ambitions are clearly in the ascendant. He - or more likely, his mother Atia, played by the beautiful Polly Walker - may have realized that an alliance with Antony and his army was the only chance they had against Brutus and his superior, foreign numbers, but we and history both know that this alliance cannot last.

We can't be as certain about anything in the fictional downstairs of Rome, where anything is possible. We can only hope, if we like the occasional, partial happy ending, that Vorenus and his children fare better than Antony and Octavian.

But we will win, in any case, as viewers of the splendid acting of everyone on the show, but most especially again, of James Purefoy as the now bearded Antony, and Simon Woods as the just slightly older Octavian.

Next week's battle, with the two allied versus Brutus and Cassius, promises to be a battle royale.

Useful links:

3-minute podcast of this review

Rome - The Complete First Season

Rome: Music From the HBO Series

I, Claudius 1977 BBC-HBO series

Digg   del.icio.us

Friday, February 9, 2007

Hank and Jack Bauer

I just heard on the car radio that Hank Bauer died - the great hard-hitting Yankee right-fielder from the 1950s. It's a measure of how thoroughly 24's Jack Bauer has permeated our culture - or, at least, my mind - that I first thought the announcement was about another member of Jack's family, another brother, or a grandfather. Just last week, Jack's father killed Jack's brother.

But Hank Bauer was no man of fiction. He played on one of the classic of classic Yankee baseball teams, along with Mantle, Maris, Berra, and the rest. I saw Bauer many times out at Yankee stadium when I was kid. I was probably closer to him than any other Yankee, because I always seemed to wind up in the right-field bleaches.

There's something about baseball. I was talking on KNX Radio this past Sunday to Todd Leitz about the Superbowl commercials - my regular weekly interviews - and he asked me who I was hoping would win the game. The answer was, it didn't matter to me. It's football, not baseball, doesn't matter...

And there was something about Hank Bauer. He mattered. Professional, stoic, you could almost always depend upon him to come through. Casey relied upon him, just as the fans did.

Is is it stretching things to say there's some sort of similarity between Hank and Jack Bauer? Between the real make-believe of baseball and the make-believe real of 24?

Maybe ... but I rely upon them both, in my imagination.

Helpful links:

Championship Baseball Hank Bauer's 1968 book

Digg   del.icio.us

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Anna Nicole, Phil Ochs and A. E. Housman

It's always sad when an athlete or movie star or rock star or any kind of celebrity dies in his or her prime. Potentials cut short. Promises unfufilled.

Phil Ochs, a folksinger and singwriter as great as Dylan, in my view, offered the disquieting thought that we the public might derive some satisfaction from the fall of a glamorous, powerful public figure. In his 1960s masterpiece, "The Crucifixion," Ochs said we build people up to stardom, in part for the weird pleasure of seeing them fall. He was talking most about John F. Kennedy, but he also had Marilyn on his mind.

Anna Nicole Smith was no Marilyn Monroe, any more than Madonna or any modern aspirants to her throne. But Anna captured our interest - her reality show and her life became increasingly difficult to distinguish.

And all-news stations are running nonstop with her death tonight, as Ochs might have predicted.

But there's another wordsmith whose observations may have some pertinence to today's events. The poet A. E. Housman, writing early last century, "To An Athlete Dying Young":

"Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears"

Helpful links:

The Collected Poems of A. E. Housman

There but for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs by Michael Schumacher

Digg   del.icio.us

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Lost ... Recovering

Just watched the resumed Season 3 of Lost on ABC-TV, and, I gotta say it was very good...

The background, as I see it: Lost was superb, out-of-this-world great the first season. For an analysis of why this was so, see my Lost: Keys to What's Really Going On. But the second season was awful. And the first half of the third season, though it had some good segments, was three times as long as it needed to be. Meaning: its worthwhile stories could have been told in just a couple of episodes. That's not a good thing in a television series.

Some people I know told me they weren't going to continue watching any more of the show. But the brilliance of the first season, and the worthwhile threads this Fall, tipped the balance - not by a large margin - but it tipped the balance in favor of my watching Lost tonight.

And I'm glad I did. Juliet's back story was one of the best in the series. And it did not have any inexplicable coincidences, like Locke or Hurley showing up, which at this point I take as a plus. Kate was perfect in her love for both Jack and Sawyer. Ben and the presumably Dharmic Others were suitably creepy. And Rousseau's daughter was worked in very well.

So I'm mostly back on track with giving Lost another chance. I'm very forgiving when it comes to potentially great television. I'll be sure to keep you posted on how it goes...

Helpful links:

listen to 3-min podcast of this review: Lost ... recovering

Lost - The Complete First Season

Lost - The Complete Second Season

my novels and nonfiction

Blurbs, details, reviews, links to free samples, videos, etc here about my novels and scholarly books:

thanks to Joel Iskowitz for illustrating the nine above covers


three short books

brief video about The Plot to Save Socrates and some of my other books

Featured Books

Chronica - just published, sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates and Unburning Alexandria

In this sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates and Unburning Alexandria, Sierra arrives in 2062, and finds the world has somewhat changed. Joe Biden was President from 2009-2017, and train travel is much more prominent. Was this due to the scrolls that she rescued from the ancient Library of Alexandria? Heron's Chronica, which describes how to build a time travel device and was one of the texts Sierra saved from burning, has not yet been published, and Sierra soon realizes that Heron is bent on doing everything in his lethal power to prevent that from happening. Her attempt to safeguard the Chronica, which she left in William Henry Appleton's keeping, takes her to the end of the 1890s, where she crosses paths with John Jacob Astor IV, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, J. P. Morgan, film pioneers William Dickson and Edwin Porter, and other denizens of The Gilded Age. With the Chronica at large, the keys to time travel are up for grabs, and with it the history and future of the world.

Chronica is an "engaging time travel story" - John DeNardo, Captivating Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Reads for December, Kirkus

                                                           ~~~ +++ ~~~

Unburning Alexandria - the long-awaited sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates

My sixth novel, sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates, continues the story of Sierra Waters ...
Mid-twenty-first century time traveler Sierra Waters, fresh from her mission to save Socrates from the hemlock, is determined to alter history yet again, by saving the ancient Library of Alexandria - where as many as 750,000 one-of-a-kind texts were lost, an event described by many as “one of the greatest intellectual catastrophes in history.”

Along the way she will encounter old friends such as William Henry Appleton the great 19th century American publisher and enemies like the enigmatic time travelling inventor Heron of Alexandria. And her quest will involve such other real historic personages as Hypatia, Cleopatra’s sister Arsinoe, Ptolemy the astronomer, and St. Augustine - again placing her friends, her loved-ones, and herself in deadly jeopardy.

In this sequel to THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES, award winning author Paul Levinson offers another time-traveling adventure spanning millennia, full of surprising twists and turns, all the while attempting the seemingly impossible: UNBURNING ALEXANDRIA.

I read from Unburning Alexandria at the late great Robin's Books in Philadelphia

Here's a free chapter from Unburning Alexandria, on SF Signal.


"Levinson's stories are intricately plotted and avoid the tricky Gordian knots of paradoxes with skill and fun." - John DeNardo, Kirkus

"You get used to reading verbal bombshells when you read Paul Levinson’s science fiction works.... characters say things like, 'I was here, in Carthage, three months from now'.” - Jim Curtis, The Morton Report

"little quirkinesses ... and a lot of clever ideas" - GF Willmetts, SFCrowsnest

"Not since Ilium had a novel kept me reading into the wee hours of dusk (I finished this sucker at 3:30 am, unable to resist immediately tweeting my triumph from the mountain tops). Just before tossing all aces like a godforsaken magician, Levinson shuffled his paradoxes like a deck of cards, and I have to admit, stoked the flames of my imagination. It was a great ride." - Shane Lindemoen 

"one of those extremely rare sequels that end up better than its predecessor ... worthy of the title, blockbuster, if this were a movie ... by far the best time travel story I've ever read" - Scott Sandridge, SpecMusicMuse

                                                               ~~~ +++ ~~~

The Plot to Save Socrates

on 10 Perfect Summer Reads Author by NYU Alumni list,  along with novels by Joseph Heller, Suzanne Collins, Candace Bushnell,  and Danielle Steel

My fifth novel is a blend of historical mystery and science fiction...a tale of time travel and ancient intrigue...

Sierra Waters, a graduate student in the year 2042, is given a copy of a previously unknown Socratic dialogue in which a time traveler gives the philosopher a tempting plan to escape the hemlock...

Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

What they're saying about the novel...

"...challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"...a fun book to read" - Dallas Morning News

"resonates with the current political climate . . . . heroine Sierra Waters is sexy as hell . . . . there's a bite to Levinson's wit" - Brian Charles Clark, Curled Up With A Good Book at curledup.com

"a journey through time that'll make you think as it thrills ... so accessible, even those generally put off by sci-fi should enjoy the trip." - Rod Lott, bookgasm.com

"Levinson spins a fascinating tale ... An intriguing premise with believable characters and attention to period detail make this an outstanding choice... Highly recommended." - Library Journal, *starred review

"Light, engaging time-travel yarn . . . neatly satisfies the circularity inherent in time travel, whose paradoxes Levinson links to Greek philosophy." - Publishers Weekly

"A thinking person's time travel story... I felt like I was there." - SF Signal

"This is a dazzling performance. . . .History as science fiction; science fiction as history." - Barry N. Malzberg

"... quick-to-read, entertaining treatment of the problems inherent in time travel with style and flair" - Booklist

"There's a delightfully old-fashioned feel to The Plot to Save Socrates. . . . Levinson's cool, spare style reminded me of the writing of Isaac Asimov. . ." - Colin Harvey, Strange Horizons

"Paul Levinson's new novel is both very different from anything he has done before and very satisfying. . . . This, I think, is the first of Levinson's novels to deserve to be called a tour de force. Watch for it on award ballots." - Tom Easton, Analog: Science Fiction and Fact

"it's exciting to see a book as daring with both its ideas and its approach to narrative structure as this one hit the shelves . . . It's an absolute treat to sit back and be wrapped up in a story that gives a retro SF premise like time travel such a brilliant new kick, and it's doubly delightful to find the story as fun and entertaining as it is thought-provoking." - SF Reviews.net

"proves that excellent entertainment can and ought to be intellectually respectable -- a glorious example to us all." - Brian Stableford

"...readers are sure to enjoy his take on the paradoxes of time travel" - BookPage

"Intricately and intriguingly woven, lots of fun, and extremely thought provoking." - Stanley Schmidt

"Paul Levinson has outdone himself: The Plot to Save Socrates is a philosophically rich gem full of big ideas and wonderful time-travel tricks." - Robert J. Sawyer

"as happens with Kurt Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim . . . . the reader soon becomes unstuck in time . . . . Levinson presents one of the most unique books I've ever encountered. A highly recommended read." - Matt St. Amand

"Paul Levinson brings both intellectual heft and affection for his delightfully depicted characters to this highly original story of time travel . . . bringing all of its threads together in an ending that is emotionally satisfying and extremely moving. The Plot to Save Socrates will provoke thought long after readers have finished the book, at which point many may want to pick it up and read it again, to savor its twists and turns." - Pamela Sargent, SFWeekly

"Fast-paced and full of plot twists." - Davis Enterprise (California)

"an elaborately-reasoned temporal tale - a novelized thought experiment whose logic and ideas Socrates would have approved of" - John Joseph Adams, intergalacticmedicineshow.com

"a philosophically rich, engaging time travel story . . . a charming portrayal of Socrates" - Fantasybookspot.com

"a fun romp through 2500 years of Western history" - freshfiction.com

"I've never read anything like this before . . . The Plot to Save Socrates is highly, original, creative, and engaging. I enjoyed it from the first page." - Book.of.the.moment. at myspace.com/book_of_the_moment.com

"revels in the possibilities for paradoxes . . . . fresh and welcome" - Steven Silver's Reviews at sfsite

"frankly, he [Levinson] is one of my 'read on sight' authors . . . The Plot to Save Socrates is a tapestry of times and characters and philosophies, with an excellent look at history. . . ." - Jerry Wright, Bewildering Stories at bewilderingstories.com

"a very intelligently written novel . . . ." - GF Willmetts, at SFcrowsnest.com

"Paul Levinson handles a complicated plot and a multitude of characters in a manner that can only be described as masterful. . . . I highly recommend this book, and I won't be surprised if it wins several awards." - Scott M. Sandridge, specmusicmuse

"This book was a lot of fun, and surprisingly poignant at the end. (Yes, I'll admit I cried a little.) . . . I was worried this would be a fairly cold sci-fi book, where I never got to like any of the characters, but somehow by halfway through I found I really cared about them. I'm not sure how Levinson managed that . . . but somehow they all just got inside me." - Lady Amalthea, eharlequin.com

". . . a new metaphor for the literary tradition of time travel." - Robert Blechman, blogcritics.org

"Socrates has always seemed a rather dour and dull figure to me but Paul Levinson breathes new life into this time." - Debbie, ck2skwipsandkritiques.com

"an extremely engaging, entertaining story. . ." - Laurie Thayer, Rambles.net

"truly a thought-provoking, breathtaking, and highly entertaining novel." - Lysette Brodey, PerpetualProse.com

"The Plot to Save Socrates turns on its head Plato's report of Socrates' poisoning ..." - Gerry Elman, Esq., Stanford Alumni Blog

"Doppelgangers, deception, and the sheer amount of historical reference alone make this novel magnificent, but that is not all!... Paul Levinson has created a historical text for all ages, making the plot flow like wine and pleasing to even the most hesitant of readers." - Jenna A, luxuryreading.com

"I was hooked by the second page." - Kanti Burns, Book Reviews and More

"A lively cast of historical figures populates this epoch-bending adventure, highly recommended especially for fans of alternate history novels!" - Midwest Book Review

"I was rapidly drawn into this tapestry ..." - Kath Middleton, Ignite Books

"Cool stuff!" - Examined Worlds: Philosophy and Science Fiction

"This single timeline approach is more elegant and more convoluted than other theories, and Levinson handles it extremely well, jumping the narrative through twenty-five hundred years without missing a beat." - Greg Hickey, Socrates, Time Travel, and Donald Trump

The Plot to Save Socrates... now available in "author's cut" ebook!

my avatar reads from the very beginning of The Plot to Save Socrates ... in Second Life ... it starts "Athens, 2042... Sierra Waters had always done everything for the thrill..."

and here's an excerpt from a heretofore unknown Socratic dialogue...

A group has been formed to help Sierra Waters in her adventures:

Facebook Sierra Waters, time traveler

See also Ten Things You May Not Have Known about Sierra Waters...

In the meantimes...

Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

See me read The Plot to Save Socrates on December 9, 2007, on a computer screen near you! FREE!

Sierra Water's e-mail to me also FREE!

Like a personally autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates in time for the holidays, at no extra cost? Email me for details!

painting by Jean-Baptiste Régnault, 1785
Socrates dragging Alcibiades from the Embrace of S.

And, who is this mysterious "S." in this real painting by Régnault from 1785....

Sierra Waters?

And on the right - Napoli's "Death of Alcibiades" (1839) - a crucially altered turning point in The Plot to Save Socrates

Speaking of which:
news about the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates - Unburning Alexandria!

See bottom of this page for reviews of The Plot to Save Socrates from Goodreads ...

                                                             ~~~ +++ ~~~

New New Media, 2nd edition, published by Penguin/Pearson, August 2012

New New Media, 1st edition, published by Penguin/Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, September 2009

Joan Walsh, Editor-in-Chief of Salon.com, says

Paul Levinson takes you on a walking tour – actually, it's more like a running tour – of the media innovations that are transforming our world. He's not just a scholar, he's an explorer, immersing himself in MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and multiple blogging platforms to help us make sense of the galloping changes in media. Have we entered a glorious new era of media democracy, or are these innovations leveling standards of fairness and authority? Levinson remains an optimist without being blind to the dark side of change. Whether you want to learn to blog, podcast or Twitter yourself, or just keep track of the way such tools are remaking the world around you, the "New New Media" is an indispensable guide.

Jeff Jarvis, Director of New Media Program, City University of New
York's Graduate School of Journalism; Founder, Entertainment Weekly; Creator, BuzzMachine blog, says

Paul Levinson provides an invaluable and encyclopaedic guide to the newest of new media invented so far.

Mignon Fogarty, creator of the award-winning Grammar Girl podcast, and author of the New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing , says

Insightful and comprehensive. The overviews are great for people who want to quickly get up-to-speed on the entire landscape or more experienced Web addicts who want to branch out, and the anecdotes and history will delight people who consider themselves old-timers.

40-minute lecture February 23, 2011, at St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY: "North Africa Shows the Medium is Still the Message: McLuhan at 100" with discussion of new new media ...

20-minute interview Mark Molaro did with Paul Levinson on The Alcove, November 2007 ...

Or an audio podcast - An Introduction to New New Media - from 12 June 2009, if you prefer...

Penguin/Pearson/Allyn & Bacon's promotional video for New New Media...

~~~ +++ ~~~

The Silk Code

The Silk Code

The Silk Code, winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel of 1999, features NYPD forensic detective Dr. Phil D'Amato - hero of three of my earlier award-nominated novelettes. Published by Tor Books, it reached #8 on the Locus Paperback Best Seller List in February 2001.

Watch the trailer here....

What the critics said:

"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

"As twisted as a double helix. " -- Wired

"D'Amato is an appealingly savvy character, and Levinson brings a great deal of invention to the endeavor." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"It is hard to put down, easy to pick up again, and an interesting read. " -- San Diego Union-Tribune

"Mixes up-to-the-minute biotechnology with ancient myth, science fiction with police procedure, and prehistory with the near future. It's an impressive debut." -- Joe Haldeman

"Forensic detective Phil D'Amato is one of my favorite characters, and the puzzles he solves are always imaginative, ingenious, and addictive, but Paul Levinson really outdoes himself this time in a mystery involving murders, moths, mummies, the Silk Road, poisons, fireflies, and forensics, all woven into a mystery only D'Amato could solve! A marvelous book!" -- Connie Willis

"This damn book has everything: interesting science, suspense, characters that live on the page - and that we like! -- and it debuts a new series hero, Dr. Phil D'Amato, forensic detective. I couldn't put The Silk Code down. I'll wager you won't be able to either. Oh, and this is the kicker: The Silk Code is Paul Levinson's first novel. " -- Jack Dann

"At last we get Paul Levinson's superb forensic sleuth, Phil D'Amato, in a full-length novel. If you know Phil from his previous appearances, I need say no more. If you don't, kick back and enjoy a mystery that spans the ages." --Jack McDevitt

"The Silk Code is an intriguing story refreshingly rich not only in action but in ideas. Seldom have I seen a story so engagingly weave together so many seemingly disparate (dare I say it?) threads." --Stanley Schmidt, editor of Analog

"Paul Levinson is an exceptional new writer, behind whose work stands an impressive body of knowledge and a great deal of human understanding. His first novel signals a writer to watch for the provocation and pleasure that he will bring to thoughtful readers. The Silk Code is smoothly written, evocative, and spicy! Highly recommended." -- George Zebrowski

"The Silk Code is a splendidly imaginative novel that explores worlds of ideas both scientific and philosophical, while carrying the reader effortlessly across countries, times, and cultures." -- Charles Sheffield

"The Silk Code is science fiction in the classic style, with an innovative mystery that breaks new ground. Acclaimed for his short fiction and insightful writing on the computer age, Paul Levinson now brings his many talents to a complex novel that will keep you guessing until the last page. " -- Catherine Asaro

"... sheer conceptual verve" -- Robert K. J. Killheffer, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

"...cerebral but gripping" -- Booklist

"Combining Neanderthals and mechanical looms, cantaloupes and coded butterflies, Levinson's debut novel...offers a flurry of amazing prehistoric technologies, demonstrating that the mysteries of our past can be just as fruitful as those of our future... Levinson creatively explains gaps in both ancient history and biology... providing more wonders than many a futuristic epic." -- Publishers Weekly

"...well-informed and imaginative" -- Kirkus Reviews

"...spins an ingenious web of genetic manipulation and anthropological evidence" --Library Journal

"A rare thriller that actually achieves its goals as a detective tale and a work of boldly speculative sf." -- Gary K. Wolfe, Locus Magazine

"I read this book quite a few years ago but I felt compelled to re-read it because parts of the story have been so firmly wedged in my brain that I needed to experience the entire thing again." -- Cannonball Read

"This is one I don't hesitate to recommend." - Jandy's Reading Room

"Paul Levinson's The Silk Code is inventive. I can't said I'd ever read another SF novel that included Neanderthals, bioengineering and the Amish." - Kristin's Book Log

"I found the genetic manipulation that Levinson describes absolutely fascinating." - Silk Screen Views

"I was entertained" - The Review Curmudgeon

Enjoy Shaun Farrell's free podiobook reading of The Silk Code...

~~~ +++ ~~~

Cellphone: The Story of the World's Most Mobile Medium and How It Has Transformed Everything!


Cellphone covers everything from books to laptops in exploring the the evolution of media mobility. It focuses on the personal impact and social change-- both freeing and limiting-- of the smartphone in every day life.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke called Cellphone "A superb and often amusing account of one of the greatest revolutions in human history, in which we are now living. The wristwatch phone of the old science fiction stories is now a reality! What more can we expect? Direct brain to brain communication? Stay tuned...."

Douglas Rushkoff, writing in TheFeature.com, says Cellphone makes "an excellent case."

Carlin Romano, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, says, "Levinson maintains a sense of humor about the rush to pack every imaginable function into cells."

British MediaWeek calls the book "a thought-provoking analysis".

Talking in the media about Cellphone...

I appeared on National Public Radio's popular program Talk of the Nation in May 2004, talking about my book in a segment called "Cell Phone Culture"... Listen here...

In April 2005, I talked about my book on a nationally broadcast CBS News "The Early Show" segment on kids and cellphones as part of their special series, "Cellular Nation." See the interview and read an excerpt from the book....

I talked about cellphone bling on ABC's Nightline, September 2006.

And The Discovery Channel's new series, "The Inside Story of..." premiered in December 2006 with a look at "The Cellphone Revolution" featuring me talking about the extraordinary social impact of the cellphone... check out the video.

~~~ +++ ~~~

Realspace: The Fate of Physical Presence in the Digital Age, On and Off Planet


Realspace explores the need for real face-to-face interaction and physical movement in an age of cyberspace... the destiny of humanity to reach beyond this planet and explore outer space...and how these themes play in our 21st century world.

Publisher's Weekly says "Fans of Levinson's previous works, as well as those interested in the relations between cyberspace, 'real space' and outer space, should relish this challenging and mind-opening read."

The Midwest Book Review says "RealSpace is an essential, thought-provoking purchase."

Public Intelligence Blog says RealSpace is "a gem of reflection."

And Edward Tenner, author of Why Things Bite Back, called Realspace "a rich, original, and sophisticated work that will be rewarding reading both for science fiction enthusiasts and for professionals in the history and sociology of science and technology."

~~~ +++ ~~~

Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium

Digital McLuhan

Professors in graduate and undergraduate classes around the world use Digital McLuhan to help their students put the Internet into perspective. This book applies media theorist Marshall McLuhan's ideas from the television age to modern technologies. Wired's Kevin Kelly said about Digital McLuhan, "Paul Levinson completes McLuhan's pioneering work. Read this book if you want to decipher life on the screen." The New York Times said "Levinson performs a useful service ... [he] applies McLuhan's work to almost every facet of modern communications" and in another article "Digital McLuhan presents McLuhan in a new light, [for] a generation grappling with the transforming effects of cyberspace, cell phones and virtual reality." Digital McLuhan was included on the late Robert Anton Wilson's " Recommended Reading List," of "the bare minimum of what everybody really needs to chew and digest before they can converse intelligently about the 21st Century." Digital McLuhan won the "2000 Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship".

~~~ +++ ~~~

The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution

The Soft Edge

The Soft Edge received major critical acclaim -- ranging from Wired ("Remarkable in both scholarly sweep and rhetorical lyricism...") and The Financial Times of London ("a book that is both full of insights and provocative") to Amazon.com's Cyberculture editor ("Levinson has a knack for making his reader feel intelligent and respected") and Analog ("...defies the critics of technology").

3 scholars ponder the meaning of The Soft Edge

I talked about The Soft Edge on December 30, 1997 at Borders Bookstore at the World Trade Center.  CSPAN recorded the talk and aired it in February 1998.  The bookstore was destroyed on 9/11.
~~~ +++ ~~~

More fiction ...

Borrowed Tides

My second novel, Borrowed Tides, tells the story of the first mission to Alpha Centauri led by a philosopher of science and a specialist in Native American mythology, two old friends from the Bronx in their seventies. From the reviews: Library Journal said Borrowed Tides is "...packed with layers of meaning that blend ancient legends and modern science and provides an intriguing glimpse into the mysteries of time and space." Gerald Jonas in The New York Times Book Review said that Borrowed Tides is "....bizarre enough to satisfy readers..." Booklist called it a "to-the-last-page spellbinder." Publishers' Weekly said "Politics blends neatly with spirituality in Levinson's second novel ... an ingenious narrative that loops back on itself like a Moebius strip." Gary K. Wolfe, writing in Locus, said "Levinson does a terrific job .... [reminiscent] of the philosophic space fiction of James Blish or the reality-testing scenarios of Philip K. Dick." Locus also picked it as "New and Notable" in April 2001, and it was a May 2001 Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) Selection. On the other hand, Adam Wendt said "it has some interesting ideas but no depth" on his Agnostic Audiophile Smorgasborg blog.

~~~ +++ ~~~

The Consciousness Plague

Dr. Phil D'Amato returns in a gripping New York City science fiction mystery, as this NYPD forensics detective faces a strange series of murders and memory losses in The Consciousness Plague. This novel won the 2003 Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work. Roland Green, writing in Booklist, said The Consciousness Plague "more nearly reaches the heights of Isaac Asimov's classic sf mysteries than those of most other genre hands who attempt them manage to do these days." Tom Easton said in the November 2002 issue of Analog that "This is Levinson's best to date." Library Journal said "Levinson's intelligent blend of police procedural and speculative fiction should appeal to fans of mystery and sf." Locus' Gary K. Wolfe called it "a pretty crisp murder mystery." Paul Di Filippo said in SFWeekly that "D'Amato [is] ... an earnest Everyman, operating on a shoeshine and a hunch." And Gregg Thurlbeck in Rambles.net said "it's a clever amalgam of science fiction and police procedural." Locus picked The Consciousness Plague as "New and Notable" in April 2002. And it was selected as a Spring 2002 Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) Featured Alternate and a Spring Editor's Pick of the Mystery Guild. The audiobook edition of The Consciousness Plague, read by Mark Shanahan, was nominated for a 2005 Audie award.

~~~ +++ ~~~

The Pixel Eye

My fourth novel from Tor is a darker, gritty Phil D'Amato mystery with sf overtones. The Pixel Eye, where holograms, cellphones and squirrels are used for surveillance in near-future New York City -- published in hardcover in 2003 and trade paper in 2004. . . .

The New York Times Book Review said "The nuttiness of the premise and the grittiness of the near-future New York ambiance are equally appealing" and they selected and reprinted several paragraphs from The Pixel Eye in the August 17, 2003 "NY Bookshelf: Novels: Tales of Detectives, Art and Squirrels" feature in The City section -- one of four new "New York" books.

Tom Easton, writing in Analog, said "Paul Levinson's latest Phil D'Amato romp ... is nicely straightforward and an interesting take on the real world of the moment."

Publisher's Weekly calls The Pixel Eye a "breezily chilling story" and says it is "enough to send a shiver down most readers' spines."

Library Journal said "Levinson's latest novel featuring the resourceful and wise-cracking D'Amato delivers another satisfying mix of hard sf intrigue and detective story set against a 21st-century New York City" that is "a fast-moving story that belongs in most libraries."

SF Weekly says "The Pixel Eye is a thoroughly enjoyable book, extremely readable, and brave in confronting the consequences of September 11."

Cinescape says "D'Amato is a charming narrator, and an intriguing character, which also contributes to Pixel's successes."

SFRevu says "Long time readers of science fiction should consider him [Levinson] their first choice when it comes to spreading the word of sf..."

The Pixel Eye was a finalist for the 2004 Prometheus Award, given by The Libertarian Futurist Society.

~~~ +++ ~~~
Translations ... stats and details

The Soft Edge - Portuguese editionThe Soft Edge - 1st Polish editionThe Silk Code - Polish editionDigital McLuhan - Romanian editionDigital McLuhan - Chinese editionThe Consciousness Plague - Polish editionCellphone - Polish editionDigital McLuhan - Japanese edition

~~~ +++ ~~~

Short Fiction

My award-winning short fiction - science fiction, dark fantasy, mystery - has appeared ten times in Analog, the leading science fiction magazine. My 29 short stories, novelettes, and novellas have also been published in anthologies, reprinted, translated, and adapted into other genres.

Among the highlights:

"The Chronology Protection Case" introduced my popular NYPD forensic detective, Dr. Phil D'Amato, who comes up against no less an antagonist than the Universe itself, attempting to prevent scientists from discovering the secret of time travel. This novelette went on to be a finalist for the Nebula and Sturgeon awards and was adapted into a short film, and into a radio play that was performed at New York's Museum of Television and Radio and nominated for the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Play. The story has been reprinted four times, including in Barry Malzberg's collection The Best Time Travel Stories of All Time. Phil D'Amato returns in "The Copyright Notice Case" and "The Mendelian Lamp Case", and in three of my novels.

Enjoy the Edgar-nominated 38-minute radioplay of "The Chronology Protection Case"

The Chronology Protection Case Edgar nominee 2002 best radio play

or see the 90-second trailer for Jay Kensinger's 2002 movie of my story...

Added May 2009: And here's the complete, uncut, 43-minute movie!

Wikipedia entry on Phil D'Amato

~~~ +++ ~~~
"Loose Ends" is the first in a series of stories in which a group of people who are trying to revive the US space program send Jeff Harris back in time to stop the Challenger disaster - but he gets pulled off-course and lands in November 1963 and is presented with other opportunities as he lives through the 1960s again, and travels to other times as well. This novella was a finalist in the sf short fiction "triple sweeps" - the Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon awards - and was followed in Analog by "Little Differences" and "Late Lessons"; the concluding story in the set will be "Last Calls".

My stories have appeared in anthologies edited by Orson Scott Card, Jane Yolen, Jack Dann, Marty Greenberg, Kathryn Cramer and others - and in David Hartwell's 1998 The Year's Best SF 3.   You can find a complete list of anthologies with my science fiction stories in my Amazon store.

~~~ +++ ~~~ +++ ~~~ +++ ~~~ +++ ~~~ +++ ~~~


• 2005 Neil Postman Award for Outstanding Public Intellectual winner -- given by the Media Ecology Association

• 2005 "Audie" Award finalist -- The Consciousness Plague audiobook

• 2004 Teacher of the Year winner -- given by Fordham University's Graduate Student Association

• 2004 Prometheus Award finalist -- The Pixel Eye

• 2003 Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work winner -- The Consciousness Plague

• 2002 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Play nominee -- "The Chronology Protection Case"

• 2000 Locus Award for Best First Novel winner -- The Silk Code

• 2000 Barnes & Noble Maiden Voyages Award for Best First Novel runner-up -- The Silk Code

• 2000 Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship winner -- Digital McLuhan

• 1999 Homer Award finalist, novelette --"Little Differences"

• 1999 Homer Award finalist, novelette --"The Orchard"

• 1999 Sturgeon Award finalist, short story --"Advantage, Bellarmine"

• 1999 Homer Award finalist, short story --"Advantage, Bellarmine"

• 1998 Hugo Award finalist, novella --"Loose Ends"

• 1998 Sturgeon Award finalist, novella -- "Loose Ends"

• 1998 AnLab Award first runner-up, novella --"Loose Ends"

• 1998 Homer Award finalist, short story --"A Medal for Harry"

• 1997 Nebula Award finalist, novella --"Loose Ends"

• 1997 Nebula Award finalist, novelette --"The Copyright Notice Case"

• 1996 Homer Award winner, novelette -- "The Copyright Notice Case"

• 1996 Nebula Award finalist, novelette -- "The Chronology Protection Case"

• 1996 Sturgeon Award finalist, novelette -"The Chronology Protection Case"

Paul Levinson's books on Goodreads

The Plot to Save Socrates The Plot to Save Socrates
reviews: 47
ratings: 217 (avg rating 3.41)

The Silk Code The Silk Code (Phil D'Amato, #1)
reviews: 19
ratings: 134 (avg rating 3.28)

The Consciousness Plague The Consciousness Plague (Phil D'Amato)
reviews: 12
ratings: 75 (avg rating 3.39)

Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium
reviews: 2
ratings: 36 (avg rating 3.83)

New New Media New New Media
reviews: 5
ratings: 40 (avg rating 3.62)