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Literature / Republic Lost

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"We must tear down the world to rediscover the human spirit. We must cease being puppets of the Fates. Solidarity, more solidarity, forever solidarity."—Goetia Mirror (No. 23)

"Break on through to the other side."—The Doors

"Not self-rule, but rule by reason and the reasonable."—The Republic's Motto

Republic Lost is a 2011 dystopian novel by J. Paul Rinnan, set in a post-apocalyptic, nuclear-war-ravaged North America. The center of civilization is The Republic, an authoritarian city-state based on the society described in Plato's The Republic. The Republic is ruled by a elite class of philosopher-kings and their super-computer, Kabiri-36, which manifests its personality in the form of the Greek Fates. The Republic is in an ongoing war with various anarchist movements, who live in communes outside its borders. The story centers on Glaucon, who is part of the guardians, the ruling class of philosopher-kings. He is forced to re-evaluate everything when he befriends some rebels operating within the Republic's borders. What ensues is a long, twisted story about friendship, betrayal, and violence, with a little bit of science fiction, mindrape, and psychological thriller thrown in.

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Important Characters:

  • Glaucon: The protagonist and anti-hero. Raised as a guardian of the Republic, he is torn by his friendship with the opposition.
  • Sophie: An anarchist soldier, working in the Republic to undermine its power. She has a sweet side, but is also a powerful fighter.
  • Zemer: Sophie's brother. An anarchist with strong pacifist leanings and a knowledge of future events.
  • Prodicus: The Republic's Guardian-King, hell-bent on absolute power and possessing a strange fixation on Glaucon and Sophie. Becomes the Big Bad as the story progresses.
  • Xenon: Leader of the resistance. Despite his followers' anti-authoritarian tendencies, he is very power hungry and has a somewhat Machiavellian side.


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Provides Examples Of:

  • Action Girl: Sophie.
  • Actual Pacifist: Zemer embodies this trope.
  • All Just a Dream:There is a possibility the story may be the product of a dream or a cogniscrambler illusion, as suggested by the ending.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: In universe, the Republic specifically tries to perpetuate this trope. Subverted by the actual anarchists in the book, who tend to be very pro-order and organization, though opposed to hierarchy.
  • Anti-Hero: Glaucon is a pretty good example: troubled past, egotistical, cynical, depressed, power-hungry, mentally unstable, unable to make decisions. He's a real piece of work sometimes.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Being that it is set in the future, there is plenty of fantastic technology that has yet to be invented. Prior to the start of the novel, a supercomputer was invented which radically advanced technology in an era called "The Kabiri Techflation." The most important product developed from this period was the jinn, which is essentially a psionic interface device. It allows the user to read minds, see the future, and control the world through thought. It is exceptionally dangerous, however, and can cause death if directed at other persons. Whereas the guardians use the jinn to control the minds of the population, Zemer masters its power to liberate them by knocking out electronics and spreading the Goetia Mirror newspaper.
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  • Author Tract: Some of Rinnan's more liberal views occasionally turn up, especially his dislike of crony-capitalism, hierarchy, and constant warfare. These elements are important parts of the Republic's economic system. Additionally, his interest in ancient Greek philosophy and anarchist ideas are prominently displayed as well, largely for good effect.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Much of the guardians are conditioned to fall into this.
  • Big Bad: Prodicus becomes more and more of a tyrant as the story progresses.
  • Blackand Gray Morality: Many of the characters are forced to wrestle with moral ambiguity throughout the book and their decisions tend to bring them a lot of guilt either way
  • Blatant Lies: The Republic runs on these, even going as far to re-write all great works of literature to be consistent with their message, making for some strange creations, like a conformist Holden Caulfield. Ironically, Prodicus himself falls victim to this, as his personal quest for Henosis ends up being just a trick by the Fates trying to spend time with their creator
  • Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Subverted, especially with Zemer, the Goetia Mirror, and the residents of Crypt. Arguably played straight with Xenon, but his desires for revenge twist any ideology he might hold.
  • Book Burning: After guardians alter a book's plot for moral purposes, they burn all the hard copies they can find in purification fires so no one will ever know altering took place.
  • Breadand Circuses: Consumption Junction is the epitome of this trope. It is a massive mall, filled with addictive things to consume and repetitive computer-made music. Mira-Disney also falls into this, being a malevolent successor of Disney.
  • Circles of Hell: When Sophie is immersed in the Kabiri Mainframe at the end of the book, Glaucon follows to save her. His mind creates his understanding of the afterlife, which arises from Book X of Plato's Republic. The world is filled with many areas and memories, the river Lethe, cyber-spirits, and an enormous spindle turned by the Fates, causing the dead to be reincarnated.
  • Cultural Rebel: Sophie and Zemer, obviously. Glaucon, and especially Patroclus, prove to be this by the end of the story.
  • Cyber Space: When persons go into the cogniscrambler to interact with Kabiri-36, they undergo hallucinations and visions in cyberspace. At the end of the book, Glaucon travels through a digital world to the center of Kabiri's consciousness.
  • Deadly Gas: Iama-B is a blue, toxic nerve gas that turns bodies into metal and twists the faces of the dead. Xenon allegedly released it in the First Ward in a terrorist attack. In Book II, Prodicus and the Fates secretly send Glaucon to release iama-B in the wards. They do this to frame the rebels and ensure Glaucon meets Sophie, preventing his future assassination.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Prodicus kills countless people in his hunger for power, and to achieve Henosis.
  • Dystopia: An excellent example.
  • Electric Torture: The mindstocks as well as the cogniscrambler. Not to mention Glaucon's immersion experience. The guardians also use electricity from xiphos sticks to control the population (Zeus Complex?).
  • Emo Teen: Glaucon has his moments of this but, considering that he is forced to live with his Mother's murderers as well as his own betrayals of his friends, this is understandable.
  • Energy Weapon: The Republic uses several. The Neokalashnikov is a plasma rifle designed to resemble the ancient Russian Kalashnikov. The Sonic Carbine fires a focused sound wave capable of injuring or liquefying opponents. Republican engineers constructed it to twang like a harp for aesthetic purposes. The Audiomembrane is a special force field which surrounds Heliopolis, protecting it from impure sounds from the outside world.
  • Everyone Is Related: A few surprise relationships turn up.
  • False Friend: Glaucon is this to Sophie, Zemer, and Terra for much of the first half of the book. Sophie, while she appears friendly to Glaucon when they first meet, was really sent by Xenon to assassinate him.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Republic follows the political ideology of Plato and creates three main social groups: philosophers, soldiers, and workers (helots). The philosophers have total power over the helots and view them as sub-human.
  • Floating Continent: Prodicus uses technology gained from his supercomputer, Kabiri-36, to build a flying island—Levantra. He intends to join his mind with Kabiri-36 so that he may reason without emotion and desire. He will also be able to control every square inch of the island, and its captive population, with unrivaled precision. "Levantra" combines the word "Levant" (term for most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories) and "Ra" (the Egyptian sun god). More than likely, the name is a subtle critique of religion, which builds imaginary castles in the sky and sacrifices innocent people to it.
  • Foreshadowing: Plenty of this, especially since Zemer and the Fates possess a gift of prophecy.
  • Genre Blind: Glaucon, arguably. Through much of the book, he has trouble recognizing the Republic as the dystopian evil empire it is, and this complicates things for him.
  • Hope Spot: Glaucon's and Sophie's escape, Zemer's having left part of his being in Kabiri-36, which saves everyone during the immersion sequence.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:Pretty much everyone who gets betrayed by Glaucon, except Zemer, who likely forsaw it happening.
  • Kangaroo Court: Zemer is subject to one of these. He unsuccessfully argues the court lacks personal and subject matter jurisdiction and then refuses to speak.
  • Kick the Dog: Prodicus has more than his share of moments. Killing Glaucon's mother for starters...
  • La Résistance: The Continental Caucus is the leading organization fighting the republic. Also, Sophie, Zemer, and their fellow operatives in the Republic with their publication of the Goetia Mirror.
  • Literal Changeof Heart: Sophie had heart replaced with a mechanical one thanks to Prodicus' experiments on her, setting the stage for her to become the Iron Queen
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Many characters have detailed back stories. As such, there are some pretty tangled relationships. Glaucon is the son of Xenon and a descendant of Abaris Hythloday, founder of the Republic; Sophie and Zemer are the niece and nephew of Prodicus.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Prodicus manipulates Glaucon and nearly everyone else in the guardian class throughout the book.
  • Meaningful Name: Most of the characters have names from Greek literiture, especially The Republic. Glaucon is remembered for questioning Socrates in The Republic. Sophie's name Sophia is the Hellenistic embodiment of wisdom. Hypatia was the Greek philosopher who was murdered for defending the library at Alexandria. Prodicus was one of the first Greek Sophists. Potone, the mother of Zemer and Sophie, takes her name from the older sister of Plato. Melete, Glaucon's mother, was named after the Muse of thought and meditation. Workers in the wards are given last names indicating they are seen as livestock: Brandon, Greyzer, Naybah, Kidd.
  • Mind Rape: and how. This society forces people into a mind control device (The Cogniscrambler). A popular punishment is the mindstocks, which shuts down body movement and the senses for sensory deprivation torture. And then there is the complete chaos after Glaucon is immersed. In any part of the story involving these, confusion runs rampant.
  • Moral Guardians: They actually call themselves Guardians.
  • Parental Substitute: Prodicus to Glaucon. Xenon to Sophie and Zemer.
  • Rage Within the Machine: This characterizes Glaucon for much of the book, and drives much of his behavior. He believes his mother was killed by the guardians and has to suck up to them to survive. He suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, views abuse as an indication of kindness, and is unable to control his emotions.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Sophie.
  • Room 101: The Republic burns people alive in a giant metal bull with a built in audio device that converts their screams to song. ISHIM, the secret police, operates out of a dungeon in the bowels of the Republic called Miantgast (Greek for sour stomach). Glaucon and especially Sophie are driven by a fear of being immersed in the super computer and being made into a single mind together with Prodicus.
  • Satire: Plato believed art was imitation, and Republic Lost is a distorted image of our modern world. It critiques current trends in society like blind obedience to authority, media propaganda, militarism, sexism, and rule by an elite class of technocrats and intellectuals. Examples include rifles that play music, the nihilistic materialism of Consumption Junction, altering stories to sanitize them of controversial content, "precise" face-chasing missiles that kill hundreds outside the Republic, and the media pundit Morpheus Alepou (Alepou is Greek for "fox").
  • Screw Destiny: Many characters see visions of fire and a world ruled by Kabiri-36; they attempt to change the future. Xenon attempts to avert this fate by creating the Continental Caucus. Sophie seeks to assassinate Glaucon. Rebels raid an armory and try to violently overthrow the Republic. Zemer uses the jinn to infiltrate Kabiri's mainframe by splitting his psyche and attaching a piece to Glaucon. This tactic is ultimately successful (though an alternate reading of the ending is possible).''
  • Sterility Plague: Fertility rates dropped in the Republic as a result of nuclear radiation. To increase reproduction, the guardians created the aphrodisiac pill "erosic". Over hundreds of years, the original purpose behind erosic was lost. Now, only guardians are allowed to use it, and it has become a ritualistic drug. Physical contact without the pill is a capital offense, preventing close romantic relationships from undermining loyalty to the State.
  • The Empire: The Republic embodies this trope.
  • The Power of Friendship: Sophie and Zemer through much of the book Sophie and Glaucon form a somewhat dysfunctional variant of this through much of the book, and may actually be an example of its deconstruction.
  • The Power of Trust: Subverted.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Slimetide, anybody??
  • Utopia: In Book V, "Crypt's Model Anarchism", Xenon explains life in anarchist communes to Glaucon. The dialogue is presented in traditional utopian fashion and acts as a hopeful alternative to the authoritarian Republic.

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