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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 262

Letters from Atlantis is a fantasy tale about a civilization that might have flourished about twenty thousand years ago. Scientists have figured out a way to send people's conscious minds into the past, where they lodge in the minds of their ancient hosts. The main character is Roy Colton, who...

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Letters from Atlantis is a fantasy tale about a civilization that might have flourished about twenty thousand years ago. Scientists have figured out a way to send people's conscious minds into the past, where they lodge in the minds of their ancient hosts. The main character is Roy Colton, who has been on several such time travels. Somewhere in a laboratory of the future his body lies sleeping, while his mind lives inside the mind of Ramifon Sigiliterimor Septagimot Stolifax Blayl (which translates as Beloved of the Gods and Light of the Universe), heir to the throne of Athilan, better known today as Atlantis; the prince is generally known as Ram. Through him, Roy gets a look at empires that existed in the remote past of human history, and Roy learns some of the secrets of a culture that historians had thought was only a figment of Plato's imagination.

In one of his writings, the Greek philosopher Plato mentions Atlantis, a great civilization that may have existed nine thousand years before his time. In Plato's account of Atlantis, it was destroyed by a terrible cataclysm that sank it beneath the sea. Roy discovers that Plato had some of the details right; for instance, the city of Atlantis was circular, just as Plato says. On the other hand, Atlantis—Athilan—existed much further in the past than Plato suggests. Using Plato's probably fictional account of Atlantis as its basis, Silverberg creates a wondrous and bizarre culture, fleshing it out with details of politics and religion, as well as descriptions of the Athilantans themselves.

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