What does platonic twin mean here?

I scooped up one of the detached nanoprobes. In reality, the drones mimicked my intentions with their own manipulators, picking up the nanoprobe's platonic twin...Then I jammed it recklessly into Janos's head, into his occipital lobe.

This paragraph is quoted from a short Sci-fi story Dilation Sleep by Alastair Reynolds. In the context, the protagonist was doing a surgery for Janos with the help of the drones and nanoprobe. Because the author didn't mention platonic twin before, I researched the meaning of platonic: (of love or friendship) intimate and affectionate but not sexual. Also I found twin flame: the other half of your soul. Combining these two words together might have something to do with the relationship. I'm guessing this is a coined term to describe a device which supplements the nanoprobe, but I'm not sure.


1 Answer 1


Plato was a Greek philosopher who had some interesting ideas about quite a lot of things. The only one that is regularly attributed to him in everyday speech is, as you mentioned, the idea of platonic love.

He also proposed the idea of platonic forms, where any particular thing can be defined by its essence- the set of properties that any thing of its kind possesses.

If I understand the story correctly, the speaker is visualising picking up a nanoprobe and the drone actually does it, by picking up an object with the platonic form - the essence- of the object the speaker visualises.

Alternatively, it is possible that the author might just have picked the word because it sounded nice and didn't think too much what it might mean.

  • Hmmm, interesting, kind of makes sense to me
    – Luden
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 13:53

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