Kim Stanley Robinson’s illustrious SF career has earned him every major award in the business—including the Nebula and Hugo Awards.
With Galileo’s Dream, Robinson crafts an instant masterpiece that blends epic adventure and thoughtful alternate history. Ganymede, a rebellious Jovian, attempts to bring famed scientific mind Galileo forward in time to alter the course of history with astonishing results.
©2009 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
If I didn't even finish this book, why am I giving it 3 stars? I think much of the problem is in me rather than in the book. I have read other books by Robinson and think he is a good writer, and this book is also well written. So what was the problem? There is not any sympathetic character. Galileo is celebrated in this book as "the first scientist", and I would not disagree. When I was a science teacher, I portrayed him so to my students.... However, he was also a fairly unpleasant person. I had known about many of his less admirable traits before reading this book, but I had not realized that he came from what is now called a dysfunctional home. He had a horrible father and a horrible mother. Unfortunately, he was one of those people who continued the cycle of horribleness rather than breaking free of it. Apparently when he was in a bad mood or drunk (a frequent occurrence), servants and children had to hide from his fists. I already knew about the shameful way he treated his daughters, but I had forgotten some of the details. When I got to the part where he has the servants tie his 12-year-old daughter hand and foot and cart her screaming and crying to the place where she would be imprisoned for the rest of her life, I just couldn't go on any further.
I also had not realized the extent of his terrible health. I have come away from this book with increased sympathy for how much he accomplished in spite of it.
I was further infuriated by pretty much every single Roman Catholic bigwig in the book. The evils of the Inquisition and the corruption in the Catholic Church in those times is widely known, but as one "holy" man after another adds to the torment of Galileo's life, it just got to be too much of a bad thing. I felt myself slipping from my normal laid back atheist position to a strong desire to run out and find a Catholic priest that I could punch in the belly for old times' sake.
So, if you can tolerate a LOT of misery and horribleness inflicted on and by the main character and still enjoy the book, then you may very well find much in this book to recommend it. But if, like me, you need a main character who is simpatico, and a few rays of sunshine to leaven the shadows, you may not like this one. Consider carefully.
p.s. George Guidall, the narrator, does his usual excellent job.
More a historical novel than science fiction, Galileo's Dream covers the latter half of Galileo's life. While there are some action scenes this is not an action novel. And while there is time travel and alien intelligence, it is more a novel of about Galileo, his scientific ideas, and Vatican politics. If you make it through the twenty hours you will gain a understanding and an affection for this flawed genius. It does go on for too long. It could stand being about a third shorter. But I would recommend it for an entertaining introduction to the life of Galileo Galilee.
Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken
This seems to be one of those polarizing books--people either love it or hate it. I decided to try it because (1) the premise sounded intriguing and (2) I enjoyed KSR's "Red Mars" immensely, although I could never get into the rest of the series. "Galileo" was a big disappointment; thus, among the polarized opinions, I vote on the "tedious and pointless" side. I got about 3 hours in and just couldn't stand it any more. Gave it two stars because I felt bad giving only one star to something I hadn't finished--it might have gotten better farther along, but I wasn't sticking around to find out.
Robinson, already known for being able to construct detailed and realistic environments, makes the world of Galileo come alive with a vividness reminiscent of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. Galileo as a character is at once charming, frustrating, and human.
The Jovian future scenes add an appropriately otherworldly flavor to the book, though these scenes cause the plot to drag at times, especially in the middle third of the book. But stick with it and you are rewarded with a story arc that is satisfying and thought provoking at the same time.
The way that Robinson weaves the facts of Galileo's life and his actual writings into the fictional, time travel sections is wonderful enough to make one wonder if it isn't true after all.
Guidall is without question the best in the business and this work is more of the excellence I've come to expect.
KSR is in a class by himself. Galileo's Dream is not perfect, but still is a very good listen. The only thing I could not quite get past was how easily Galileo seems to accept the fantastical future people he comes into contact with. That said, even if viewed only as historical fiction, this book is great; the sci fi elements are like fun gravy added on top.
The meat of the book was great. Really gave one the impression of the life of 17th century Italy was really like (I have no frame of reference, but it certainly had the air of believability). My only complaint is the ending was a bit anti-climactic. It fit, but I felt like he wrapped it up took quickly and didn't get into it as much as I would have liked.
The narrator was incredible as well. Really brought the characters to life for me.
I like the overall concept of this novel immensely. I love the idea of Galileo travelling back and forth between his own time and a mysterious future version of Jupiter's moons. I like the idea of using this concept as a way to explore the importance of scientific thought.
The structure is flawed though. My feeling was that there needed to be a better balance between the scenes in Galileo's time and those in the future. A huge amount of the novel reads like a biography of Galileo. The time is evoked with great detail and texture, so if you know little about Galileo you may find this fascinating. If, however, you're already read a Galileo biography, you may find it excessively repetitive. I wanted more imaginative sci-fi, and less of a sense that the author was typing up his research notes.
It's definitely worth a listen, though, if you like long, rambling novels, and the ending is rather magical.
The reader is perfect, having a warm voice with just a hint of an Italian accent.
I need to start by pointing out I'm a huge KSR fan and own something like 9 or 10 of his books.
I simply loved this novel. It had me interested from start to finish. Portions of it were exquisitely well-written, there was plenty of drama and even a little romantic tension to keep things moving. The deep descriptions of math and science didn't phase me, although having read many KSR books, I'm used to it.
The narrator was wonderful and a pleasure to listen to. I loved his low growl and his character voice work.
You probably have to be a hardcore SF fan, or at least a big Robinson fan, to enjoy this book as thoroughly as I did, but if you are, you won't be disappointed.
I expected an exciting story. This is more a biography with a tiny bit of sci-fi on the side. Maybe it gets better as it goes, but I've not managed to make it through the first part after trying to engage with the story for over three weeks now.
I enjoyed this book. I knew very little about Galileo's life so it was a lovely experience getting to know such a famous historical figure through the novel. I also loved the insertion of the sci fi element and what that insertion taught Galileo without taking away from his genius. I like the book more and more the longer I am away from it. The whole book did feel a lot like a dream in many ways.
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