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Celestial Matters Paperback – June 15, 1997
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Celestial Matters is a startling novel of hard SF in which the scientific beliefs of the ancient Greeks are literal fact. The empire of Alexander the Great has lasted a thousand years, and for a thousand years it has been at war with the empire of the Orient. Now a spaceship is traveling through the heavenly crystalline spheres to the sun to return with the ultimate weapon: a fiery piece of the sun itself. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Garfinkle deftly captures the Ptolemaic universe in his first novel, an alternative history built on the assumption that ancient Greek science is accurate. Aias, scientist of the Delian League, commands the first expedition to the sun on Chandra's Tear, a ship sculpted from the moon. He sets out to harness a piece of the sun, return it to Earth, and destroy the enemy Middle Kingdom's capital, 'AngXou. But aboard the ship, assassins and traitors try to thwart the expedition. This well-written story combines some Greek philosophy and beliefs with adventure. Highly recommended for sf collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an absolutely fascinating novel. I don't know whether to classify it as alternate history, fantasy, alternative science, or what-not. It doesn't really matter because it's in a class by itself. Although it may be hard to find, being out of print, it is certainly worth the effort to track down a copy.
The "Delian League" has lasted for a thousand years.
But while this is the historical split, there's a much greater physical one. For on this Earth, Aristotelian science really is true. Planets really do move in crystal spheres about an unmoving Earth beneath a vast shell of fixed stars, and they really are made out of different stuff from mere "Earthly" matter. Projectiles actually do travel in straight lines until they stop, and you really can cure someone by balancing his humors.
It's a very strange world. Interesting, but strange. Every so often the characters say/do something that is completely, utterly, weird - yet makes sense within the world of Aristotelian physics.
The basic story is interesting too. It's a good read, I reccommend it.
Richard Garfinkle's novel Celestial Matters is set in a world which diverged from ours early on. It is set in the 900th year of the Delphic League (roughly AD 500). In this world, science, as envisioned by Aristotle, is the driving force behind the world. The Greeks' enemy for world empire are the Taoist inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom, whose science is based on Chinese understanding of the world. This concept is intriguing in and of itself.
The story is of the first ship, made of Moon Rock, to travel to the Sun to steal solar matter. The Greeks intend to use Sun Fire in their nine-hundred year long war against the Middlers.
Although Garfinkle's characterization may not be the strongest and his plot may not move particularly quickly, this book is high concept. The idea that Aristotelian science actually is the way the world works is extremely interesting and Garfinkle handles it extremely well. However, he also postulates that Chinese science works, never attempting to explain how two rival scientific ideologies can co-exist and work. On the other hand, both these forms of scientific thought co-existed in reality trying to explain natural phenomena, so there is no real reason why they can't complement each other in Garfinkle's world.
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Treating ancient scientific theories as fact is a great idea.Read more