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Galileo's Dream Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 29, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The creative imagination of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus–winner Robinson (The Years of Rice and Salt) is on display in this offbeat novel of scientific discovery. In 1609, a stranger tells Galileo Galilei about a recent Dutch device that magnifies distant objects. The Italian scientist develops his own version, and the success of his telescope brings him recognition and acclaim. Forty pages in, the book changes genres abruptly as the stranger brings Galileo to Europa, the second moon of Jupiter, in a far future where various factions quarrel over plans to colonize the distant sphere. During the course of several trips through time and space, Galileo becomes something of a pawn in the political conflicts while gaining treasured glimpses of the future of science. Readers will eagerly share Galileo's curiosity and astonishment at the wonders of both the past and the future. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

In early-seventeenth-century Venice, a mysterious stranger tells Galileo about magnifying lenses he has seen in the Netherlands, inspiring the scientist to construct a workable spyglass and later view the bodies in the night sky with it. One night, in company with the visitor, Galileo is transported centuries into the future and spatially to the moons of Jupiter. He’s the center of a dispute there between those who believe that, if he does certain things, their future will never come to pass and those who don’t believe it. Thereafter, Galileo strives to understand the wonders of what, during apparent syncopes, he is seeing on the Jovian moons, while earning his living and making his own discoveries in Italy. The latter eventually lead to arraignment for heresy for supporting the Copernican theory. Robinson skillfully melds the disputes of seventeenth-century Italy and speculation on future philosophical conflict, meanwhile providing an engrossing portrait of the epochal scientist—so engrossing that one may feel tempted to learn Tuscan to see how true-to-life Robinson’s depiction is. --Frieda Murray

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553806599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553806595
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,289,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Shepherd on March 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is something of a sprawl of a book, attempting to meld two stories, that of the life and times of Galileo and one of a far future battle around the Jovian moons. To connect the two, Galileo is `transported' to the future time and place via an `entangler', and returned after his visits with his memories and knowledge gained from his trip mainly erased via drugs, though with some residual `déjà vu' effects.

It's an uneasy balance between the two stories. On the one hand, we follow Galileo and get to see him as a great scientist, but also as a very fallible, hard-headed, and somewhat obnoxious person, along with thematic messages of where science should leave off and faith prevail, or perhaps meld in a type of synthesis that would have greatly altered the course of history as we know it; and on the other we observe (along with Galileo, who rarely takes any active part in the action) the efforts of the future civilization to resolve their own factional disputes while at the same time try to change the past to achieve a less horrifying path of humanity from Galileo's time to theirs.

The trouble is that these two parts are unequally balanced; Galileo's story is immediate and readily understandable, while the future society never seems to be concrete, never crystallizes into a `you are here' environment, despite strong descriptive material and some excellent scientific exposition of the known features of the Jovian moons and current theories about space-time and ten dimensional manifolds.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge fan of Kim Stanley Robinson's "The Years of Rice and Salt" which is a terrific blend of pseudo science fictional philosophy and religion, and fun and entertaining alternative history. It's deep and touching and provides a strong sense of activity (if not specifically action and adventure).

The concept behind "Galileo's Dream" drew me to the book the instant I read the description: Galileo is taken from Earth to the moons of Jupiter (which he discovered) in an attempt to modify the past to make for a better future. Unfortunately, while it's a fun concept, Robinson provides an uneven implementation.

The vast majority of the book follows Galileo over the course of 30 or 40 years through his major astronomical discoveries and inventions. His is, by far, the strongest character throughout the book that includes a mix of humans from the future, Galileo's daughters, and numerous other good and bad guys from 17th century Italy.

The first several times that Galileo is spirited away by "The Stranger" the table is set for a interesting view of human life in the future, living on a moons of Jupiter. I was settling in for a nice space/time travel ride but became disappointed and the increasingly shorter visits to space and the future, and the increasing focus on philosophies of time travel, it's impact on the past, and vagueness on the battles between science and religion.

These elements are interesting and good scifi fodder, however I found them to be bluntly addressed and not well balanced with the minute details of Galileo's daily travails and triumphs.

If you're interested in a solid period piece, with strong historical research and a decent story, then I'd recommend this book. But read with appropriately measured expectations.
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Format: Hardcover
"But why should science have to have a martyr?"

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of those quiet masters. Known predominantly for his Mars series, Robinson has a dedicated fan base who marvels at his vision and his storytelling. When you bring up the genre of science fiction, other names instantly gravitate toward the fore of the discussion: Asimov, Bear, Ringo, Niven, Weber. This is not to suggest that Robinson is a lesser novelist. In fact, where his Science in the Capital series on a global warming disaster of a worldwide level may have been a step back in terms of his storytelling strength, his newest book, GALILEO'S DREAM, is a surefire winner.

In GALILEO'S DREAM, we find ourselves embroiled in the scientific community and the life of Galileo Galilei in 1609. Science is expanding, and philosophers and mathematicians seek to make bold discoveries all within the shadow of the Church --- which seeks to make certain that no discoveries are too bold.

With some help from a mysterious stranger, Galileo creates a spyglass that he then expands into a telescope, which he uses to map the surface of the moon. Intrigued by the power of his own creation, he turns its sight on Jupiter. There, he discovers four moons, which he eventually determines revolve around the main planet body. His star is on the rise.

What he does not remember, however, are his late-night visitations to the moons he has recently discovered. Manipulated by the stranger who aided him in the invention of the device, Galileo is an unwitting pawn in a battle on the Jovian moons in the year 3020. One group seeks to use his mind to convince the others not to explore the oceans on the moon of Europa.
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