three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
45-Mar-Apr-2010
user_rating: 
0

A-GalileosDreamRobinson, best known for his Mars trilogy, is the author of fifteen novels and several collections of short stories.

The Story: Galileo Galilei is renowned for, among other things, showing mankind the moons of Jupiter. But could it be that those moons had something to show him as well? In Galileo’s Dream, the future human inhabitants of the Jovian system may have been helping the famed astronomer along. But their intentions may not be entirely benign, as Galileo is pulled into the future to advise the Jovians on how to deal with alien lifeforms discovered beneath the surface of the icy moon, Europa. Combining his talents for science fiction and historical fiction, Robinson tells a time-travel fable about the nature and consequences of scientific inquiry.
Spectra. 544 pages. $26. ISBN: 9780553806595.

Barnes & Noble Review 4 of 5 Stars
"[Robinson’s] Galileo is fully fleshed, blood and sinew, from his troublesome hernia to his weird laugh, from his fits of stubborness, pride, and temper to his love for his favorite daughter. … The reader truly shares Galileo’s thrill of scientific insights and his frustrations with the reactionary forces that hinder progress. Likewise, his 17th-century milieu is vividly sketched, and all the speech of its inhabitants rings colloquial and earthy." Paul DiFilipo

Guardian (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"Galileo’s Dream … is a gleaming return to form for one of the world’s best SF writers: thought-provoking and moving in equal measure. Robinson captures the joy of scientific discovery better than anyone else working today; the characterization is splendid, with Galileo himself coming sharply to life, while the future-set sections feel neither superfluous nor clunky. Elegant, charming, funny and profound, Galileo’s Dream is magnifico." Adam Roberts

Independent (UK) 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel about the events leading to Galileo’s trial for heresy is a warts and all picture, but one that makes us love and admire the great astronomer in spite of his weaknesses. … He is also, and this is the colossal risk Robinson takes, the hero of a science-fiction novel in which he escapes his own time to participate in one of the greatest of human adventures—one that threatens, yet again, to dethrone humanity from the centre of its perceived universe." Roz Kaveney

January Magazine 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Galileo’s Dream is a thought-provoking book which avoids easy shots and proselytizing to encourage the reader to engage with the world that he develops. Told with verve and a sense of excitement, this is a book which expands upon the role of a gifted and curious individual within the world and encourages the reader to wonder at it." Iain Emsley

Sciencefictionandfantasy.co.uk 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the great ‘hard science fiction’ authors and this novel is no exception, with fantastic theories of the evolution of science, quantum theory and the true nature of time. Galileo’s Dream is a little slow paced in the beginning but unfolds to a very thought-provoking and fresh science fiction novel with a very engrossing story challenging preconceptions about time, reality and history itself."

Critical Summary

Robinson is already considered science fiction royalty thanks to his Mars trilogy and other works, so critics were happy to experience his latest work. They also seemed more receptive to Galileo’s Dream than they were to Robinson’s more recent trilogy, a series of near-future novels that focused on the politics of climate change; one critic called this novel a "return to form." But what seemed to impress reviewers most about Galileo’s Dream was not its rendering of the future, but of the astronomer himself, who is portrayed as both an imperfect man and an inspiring figure of science.