Book Review: ‘Galileo’s Dream’ by Kim Stanley Robinson

I finally braved getting this large tome out of my to-read-pile. It’s not that it scared me, I have pretty much adored all that I have read of Kim’s, it’s just that I’m busy researching at the moment and I knew that this would eat up my time and imagination. And it did, but it did not interfere with my work at all. I’m glad I pulled it out. It really was the best book at the best time.

‘Galileo’s Dream’, although being fiction, is 70% biographical. The story is essentially Galileo’s life from his work on telescopes up until his death. We see him rise to fame for his mathematical work and his work with telescopes, his writings on the Copernican universe, and his downfall and judgement by the Catholic Church.

Interspersed in this non-fiction are little snippets of fiction that Kim has placed in Galileo’s story. Each section fits into the truth so well and mirrors excerpts from Galileo’s writing. As to what they involve, well you’ll have to read it yourself; but Kim is a science fiction writer at best.

Just like Galileo the book is intelligent and funny with a great amount of detail being given on politics and his everyday life. Each character is unique and you get to experience many wonderful personalities. The imagery in this book is wonderful, sumptuous and beautiful, full of the observations of an early scientist.

At the heart of the story is the story of science and one of it’s founding giants, a man who connected what he could see and observe to mathematics, and looked to see if these results were repeatable and consistent. The fiction of the story is a further exploration of science and philosophy which is powerful and a great enough story in itself.

This really is a wonderful work which gives me a great respect for Galileo and has encouraged me to read further into his story and see how much the details in the book are true. Kim has risen to new greats in my respect also. This one one of those rare treasures of a book that spoke volumes to both my mind and my heart. It would definitely be in a top 20 book list of mine and may even make it to a top 10. It deserves all 5 of those elephants.

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