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Galileo's Dream

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  2,123 Ratings  ·  310 Reviews
At the heart of a provocative narrative that stretches from Renaissance Italy to the moons of Jupiter is the father of modern science: Galileo Galilei.

To the inhabitants of the Jovian moons, Galileo is a revered figure whose actions will influence the subsequent history of the human race. From the summit of their distant future, a charismatic renegade named Ganymede travel
Kindle Edition, 546 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
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Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I wonder if this project started off as an attempt at a straight fictional biography, like Doctor Mirabilis which is also about a scientist who falls foul of the Catholic Church? Hard to say, but it stands as a science fiction story in which Galileo is contacted by humans from the distant future who want him to help with a problem they are having on Europa...

So there are two stories, one about Galileo's life from the start of his work on telescopes up to his death and another about dreams of Eur
Brendon Schrodinger
Cross-posted on my blog, The Periodic Table of Elephants.

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% biogr
Apr 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
All right, I can't stand it anymore. I still have 80 pages to go, but I honestly don't care about any of the characters, and can't bring myself to slog through the rest of the book, book club or no. This has got to be the worst story I've ever read that was written by a purportedly professional author. It's infected with some of the most hideous bloat I've ever seen-- cutting out about 200 pages of nonsense would probably improve it. The "historical" parts are like a biography of Galileo tweaked ...more
M.G. Mason
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This latest novel from Kim Stanley Robinson is at once both identifiable as Robinson's unique brand of philosophical science fiction and a departure from his work. In some ways it feels more like a homage to the early works of the likes of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.

It starts as a simple biography of the first true scientist as he first observes and then shows others the miracles he can observe through his telescope. But one night a mysterious stranger asks Galileo to take a look at his device.
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of big ideas and sweeping vistas, historical minutiae... good old-fashioned SF
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
Eppur si muove, come la Terra mi emoziona.

Time travel fiction is, at its heart, primarily a literature of regret. Oh, there is the occasional pure travelogue, to be sure; the odd parody played for laughs; and the even rarer voyage of self-discovery... but for the most part, why send some hapless schmuck through time at all, but for the opportunity to step twice into Heraclitus' river, to redirect its flow—to change those things that might not have to have been?

And, usually, to find out that alte
Ben Babcock
There is a theory that views all of history as the result of actions by individuals at pivotal moments. These "Great Men" (or, let's be fair, "Great People") are the movers and shakers of historical periods. Leaders like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Elizabeth II, and Napoleon Bonaparte shaped society. Scientists like Sir Francis Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, and yes, Galileo Galilei shaped our perception of the world. These are the people whose mark lasts long on history, or so we think. I do ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is an epitome of the depths that modern science fiction plumbs. In this instance, fiction is actually less entertaining than fact.Anyone interested in the life of Galileo would serve themselves better with a work such as Dan Hofstadterś The Earth Moves, which is not only more accurate than this but considerably better written and a better read by about 10 dB. If one is interested in physics then I would suggest a good textbook, such as any of Halliday and Resnicks books, all of which are be ...more
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Publisher's Blurb (courtesy of Harper Voyager): Late Renaissance Italy abounds in alchemy and Aristotle, yet it trembles on the brink of the modern world. Galileo's new telescope encapsulates all the contradictions of this emerging reality. Then one night a stranger presents a different type of telescope for Galileo to peer through, enabling him to see the world of humans three thousand years hence. Galileo will soon find himself straddling two worlds, the medieval and the modern. By day his lif ...more
I had mixed feelings about this book - largely because of expectations I'd developed reading previous KSR books.

Without revealing anything critical about the plot, KSR has come up with a mechanism by which he exposes his readers to Galileo Galilei's life in the 17th century while periodically pulling us forward to a time in roughly the 31st century.

I found KSR's take on the 17th century Galileo to be engaging and thought provoking in unexpected ways. I've been strongly affected by previous KSR
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: spotted on Cassiel's profile - looks interesting
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am fascinated by Kim Stanley Robinson (or KSR, as many of his fans seem to refer to him). He's a leftist. He writes (for me) more accessible science fiction than China Miéville, who is, however, much more explicitly socialist than Robinson. He's local-ish -- resident in Davis, CA. I just missed hearing him at a Writers With Drinks salon/bar evening, a couple of years ago. I like what he writes about -- future possibilities that extend really existing science much more than most sci fi, and tha ...more
I really wasn't sure about reading this as I found the only other KSR "alternate history" book (Years of Rice and Salt) that I'd read not to be particularly enthralling. However, I'm glad I took a chance on this and got it out of the library.

I didn't know all that much about Galileo Galilei before reading the book, but KSR uses passages from GG's writings and also from those in church records and correspondence about him. These really give a flavour of GG as a man of his time, but also someone w
Mar 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a bloated disaster. As somebody who is fascinated by the development of natural philosophy in the 17th century (albeit as an enthusiastic amateur), I found Robinson's contempt for historical context almost as offensive as his view of ideal science as a mixture of bloodless phenomena-saving and new age spiritual pap. Here he is explaining Galileo's approach to his Two New Sciences:

Whereas on the other hand, with these simple propositions about motion, force, friction and strength, he
David Hebblethwaite
This may turn out to be less of a review of a book than a ‘working-through’ of one, because I’m well aware that I haven’t grasped everything that Galileo’s Dream is trying to do, and so can’t appreciate it as much as I would have liked. But I’d like to set down my thoughts all the same.

It would be quite easy, I think, to describe this novel in a way that sounds like a bad movie pitch: Galileo receives visitors from the future, who take him back (forward!) to their time in an attempt to stave off
Dans ce roman, l'auteur nous raconte les quarante dernières années de la vie de Galilée, depuis l'invention de sa lunette astronomique jusqu'à sa mort, en y incluant évidement ses combats avec l'Eglise romaine. Il y inclut également autre chose, nettement plus étrange en fait, les visites que Galilée aurait rendu à des habitants des anneaux de Jupiter y vivant en l'an 3000 ... Bizarre, non ? Le but de cette confrontation avec l'avenir étant évidement de décaler ce savant, c'est-à-dire de le conf ...more
Jason Golomb
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
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Okay, I'm a fan of Kim Stanley Robinson. I've enjoyed the Mars books (though I only read the first two of the trilogy) and really liked the novel Antarctica. I read another recently, an older sci-fi novel, that I didn't much care for. I thought Galileo's Dream looked really interesting when it was first published, and it was. It's a bit long, as Robinson's books often are, but it held my interest very well throughout. I have to say I liked the historical fiction portions of the book --Galileo's ...more
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in history and physics
Shelves: historical-novel
I might rate this somewhere between 3 & 4

I have really enjoyed immersing myself in this novel about the mathematician and scientist, Galileo, I spent some time reading it, because as I read I wanted to compare the novel to the real life of Galileo, who I researched on line, also because much of it covered studies of physics and astronomy, of which I am very ignorant.

The problems between science and religion were a large part of Galileo's life, since he lived during the Roman Catholic Inquisi
Ian Mitchell
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it are great, while others are weak; I could have just as easily given it 3 stars as 4.

The novel essentially combines 2 stories; one is historical fiction about the life of Galileo, while the other involves him being brought into the far future and interacting with inhabitants of the moons of Jupiter.

The "historical" story is mostly well done, though there are a few stretches that read more like a history book than a novel. I got a little tired of
Was a mess. This book didn't know what it wanted to be. A historic fiction? A scifi? I was intrigued by how the author would blend these two seemingly disparate genres together. The answer is, he does a poor job of it. The history parts read like a boring textbook with confusing POVs. (Suddenly switching to first person unknown narrator when you thought you were getting limited third person POV). The scifi parts were confusing and convoluted. It was too much philosophy without enough substance, ...more
Jake Forbes
A quirky mixture of biography, secret history, allegory and hard science fiction that doesn't quite rise. At the book's heart -- the uneasy relationship and sometimes war between science and religion. An occasional fictional narrator steps in, but most of the time, Galileo is both our the lens by which we observe this conflict (Galileo the Scientist) as well as the variable in a grand experiment (Galileo the Symbol). There is also an attempt to cast Galileo as patient of psychoanalysis (Galileo ...more
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...The author took a chance by adding the Jovian story line and I don't think it quite worked like Robinson intended. It's interesting it its own way but it cannot balance to absolutely brilliant historical part of the novel. Despite that, I enjoyed reading this book an awful lot. Galileo's Dream is a novel with several layers, historical element was absolutely outstanding to me but there are also some very interesting scientific, philosophical and religious elements to the book. It is a book th ...more
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an odd book - part historical fiction, part science fiction, all Kim Stanley Robinson. I'm becoming a big fan of Kim Stanley Robinson these days. This isn't one of his best, but a mediocre KSR book is still pretty good. The negatives: things don't always come together the way Robinson seemed to have intended, and sometimes the plot drags on under the weight of seemingly-unimportant details (obviously KSR did a lot of research and couldn't resist putting it all in the book). The positives ...more
Diego González
I can only recommend this book to the die hard KSR fan. It is a neat idea forced to extend itself beyond its capabilities.
An interesting mix of historic fiction and sci-fi, the plot springs from the fact that Galileo suffered "syncopes", or unconscious periods, possibly due to epilepsy. Robinson has Galileo travel far into the future to both see what he has wrought, so to speak, and to argue for the value of science to the people he encounters.
Sadly, the pieces do not hang together well, and th
Fred Hughes
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kim Stanley Robinson writes what I like to call humanistic science fiction. All this characters are highly developed within his books and the storys just revolve around these fully developed characters.

This book is a delightfull combination of Galileo in the 17th century and the far future. A creature from the future has become anamoured with Galileo and wants to share the future with him. Unfortunately as Galileo was known to down a bottle or two of wine he doesn't know whether he is dreaming o
Azim Azidin
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its great to see that the author tries to relive and imagine how Galileo lives in his time. Combined with some intervention from the future.

One can learn a bit of history, and see how it affects the current world.
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb book by a superb author. KSR weds a brilliant historical fiction (re the life and mind of Galileo Galilee) to a compelling science fiction (re humanity's future place in the cosmos) to fashion an enormously engaging cautionary tale about the interplay among science, religion, human nature, and the environment (broadly construed). It's a beautiful piece of writing and, in places, a deeply affecting one (in particular the story line re Galileo's relationship with his daughter Maria Celeste) ...more
John Mh
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took me a minute to pull me in, but it was worth the patience it took. Very much reminded me of an Umberto Eco rather than a Kim Stanley Robinson novel by the time I finished, and I mean that a way complimentary to both authors. I'm guessing that some fans of Robinson's "harder" sci-fi will not enjoy this one as much as others, but what a wonderful, funny, ultimately engrossing exploration of Galileo the Man--the stunted, crabby, defecating, brilliant man.
Alan Zendell
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is both a literary masterpiece deifying the world's first scientist and a thinly conceived quantum mechanical mish-mash for the purpose of providing a backdrop of alternate timestreams. For me it was reminiscent of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in which Galileo is allowed to see glimpses of his past and several alternate futures. But, the unnecessary romp into advanced physics aside, it's a great read. Galileo comes to life in all his arrogant brilliance.
Daniel Burton-Rose
I'm enough of a fan of Robinson to check out whatever he writes, despite, in this case, a strong aversion to space- and time-travel. Not surprisingly, I found the historical chapters compelling, but the vision of the future--in which tall white people wearing blue pantaloons have prolonged philosophical discussions--somethings of a '70s B-movie throwback.
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Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer, probably best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy.

His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the 15 years of research and lifelong fascination with Mars which culminated in his most famous work. He has, due to his
More about Kim Stanley Robinson...

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“We all have secret lives. The life of excretion; the world of inappropriate sexual fantasies; our real hopes, our terror of death; our experience of shame; the world of pain; and our dreams. No one else knows these lives. Consciousness is solitary. Each person lives in that bubble universe that rests under the skull, alone.” 35 likes
“And so sometimes when you feel strange, when a pang tugs at your heart or it seems like the moment has already happened- or when you look up in the sky and are surprised at the sight of bright Jupiter between clouds, and everything suddenly seems stuffed with a vast significance-consider that some other person somewhere is entangled with you in time, and is trying to give some push to the situation, some little help to make things better. Then put your shoulder to whatever wheel you have at hand, whatever moment you're in, and push too! Push like Galileo pushed! And together we may crab sideways toward the good.” 9 likes
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