There are 3 things that I really enjoy reading: science fiction, science and history. Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest novel, Galileo’s Dream is a terrific fusion of all three. It took me a longer than usual time to read this book, which I started in late December. But despite the interruptions, I kept coming back to the book because it intrigued me. It is a fascinating, fictionalized look at Galileo’s life, and his struggle with the Catholic Church, a struggle which in some ways parallels the struggle taking place in the future with a newly discovered intelligence on the moons of Jupiter.
The novel has something for everyone: time travel, historical fiction, space ships, far future societies, first contact, high technology. But the main thrust of it centers around Galileo’s life in Italy, his friends and family, and his evolution as the “first scientist”. Interestingly, the copyright page on the Kindle edition calls the book a “work of historical fiction”. Indeed, but both past and future history must be included in that broad categorization.
This is not the fun type of time-travel novel as say, Jack McDevitt’s Time Travelers Never Die or Joe Haldeman’s The Accidental Time Machine. It is a thoughtful, philosophical novel that uses time travel in much the same manner as H.G. Wells in The Time Machine–to reflect on the past and explore the possible places we are going.
It’s an enjoyable read for anyone who likes science fiction, and the history of science. 3-1/2 stars. ( )