Galileo’s Dream is a brand new novel from Kim Stanley Robinson and follows Galileo on an amazing journey from the dawn of the modern age to a future on the brink of a scientific breakthrough.
While on the brink of the modern world, Late Renaissance Italy is still surrounded by Alchemy and the teachings of Aristotle. All this is set to change though with Galileo's new telescope, perhaps the first true modern scientist, Galileo is met by a stranger, unsure if this is a dream or not he is given a glimpse of the Blasted Wasteland of Jupiter, but he is not looking at the present planet but Jupiter in 3 thousand years, a world of human settlement.
In this time period the Earth has almost been destroyed by humanity and the vision is from the vantage point of a Jovian moon.
The Strangers are living in 3025AD, somehow able to contact Galileo and call him into resonance with the later time period. The story flips between seventeenth century Italy and the future 3 thousand years later. The novel introduces a spin on the alternate future theory by having a "delta of possible pasts" and there is two factions battling to make their version of the past permanent.
In essence the struggles focal point is actually Galileo's death, if he dies at the stake he becomes a martyr of science over religion, if instead he is condoned by the Church, scientists such as Kepler and Bruno end up taking over science which creates a very different future.
The glimpses of the future in the novel are great, for example the europan sea has intelligent life but there is much debate over whether they should make contact or not which creates much political debate (far in the future and still burdened by politics!).
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. Recommended.
Written by Antony, 01 September 2009.