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Galileo's Dream

Cover of Galileo's Dream

Galileo's Dream

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 travels to the past to bring Galileo forward in an attempt to alter history and ensure the ascendancy of science over religion. And if that means Galileo must be burned at the stake, so be it. From Galileo's heresy trial to the politics of far-future Jupiter, Kim Stanley Robinson illuminates the parallels between a distant past and an even more remote future--in the process celebrating the human spirit and calling into question the convenient truths of our own moment in time.

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 travels to the past to bring Galileo forward in an attempt to alter history and ensure the ascendancy of science over religion. And if that means Galileo must be burned at the stake, so be it. From Galileo's heresy trial to the politics of far-future Jupiter, Kim Stanley Robinson illuminates the parallels between a distant past and an even more remote future--in the process celebrating the human spirit and calling into question the convenient truths of our own moment in time.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One The Stranger All of a sudden Galileo felt that this moment had happened before--that he had been standing in the artisans' Friday market outside Venice's Arsenale and had felt someone's gaze on him, and looked up to see a man staring at him, a tall stranger with a beaky narrow face. As before (but what before?) the stranger acknowledged Galileo's gaze with a lift of the chin, then walked toward him through the market, threading through the crowded blankets and tables and stalls spread all over the Campiello del Malvasia. The sense of repetition was strong enough to make Galileo a little dizzy, although a part of his mind was also detached enough to wonder how it might be that you could sense someone's gaze resting on you.

    The stranger came up to Galileo, stopped and bowed stiffly, then held out his right hand. Galileo bowed in return, took the offered hand, and squeezed; it was narrow and long, like the man's face.

    In guttural Latin, very strangely accented, the stranger croaked, "Are you Domino Signor Galileo Galilei, professor of mathematics at the University of Padua?"

    "I am. Who are you?"

    The man let go of his hand. "I am a colleague of Johannes Kepler. He and I recently examined one of your very useful military compasses."

    "I am glad to hear it," Galileo said, surprised. "I have corresponded with Signor Kepler, as he probably told you, but he did not write to me about this. When and where did you meet him?"

    "Last year, in Prague."

    Galileo nodded. Kepler's places of residence had shifted through the years in ways Galileo had not tried to keep track of. In fact he had not answered Kepler's last letter, having failed to get through the book that had accompanied it. "And where are you from?"

    "Northern Europe."

    Alta Europa. The man's Latin was really quite strange, unlike other transalpine versions Galileo had heard. He examined the man more closely, noted his extreme height and thinness, his stoop, his intent close-set eyes. He would have had a heavy beard, but he was very finely shaved. His expensive dark jacket and cloak were so clean they looked new. The hoarse voice, beaky nose, narrow face, and black hair made him seem like a crow turned into a man. Again Galileo felt the uncanny sensation that this meeting had happened before. A crow talking to a bear--

    "What city, what country?" Galileo persisted.

    "Echion Linea. Near Morvran."

    "I don't know those towns."

    "I travel extensively." The man's gaze was fixed on Galileo as if on his first meal in a week. "Most recently I was in the Netherlands, and there I saw an instrument that made me think of you, because of your compass, which, as I said, Kepler showed me. This Dutch device was a kind of looking glass."

    "A mirror?"

    "No. A glass to look through. Or rather, a tube you look at things through, with a glass lens at each end. It makes things look bigger."

    "Like a jeweler's lens?"

    "Yes."

    "Those only work for things that are close."

    "This one worked for things that were far away."

    "How could that be?"

    The man shrugged.

    This was interesting. "Perhaps it was because there were two lenses," Galileo said. "Were they convex or concave?"

    The man almost spoke, hesitated, then shrugged again. His stare went almost cross-eyed. His eyes were brown, flecked with green and yellow splashes, like Venice's canals near sunset. Finally he said, "I don't know."

    Galileo found this unimpressive. "Do you have one of these tubes?"

    "Not with me."

    "But you have one?"

    "Not of that type. But yes."

    "And so you thought to tell me about it."

    "Yes. Because of...

About the Author-
  • Kim Stanley Robinson is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He is the author of nineteen previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting, The Years of Rice and Salt, and Antarctica. In 2008 he was named a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine, and he recently joined in the Sequoia Parks Foundation's Artists in the Back Country program. He lives in Davis, California.

    From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 30, 2009
    The creative imagination of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus–winner Robinson (The Years of Rice and Salt
    ) is on display in this offbeat novel of scientific discovery. In 1609, a stranger tells Galileo Galilei about a recent Dutch device that magnifies distant objects. The Italian scientist develops his own version, and the success of his telescope brings him recognition and acclaim. Forty pages in, the book changes genres abruptly as the stranger brings Galileo to Europa, the second moon of Jupiter, in a far future where various factions quarrel over plans to colonize the distant sphere. During the course of several trips through time and space, Galileo becomes something of a pawn in the political conflicts while gaining treasured glimpses of the future of science. Readers will eagerly share Galileo's curiosity and astonishment at the wonders of both the past and the future.

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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Kim Stanley Robinson
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