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If I didn't even finish this book, why am I giving it 3 stars? I think much of the problem is in me rather than in the book. I have read other books by Robinson and think he is a good writer, and this book is also well written. So what was the problem? There is not any sympathetic character. Galileo is celebrated in this book as "the first scientist", and I would not disagree. When I was a science teacher, I portrayed him so to my students.... However, he was also a fairly unpleasant person. I had known about many of his less admirable traits before reading this book, but I had not realized that he came from what is now called a dysfunctional home. He had a horrible father and a horrible mother. Unfortunately, he was one of those people who continued the cycle of horribleness rather than breaking free of it. Apparently when he was in a bad mood or drunk (a frequent occurrence), servants and children had to hide from his fists. I already knew about the shameful way he treated his daughters, but I had forgotten some of the details. When I got to the part where he has the servants tie his 12-year-old daughter hand and foot and cart her screaming and crying to the place where she would be imprisoned for the rest of her life, I just couldn't go on any further.
I also had not realized the extent of his terrible health. I have come away from this book with increased sympathy for how much he accomplished in spite of it.
I was further infuriated by pretty much every single Roman Catholic bigwig in the book. The evils of the Inquisition and the corruption in the Catholic Church in those times is widely known, but as one "holy" man after another adds to the torment of Galileo's life, it just got to be too much of a bad thing. I felt myself slipping from my normal laid back atheist position to a strong desire to run out and find a Catholic priest that I could punch in the belly for old times' sake.
So, if you can tolerate a LOT of misery and horribleness inflicted on and by the main character and still enjoy the book, then you may very well find much in this book to recommend it. But if, like me, you need a main character who is simpatico, and a few rays of sunshine to leaven the shadows, you may not like this one. Consider carefully.
p.s. George Guidall, the narrator, does his usual excellent job.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
More a historical novel than science fiction, Galileo's Dream covers the latter half of Galileo's life. While there are some action scenes this is not an action novel. And while there is time travel and alien intelligence, it is more a novel of about Galileo, his scientific ideas, and Vatican politics. If you make it through the twenty hours you will gain a understanding and an affection for this flawed genius. It does go on for too long. It could stand being about a third shorter. But I would recommend it for an entertaining introduction to the life of Galileo Galilee.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful