The bodies being those of Galileo, Kepler, Tycho and Co. They all went close to being destroyed by their own exceptional theories, especially the Tuscan genius.
Galileo explores the skies in a way no one had done before and propounds a radical reorganisation of the cosmos in consequence, defends himself from the accusations by the Church that his view contravenes Scriptures but is condemned all the same, and forced to abjure, returning finally in old age to publish a work (Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
; see also The Essential Galileo
) that will not only set mechanics on a new path, but will transform the very way in which the deeper knowledge of nature is to be found.
This first installment in a trilogy of novels by astronomer Stuart Clark (the other two will concentrate on Newton and Einstein respectively), although simple in its narrative structure, brings to life the above characters in a vivid and dramatic way, focusing especially on Galileo and Kepler (for the latter, cf. Harmonies of the World
), and their cosmic discoveries. These are fantastic stories, and the author makes full use of them, drawing on extensive research, relying on imagination to fill any gaps and, as he said himself in an interview, making "the colours a little bit brighter and the shadows a bit darker."
While not all readers will agree with Clark's approach, this first volume is certainly packed with colour and historical detail: there's intrigue, scandal, rivalry and back-stabbing, political and religious conflict, all of it true.
Funny (well, sort of) how the Church awaited 5 centuries before changing its position on Galileo: on 31 October 1992, Pope John Paul II expressed regret for how the Galileo affair was handled, and issued a declaration acknowledging the errors committed by the Catholic Church tribunal that judged the scientific positions of Galileo Galilei. Better late than never...
By the way, the book is stamped with the "approval" of the Science Museum/NMSI Enterprises: so, no scientific falsehoods there!