Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
on 9 June 2011
Kim Stanley Robinson is an absolutely fantastic novelist.
This book is a very unusual combination of historical fiction and science fiction.
If it comprised only the 17th Century Galileo story, it would stand as an absolutely first-rate historical novel in its own right.
This writing is subtle, funny, and in places very moving, especially in the way he depicts the wasted potential of so many of the people who lived in that time. You get a powerful sense that these were people just like us, with the very same needs, desires and weaknesses.
By combining this with a time-travel SF strand, he risks cheapening the achievement of the historical strand. And at first it seems like he has done just that. Initially the 30th Century seems thinly imagined and the story of what happens there quite frivolous.
But as it develops, this strand gains weight and momentum.
Ultimately, the two strands combine into a beautiful whole.
This book is so good that I did not want to end. I felt a little bereft when it did.