Galileo’s Defiance and Destiny in an Imagined Science Fiction Novel #scifi #historical #alternative #history

Galileo's Dream scifi novelThis science fiction novel is heavy on historical fiction. I knew the outline of Galileo’s story – his breakthrough studies of the moons of Jupiter, endorsement of the then-radical theory that the planets orbit around the sun, and his condemnation by the Catholic Church. Kim Stanley Robinson provides a richly detailed portrayal of his life – his illnesses, peccadillos, endless family and money troubles, political machinations among the city-states of Italy, and conflict with the Church.

I hope Robinson (a king of hard scifi) did his usual-thorough research because his vision of Galileo will stay with me. I think so – he even included translations of Galileo’s actual writings.

Galileo was a genius, but not a very pleasant man to be around. His life ends as it did in reality – which isn’t Robinson’s fault – but he fully delivers the sadness and misery.

Science fiction enters when colonists on Jupiter’s moons

Galileo's first telescope - a reproduction of the optics

My own reproduction of Galileo’s first telescope – it’s amazing he saw anything

repeatedly snatch Galileo into their future.
Some factions want to change their present by changing how his life turns out, while other factions want to keep things the same. There are enchanting visions of Jupiter and its moons, and what technology might be like there in the distant future, but the Jovians’ story was unsatisfying. The relationships among the colonists were confusing and their story didn’t resolve very well.

I didn’t like this book as much as Amazon reviewers, who averaged 4 out of 5 stars. There was a lot of repetition in both Galileo’s and the Jovian’s stories. I skimmed through most of the book. I didn’t know who the narrator was until the end, though an occasional lapse from 3rd person to 1st person made me realize it wasn’t any of the main characters. That made the story a bit distant from Galileo at times, with the narrator sometimes knowing more than Galileo and sometimes less.

Don’t expect an easy, flowing read, but if you enjoy Robinson and history, give the book a try.

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Absolutely Free Collection Short Science Fiction/ Fantasy limited time so this is your chance #shortstory #free #flashfiction #bookworm

jupiter-diving-web-ebook-24feb2017-267x400From a ship mining helium-3 in Jupiter’s atmosphere, Kelly launches a probe to search for life in the ocean of a Jovian moon. In the title story, Jupiter Diving, she finds more than she expected. If you missed out on ebook week earlier in the month, here’s another chance. I’m about to offer Jupiter Diving and other Short Reads on Amazon but you can download an advance copy for free.

Visit colorful and dangerous worlds in short stories and flash fiction. From an angel’s photo op on Mars, to the agony of a berserker warrior, a tiny craft’s interstellar mission, and an astronaut’s cries for help, you’ll find many new tales plus opening chapters and vignettes from my On Mars series, the multi-generational story of the first colony on Mars. Plus a few pieces of microfiction too 🙂

Perfect to fill a break in your day or an afternoon curled up in your favorite chair.

I’m going to offer the ebook on Kindle Select (I never used that outlet before but it’s supposed to be a good idea) but you can grab your free copy now. Sign up before March 31st to receive your book in April, before I let Amazon get its hands on it. Hurry – limited time offer.

You’ll receive a coupon code to download the book in your choice of formats, and to receive an occasional email from me with offers, a piece of flash fiction, and news about my writing projects. No spam and you can unsubscribe any time.

The code goes out April 1st (no fooling) so sign up before you forget and download your free book of short reads. I hope you’ll enjoy 🙂

#Wormhole_Adventure With a Twist in This #ScienceFictionBook

Fold

I don’t like the cover much – but since I picked it up I guess it worked.

I tore through 340 pages in two days and stayed up past my bedtime. The main character, Mike, has a rare eidetic memory – he notices and remembers an amazing amount of detail about everything. Since the book is mostly from his point of view, Clines writes all that detail down. An eidetic memory is annoying at times.

At first, I was worried I needed to remember all that detail, too, but not so – Clines reminded me of anything I really needed to enjoy the story.

Mike – protagonist
I loved the vision Mike has of his own mind as swarms of black ants and red ants carrying bright bits of memories and thoughts, arranging them, seeking patterns, and drawing conclusions. Since Mike is also off-the-scale high IQ, he doesn’t simply remember – his ants figure things out. His mind exists and functions outside his core notion of who he is, and feels very real.

Premise
His job, for a lifetime friend who manages projects for DARPA, is to find out what’s going on at a top secret project. Once you accept that the American government would agree to allow scientists they fund to keep everything a secret from them – everything except the claim that “it works” – the story is off.

At first the technology seems to be generating a wormhole SciFi readers will recognize. A pair of devices, drawing enormous electrical power, transports people between them instantaneously. But there’s a wonderful twist that fits well with real-world hypotheses in physics – at least, as far as I can tell from the popular media.

Story’s opening
The book opens with a government agent returning home from a business trip, apparently psychotic. The two characters in that chapter never appear again. It’s the kind of exciting opening considered vital to hooking readers.

The story begins in Chapter Two where we meet Mike. The significance of that first chapter does tie into the story in about twenty pages. Great. I hate teases that hang out there forever.

What the story offers
Every story’s “gotta have” a love interest. In this story, the love interest actually relates to the plot and allows Mike to discover something important. Nicely done.

There are references to popular culture – for example, to Harry Potter and Star Trek. One character looks like Bogart in Casablanca. Some of this is used to reveal the plot – I won’t write any spoilers. But even if you’re not a Trekkie, I think the way it’s presented will work.

The story builds slowly at first – Mike finds things that are odd and unsettling.
About a third of the way through there’s a gruesome incident. In the second half, the situation grows increasingly fantastic. The origin of the technology is a bit hard to swallow, and the story leaves science behind.

There’s one nitpick that nagged me. Clines has something happen regarding liquid nitrogen – in the “real” portion of his world – that I don’t think could. He mentions it a few times, so I actually stopped reading to look it up on the Internet. But I kept reading because… what the heck. It’s a fun story about an engaging character.

What’s not to like?
People on Amazon who rated The Fold below 4 stars found the eidetic memory annoying after a while or thought the build-up was more fun than the conclusion of the book. Some felt the “superman” intelligence of Mike should have figured out what was going on sooner.

I haven’t read Clines’ other books, but apparently the ending of The Fold is similar to the ending of another book.

Oddly enough, since readers supposedly love action, some reviewers preferred the build up to the action-packed conclusion, even saying the ending felt like a different story.

But 80% love it…
And me, too. It’s a fun read, great for a vacation or a plane trip. If you start it on a weeknight you may be tired at work the next day, because you’ll stay up way too late reading.