Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favourite authors. I have read and re-read the Mars Trilogy, awed by this chap’s visionary tales, loved the ‘Three Californias‘, sniggered at ‘Escape from Kathmandu’, fell in love with the NSF during the ‘Science in Washington‘ trilogy, wanted to live in an Asian utopia in ‘The Years of Rice and Salt‘ and longed to be on Pluto while reading ‘Icehenge‘.
And now I have just finished Galileo’s Dream, and what can I tell you?
It’s a stinker. Absolutely terrible.
Everything that made me a fan of KSR in the past is missing: the carefully researched scientific prose, the utopias that were so well thought out that they were likely to happen very soon, the sociological visions, the heterogenous groups of vastly different protagonists and, of course, communal bathing and a ‘Frank’. Always a Frank.
So, what do we get here? A curmudgeonly Galileo Galilei that gives the reader no chance for empathy or sympathy, as he’s an obvious anthrophobic, lying, scheming egomanic arse. And just because 17th century alone is obviously not sci-fi, Galileo gets whisked away ever so often to the Jovian moons of the 30th century to help out with the issue of newly discovered life in and around Jupiter.
Yup. No kidding.
With other words, KSR has abandoned his legacy as being the one Sci-Fi author you could safely recommend to your friends who until now saw Sci-Fi as for the anorak wearing members of society.