The following reviews were published on either Sacramento Book Review monthly journal or posted on Sacramento Book Review.com or San Francisco Book Review.com
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Amazon.com Title: Walking Amidst the Cosmos.
Galileo encounters a stranger, who introduces him to a glass apparatus that he later uses to fashion into a telescope. The stranger brings him to the future, where he walks the surface of Jupiter’s moons and finds himself involved in a complex development. In the past, Galileo struggles with superstitions and religious beliefs. Confounded by it all, he faces his own demise for his beliefs. Robinson shows the real Galileo with all his faults and limitations and how he deals them.
Galileo’s Dream has been referred to as a cross genre novel—part science fiction, part history. This is nothing new. In the last 20 years, many novels have begun to share genres with science fiction. Among them, Sign of the Anasazi, You’ve Got Murder, both sci-fi mysteries, etcetera, have appeared. The Da Vinci Code is an historical fiction. Although no one argues with that, a good argument can be made for the entertainment angle. It is intriguing.
For science enthusiasts, it is a revelation of the great Galileo, but for those who long for science fiction, 544 pages remains a little daunting. Still, Robinson delivers extraordinary insight with excavating detail. If you have the time, it’s worth the read.
by Joe Haldeman
Starbound, the second of a trilogy, is based on a desperate attempt to confront the aliens called Other on a distant world since they nearly destroyed Earth in the first book. After a 6 ½ year trek across the cosmos, they return home to find that they emerge 50 years in the future. This second book sets the stage for the third with the build up of the human arsenal to combat the omnipotent Other.
This book is written in the spirit of old-fashion science fiction, except that the plot is a little stilted. The novel, aside from suffering weak characterization, is broken up in an odd way, making it rather trying to keep up with the passage of time and who did what. Overlooking these, the pace does move the story along and the reader feels rewarded with a fresh perspective on the bigger picture.
Joe Haldeman shows promise as a top science fiction writer even though Starbound is not his best. Since this book does entertain, what it lacks in depth is made up for with what it delivers in pace. While it struggles to make the 100 best list, I do recommend it as a fast read.