Sunday, April 18, 2010

When to give up on a book.

My son and I both gave up on Galileo's Dream a few days ago. We each really tried to like it, and in fact did like very much the historical aspect of the book. As I wrote last week he brings Galileo, warts and all, to life. But the sci-fi part of the book -- not so much. The characters of the future sci-fi world are one dimensional, not very likable, and their motivation, their reason for intruding into the book, is very unclear. They were so patronizing to Galileo -- I didn't want them to have any influence on him or his work. If that wasn't bad enough, the sci-fi story completely "jumped the shark" into silly and unbelievable territory.

And yet Kim Stanley Robinson is such a good writer that we both kept thinking there had to be something more to the book, something that we just weren't getting. It made us feel dense, as if we were too stupid to see the profound message buried in the story. I finally started reading published reviews of the book, looking to see what exactly we were missing, but it seems the book has many people scratching their heads. The reviewers who did like it didn't convince me that reading to the bitter end would be earth shattering and worth while.

So, we put it down. I'm intrigued with his writing enough that I'd like to try another of his novels. The premise for The Years of Rice and Salt intrigues me, and I'd be reading it this weekend but the copy in my library is missing a huge chunk of pages.

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