A really excellent book which I heard randomly through a gaming blog recently I m a bit sad that I d of randomly a gaming blog recently I m a bit sad that I d heard of this book before though I wonder if I would have appreciated it as much if I d read it early though perhaps of the issue is that it demonstrates how much stuff is out there that I would probably really like but which I won t hear of I really like the basic premise of this story and I feel like the author does a good job of conveying the fact that the world operates according to very distinct laws of physics from our WORLD AN INTERESTING POINT FROM THIS IS I REALIZED An interesting point from this is I realized although the Greeks are often credited with developing the beginning of science and rational inuiry into the world they were not good scientists since most of the major theories came from idealized beliefs about things and not from accurate observation of actual phenomenon I also really like the way the gods are incorporated into society in the book I think with modern culture the gods are filtered too much through the lenses of monotheism and rationalism and so the depiction of gods in most fantasy writing feels a bit stiff Here we have a depiction of religion that takes the source material seriously and is reflective of how believers might actually describe their experiences The end is also well done mostly I like that having realized the war is pointless they don t try to force a sudden resolution of hostilities but rather plant the seeds that may lead to reconciliation down the line But the literal end of the story the final lines are annoyingly abrupt and somewhat ambiguous Up until the end the gods were only present in subjective experiences and I assumed that the characters invoked the gods as a sort of metaphor for states of mind and flashes of insight and such with a commonality of experience resulting from the characters using the same stories to describe and understand their experiences So it is an unwelcome intrusion at the end when the narrator is suddenly taken up to appear before the gods is it some weird metaphor for him dieing of stress and reflecting on his life or are the gods literally real It is just a small bit at the end and the beginning sort of so it doesn t ruin an otherwise very good book but I would have like a better ending Give the author a marginal amount of credit for attempting to be creative That one positive said all else is bad about this book I presume the author must have believed his audience would have zero familiarity with ancient Greece and zero nowledge of logic as it pertains to science Early on at that point where the author ascribes modern American weights and measures to the Greek empire dependent on ancient beliefs it was a matter of attempting to reign in the gag reflex rather than trying to fathom any pleasure from this horrible tome Probably skipped about 100 pages in total and without ever reading the ending I really don t feel like I missed anything The juvenile writing style was a major detraction along with the thorough inanity of the story line itself A simplistic writing style poorly suited to obtuse content For example in describing the no longer operational guns of the ship they jutted defiantly upward what A cristalli liquidi (Italian Edition) kind of phrasing is that Gag When naming the heroes of Greece why are they all from a period over a thousand years ago Hmmm what does that tell us about the story And the chief protagonist the captain One would naturally think that one of the two most powerful nations on earth would make some attempt at selecting a person in such an important position who actually had somenowledge of what they were about and someone who would exhibit some sort of emotional balance However the summary phrase that leapt to my mind was a solid portrayal of a blind one legged strutting peacock arbitrarily driven by the whim of nonexistent gods Gag again Not sure it can get much worse than this True rating 0 As every great best science fiction book Celestial Matters is not just science fiction for the sake of itself Scientific fiction or uite literally in this case fictional science is a means to point out some otherwise poorly considered themes of our ordinary world a strategy to devise mental experiments which thanks to their anomalous appearence draw the readers attention on specific topicsThe main focus of Celestial Matters thus is not What if Aristotelian Physics was true which is of course uite an amazing starting point nonetheless but Is it true that there s only one correct viewpoint to explain facts or even amb. In the world of Celestial Matters Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian physics are valid scientific models of the surrounding world and cosmos The Earth lies at the center of the universe surrounded by crystal spheres which hold each of the planets the sun and the moon all enclosed in the sphere of the fixed stars Earthly matter composed of the classical four elements of earth air fire and water naturally moves in straight lines Heavenly matter naturally rises and moves in circles This is the universe as understood by the ancient GreeksThe science of the ancient Chinese also applies but as the novel is told fr.
Richard Garfinkle Ñ 6 Free readErally still the most important part of a for me this
Was A DisappointmentAlso Interestinga disappointmentAlso interesting integration of gods and celestial science Another I appreciated was the lack of an authorial or character centric opinion of which belief or philosophy Greek or Tao was supposed to be judged correct by the reader The two traditions seem to be given eual validityOn the topic of Phan and Middle Kingdom characters in general I think the author did a good job of portraying them as characters in their own right instead of as stereotypes also that they weren t depicted as clearly in the wrong but that both sides had historical and cultural precedent for their behavior and beliefs My opinion of Persia via Mihradarius isn t as well formed but I mention it because of the part he played in the mystery This is a book I always wanted to exist without realizing it I am so glad someone wrote it in real life A fascinating and very well executed novel of alternate science It s set in a world in which what Aristotle posited about the nature of the world four elements rotating geocentric celestial spheres four humour based medicine etc are actually true Mostly More on this Further it s a novel of alternate history for which the point of divergence appears to be that the Peloponnesian War never occurred Rather Athens and Sparta united in the Delian League and eclipsed Macedonia culturally and militarily Alexander as a League general instead of a deified emperor lived until old age His tutor Aristotle used his science to create new weapons of war that led to an old age His tutor Aristotle used his science to create new weapons of war that led to an larger and much durable Hellenic empireIn the time of the novel s setting the world is essentially divided in a forever war between the Greek Delian League and the Chinese Middle Kingdom with the battle lines in Tibet and central North America The time period is never uite specified it s said Alexander s empire has lasted a thousand years which would put it about 700 AD but the feel of the setting with motorized ships and space travel is 20th Century The needs of the great war have led to accelerated science but atrophied culture with philosophy and history both low prestige disciplinesI ve talked mostly about the setting rather than the plot but honestly the setting is the reason to read the book It s a clever conceit that s executed well with a first person narration that drops you into the deep end of an unfamiliar world but doles out details on its rules in a steady fashion as the book goes on This includes not just science but culture as the characters of the book hold to ancient Greek traditions the Olympic pantheon funeral games inspiration from the muses a Spartan sense of honor and a huge classical influence on the ideals of heroismMy biggest ualm with the book is the way its final act developed which stepped into the realm of world saving world shaking heroism The too neat conclusion was justified by a little divine intervention though I suppose one could argue that is itself authentic to the material s inspiration Regardless it felt a little narratively implausible I d have felt it to be earned if the novel s conclusion had been the end of a trilogy that started on a very grounded level and only gradually raised the stakesI was also left with uestions about the world Though by the end I understood the Aristotelian physics undergirding the universe rather well in a confusing twist the Taoist model of the universe ALSO turns out to be true The novel never really explains how two contradictory models of reality can be true at the same time the narrator and protagonist figures it out but doesn t actually tell us what he s figured out Given that the author thought out the implications of both physics models with great care that suggests he didn t uite suare that circle eitherBut altogether it was an enjoyable read at least for someone like me who is vaguely familiar with Aristotle A lover of speculative fiction with no background might still enjoy the story I can t say how that experience would be different or the experience of someone who s actually an expert in Aristotelian or Taoist physics The writing style seemed accessible though I m not particularly picky on that matter particularly well done seemed to be the narrator s habit of periodically expressing regret for not noticing something important foreshadowing future developments without giving it away I can t review this objectively because my husband wrote it I think it s brilliant naturally but better check some other people s reviews. E Their technologies are locked together however and neither empire can gain the upper hand Each side secretly despairs of its chances and has come to consider desperate measuresThe story is narrated by Aias of Tyre a scientist of the Delian League who is preparing to embark on Project Sunthief as scientific commander This project is an audacious and desperate mission to sail a spaceship carved out of a piece of the moon herself out through the spheres to catch a piece of the sun and bring it back to earth to annihilate the Middler capital city This the league hopes will finally end the war and give it victory. Itiously Can two mutually exclusive worldviews be both valid
AT THE SAME TIMEGARFINKLE S DETAILED ANALYSIS OF FICTIONALthe same timeGarfinkle s detailed analysis of fictional and Taoist science technology and cosmology and concurrently of Athenian Spartan and Han aka Middler ethos would spark the shadow of doubt even in the mind of the most inflexible flagbearers of objectivity and pense uniue The importance of history is another ey theme which Garfinkle hides between the lines the protagonist lives in a world where the study of history theme which Garfinkle hides between the lines the protagonist lives in a world where the study of history deeply neglected by hard science dominated academia and it s only by his contrariant interest for the discipline and his personal connection with the muse Kleo that he manages to salvage and otherwise doomed space missionA brilliant and amusing book which would serve perfectly as a light but worthy literary companion for college physics courses Commander Aias of the Celestial Ship Chandra s Tear is charged with heading up operation Sunthief using a ship to steal a piece of the sun and drop it on the capital city of the Middle Kingdom the enemy of the Delian LeagueThis is one of those books that s hard to classify Can something be classified as hard sf if the science in uestion is that of the ancient Greeks and eually ancient Chinese That s right Celestial matters is part hard sf part alternate history The Delia League is a Greek Empire founded on the spurious science of the ancient Greeks which works in this universe Spontaneous Generation farms are used to create animals Space is full of air The humors govern the health of the body The Delian League is at war with the Middle Kingdom which is an eually large empire built upon Taoist scienceAs you can tell the world behind Celestial Matters is a very interesting one once you wrap your head around the science That being said while the story is good the writing drags It took me about seventy pages to be fully invested in the book It s not a light read and the science takes a bit of getting used toStill I recommend this to alternate history fans who are into the ridiculous and magical science of 2000 years agoI m floating this because it reminds me of the book I m currently reading uintessence I loved the way the author took early ideas on science and physics and created working technology around them Describes a world in which Aristotelian Physics are real the Delian League of Alexander the Great never collapsed and they now do battle against the Middle Kingdom China by attempting to steal a piece of the sun This was definitely worth reading both for the steampunk and silkpunk content and as a speculation on ancient Greek science which we of course ignore now that we have real scientific evidence of how the universe works I have to disclose that I now very little about Greek celestial theory and so much of the science was opaue to me but that didn t make the book less enjoyable or less inspiringIn a nutshell the book is about a scientist named Aias commander of a celestial ship in the service of the Delian League the Grecian ruled West whose goal at the beginning of the story is to lead an operation that will allow his team to capture a fragment of the sun s fire and use it as a weapon to destroy the capitol of the Middle Kingdom China and nominal leader of the East who they ve been at war with for hundreds of years Middle Kingdom spies and agents are sent to stop this and the first half of the book is spent trying to solve the mystery of who these spies are and how they plan to sabotage the missionAias and his culture use technology derived from ancient Greek theory and the Middle Kingdom uses Taoist science to produce technology powered by Xi Scientists from both sides are constantly hilariously commenting on how incomprehensible the other side s technology is and this seeming gulf of understanding is probably the most important mystery of the book It is eventually solved but the story ends rather abruptly with the completion of Aias s little political manipulation and we never learn what happened to the characters once that hurdle was overcomeThat s my biggest gripe with the book actually I would ve liked a little closure Ramonojon s plight isn t really solved and we don t Pip Sueak Saves the Day Medici Books for Children know what reception Aias and Phan receive in their respective homes or even if they try to return at all since Aias s plan has been blessed by all of his gods you can imagine the future plays out exactly as he lays it out in the last few paragraphs but we get no indication of what happens to these characters As characters are gen. Om the perspective of the Greeks it is less well understood Xi the Chinese notion of spirit and flow can be manipulated to move objects and energy The Chinese five elements of earth metal water wood and fire are transmuted one into the other Part of the central theme of the book is the two system's mutual misunderstanding and bafflement of each otherIn this world the Delian League Greeks and Middle Kingdom Chinese have been fighting a war for nearly a thousand years ever since the time of Alexander the Great when the warrior culture of Sparta and the Athenian Akademe were fused into a half world conuering forc.