by Kim Stanley Robinson.
This is really an extended essay about the life and work of Galileo, masquerading as sci fi (there’s a time travel “framing story,” but it serves only to add a modern observer’s viewpoint). Robinson frequently writes about the interaction of scientists and policymakers, so the subject of Galileo, the world’s first scientist, is a natural for him. It’s the first treatment I’ve seen that correctly depicts the controversy surrounding Galileo as primarily a political, not a religious, one and, as such, one that has interesting resonances with our own day. It’s not all poltics, though — interspersed are excerpts from Galileo’s work (some of which seems amazingly modern) and fascinating interludes about daily life in Galileo’s day — eating and drinking, transportation and communication, and even the horrifying state of medical care.
This book is pretty long (over 500 pages), but it’s an easy read. It is available in paperback or in Kindle format.