To the co-inventor of the calculus or co-discoverer, if you take a more Platonic view , making sense of pages of fictional complexity devised by a single mischievous intelligence should be child's play. But ordinary readers may find themselves longing -- as I did -- for a hypertext version, with clickable links to characters' earlier appearances, family trees, timelines, bibliographies and mathematical diagrams. The dizzying effects of too much information are nothing new to aficionados of cyberpunk, the variety of science fiction closely identified with Stephenson and vice versa. Its practitioners like to throw their readers headlong into a dense, distracting future that makes Times Square look like a cloister. In their worlds it's impossible to know where bodies end and brains begin, or where brains end and computers begin.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe, in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.
It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exp Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe, in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight. It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe--London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer and legendary King of the Vagabonds--risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox.
And it is the tale of Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance.
A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time. And it's just the beginning Cover design by Richard L. Get A Copy. Paperback , P. More Details Original Title. The Baroque Cycle 1. Clarke Award for Best Novel Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Quicksilver , please sign up. It seems to be straight forward Historical Fiction to me. There is a small amount of magical realism: alchemy works, there's a special kind of physically-im …more It's obviously BOTH historical fiction and fantasy. There is a small amount of magical realism: alchemy works, there's a special kind of physically-impossible gold and there is at least one immortal walking about, possibly two. Depends where you draw the line between ordinary fiction didn't happen and fantasy couldn't happen.
Please help me finish this book! Is it just meandering? Is it me? Susan Ackland I dropped it maybe half-way through. Was there a science experiment of …more I dropped it maybe half-way through.
Was there a science experiment of that age that he didn't describe for us? A real estate development that wasn't presented in excruciating detail? The plot doesn't so much wander as get buried under all of the detail. I loved "Cryptonomicon. A lot of the detail in Quicksilver seems to be dead weight. Another reason that "Cryptonomicon" was a better read was that the characters were more accessible and appealing.
I didn't "bond" with the characters in "Quicksilver. That's the nub of it; Stephenson is sui generis and those of us who admire his work find it almost addictive.
See all 4 questions about Quicksilver…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Quicksilver The Baroque Cycle, 1. This book is just too vast to give justice to it in the few lines of this review that I might come up with now.
If you are ready to read this, here are some suggestions: 1 Start with Cryptonomicon first. You don't need to read this first, but it will help you get used to Stephenson's style, and you'll appreciate Quicksilver better having done so. Did you know that London burned? Do you know what the Monmouth This book is just too vast to give justice to it in the few lines of this review that I might come up with now.
Do you know what the Monmouth Rebellion was, and the Bloody Assizes that followed? Do you know about the interregnum? It would be nice if a timeline could be provided that summarizes the main points of English history that serve as context for this book - I admit I did not know enough myself of the history involved to get full appreciation of the book on my first reading Perhaps read the wikipedia page on the diary of Samuel Pepys if not the diary itself. Although he's really just a minor figure in this novel, his diary covers many of the same events that you'll encounter in Quicksilver.
Instead of seeing them as tedious, look for the humor. Stephenson inevitably tries to put some humor into these, and although it's often very dry, it's quite amusing when you see how he's looking askance at the goings-on of the times and persons.
When you understand just how a "letter within a letter" can be written, you'll appreciate more of Stephenson's particular genius. Be prepared, then, for descriptions of events seen through the eyes of a trained scientific observer. Something as simple as the motion of a boat's mast can be used scientifically to provide information about how the boat is loaded, as you'll find in the novel.
Again, these portions of the book are trademarks of Stephenson's ingenuity, and I enjoyed them immensely. This is a long book, and not an easy read. If you can keep track of the main characters, you can actually put it away for a time, and return to it later to resume reading.
I actually started this book some time ago, reading it only when I had uninterrupted opportunities to digest the novel. I read other, lighter, works in the interim to keep me occupied and entertained. In fact, after starting this book, I actually began work on a Master's degree, and completed the Master's degree faster than completing the book.
That was perhaps a bit too slow, but also tells more about how busy I was instead of describing the nature of the book. It is indeed a masterpiece, and you can certainly gain more with each reread.
This type of book is indeed rare, and its peculiar idiosyncrasies just make it more distinctive in its majesty, not lessening its achievement in any way. View all 13 comments. Jul 02, Kemper rated it really liked it Shelves: sci-fi , historical-fiction. The following is an excerpt from the journal of Neal Stephenson.
I know that I want do something set during the late 17th century in Europe. Perhaps have characters who are the ancestors of Lawrence Waterhouse and Bobby Shaftoe? Putting an ancestor of Waterhouse in among them seems like a natural fit. Having a character with a Puritan upbringing caught up in these events would be interesting. Our modern economic systems were being developed, and even the very nature of money itself was being redefined.
That might be a natural place to use a Shaftoe character. Maybe this should be a Shaftoe character. This would definitely be a great Shaftoe character. Maybe have some kind of very smart female character who has to use her charm and brains to navigate a variety of social and political challenges?
Could I tie that in with the money thing? If I write about spies, I could use some of the cryptography stuff I brought into the last book again. I definitely need to do something with pirates. I should also work in some stuff about slavery.
Maybe do some chapters like a stage play from the era? Or tell a section via a series of letters? There are too many possibilities. I just had a crazy thought.
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The Original Information Age
The term "cyberculture" may be relatively new, but one might also regard it as just a new name for a very old sphere of human activity. What were Renaissance alchemists but hackers, rooting around in and trying to reprogram systems of matter? Modern cryptanalysts and programmers have their intellectual roots, too, in work done by wigged mathematicians of centuries past. The idea of a modern computer was arguably invented by Leibniz. Such is the implicit argument of Neal Stephenson's enormous new novel. In his previous work, Cryptonomicon, he welded together two plots - one of codebreaking during the second world war; one of the building of a contemporary "data haven" - to make an extraordinarily gripping and intellectually voracious whole.