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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, #1)
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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  31,569 Ratings  ·  1,847 Reviews
An unexpected byproduct of CRYPTONOMICON that ended up taking over my life for a number of years. As I was finishing CRYPTONOMICON, I had two chance conversations with old friends. One was with George Dyson, author of DARWIN AMONG THE MACHINES, in which he talks about the deep roots of computing in the work of Leibniz at the dawn of the Scientific Revolution. The other was ...more
ebook, 1093 pages
Published March 28th 2004 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published September 23rd 2003)
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Pete Harris It's obviously BOTH historical fiction and fantasy. There is a small amount of magical realism: alchemy works, there's a special kind of…moreIt'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).(less)
Pygment Wex I have given up on "reading" it and am now listening to it as an audiobook. That makes it somewhat easier to understand. The way dialogue works is…moreI have given up on "reading" it and am now listening to it as an audiobook. That makes it somewhat easier to understand. The way dialogue works is that the speaker is not identified often enough for me to follow and I kept losing place. Listening to it has been easier. In reading it I achieved page 116, in the audiobook I've listened to almost 2 hours of it and I'm only on page 50 of the book. We shall see if I can continue through all 22 hours of this audiobook. (less)
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Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

2) Before reading Quicksilver, spend some time brushing up on some basic English history. (Did you know that London burned? Do you know what the Monmouth
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(The following is an excerpt from the journal of Neal Stephenson.)

After the success of Cryptonomicon, I’m having some problems narrowing down my next project. The issue is that I have far too many ideas, and I can’t decide which plot to use for my next book.

I know that I want do something set during the late 17th century in Europe. It was an amazing time with huge changes in politics, culture, commerce and science, but there was just so much going on that I can’t seem to make up my mind and pic
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It's the Moby-Dick question.

The plot's about an angry guy chasing a whale. There's not a lot of variation on this theme: he catches it, or he doesn't. Maybe he catches it and wishes that he didn't, maybe he doesn't and regrets that he failed. But this basic plot, a straightforward quest for revenge, is such thin gruel that you'd have to be on the lower end of the intellectual spectrum to fail to realize that the book's about something a little bit more than hunting a big fish.

Even so, the
I received an unexpected visit yesterday evening from a Mr. Nosnehpets, who told me he was a time-traveller and writer from the early 25th century. He had just published a historical novel, and wondered if I would do him the service of reviewing it.

"Why me?" I asked, bemused.

"Well," replied my visitor with an insinuating smile, "You appear in it more than once. You don't know it yet, but you're one of your period's major authors."

I snatched the book, Mercury, from his hands, and it was even as h
Aug 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think it's official: I hate Neil Stephenson's books. I hated his so called cyberpunk classic Snow Crash --a fact that sets me apart from most of the nerdegalian-- and I really hated Quicksilver.

Quicksilver is kind of hard to classify, if you in fact insist on classifying it. It's kind of historical fiction in that it's set in the 17th and 18th century and follows the rise of empiricism and science. It features real people from that period, like Isaac Newton, Gotfried Leibniz, Robert Boyle, Rob
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson is in some ways the strangest book I’ve read this year.

The most surprising aspect of the book is the fact that there is no plot. I’ve read books that have started really slowly, and even books where the author largely ignores plot to focus on building the setting. This book, however, has no plot.

For all intents and purposes, Quicksilver is The 17th Century: The Novel. In many ways it feels like the literary equivalent of an open world video game. You just go around
Mark Hebwood
Well. Where to start with this... Ok. Let us first pretend that there are only two criteria to use when analysing works of fiction, (1) number of characters and (2) richness of plot. Now let us say we are drawing a chart, with quality 1 on the horizontal axis, and quality 2 on the vertical axis. Now we have a space into which we can slot a few books lying around the house. A Dickens novel goes into the upper right quadrant of the grid - many characters and rich plot to bind them together. A Samu ...more
Dan Schwent
Mar 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This was the book that knocked Neal Stephenson off of my "buy on sight" list. Too long, nothing happening, the first of three dauntingly large volumes. That about sums it up.
Stephen Dranger
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scientists, armchair philosophers, and people who like reading for the sake of reading
Reading a huge 900+ page hardcover book with a seemingly open plot filled with pages of 17th century philosophical exposition and the requirement of reading two more books just like it may seem like a chore, but for me at least, Stephenson makes it fascinating. He reveals (or invents, at the very least) the inner workings of Isaac Newton, early Dutch stock market fraud, the invention of the calculus, and Turkish harems. This all serves as a backdrop for Daniel Waterhouse, Jack Shaftoe, and Eliza ...more
Neal Stephenson books are not for everybody. Actually, they are but not everybody will like them. This will certainly be the case for Quicksilver. It's a "love it" or "WTF did I just read?" kind of reaction. A NS book is often dense and erratic in the linear story. Mr. Stephenson has a myriad of interests and a sizeable intellect backing him up. His stories tend to delve in a variety of side topics (all of which are very informative but outside the normal story arc) and that can be off putting t ...more
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Neal Stephenson is the author of Reamde, Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World), as well as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
More about Neal Stephenson...

Other Books in the Series

The Baroque Cycle (3 books)
  • The Confusion (The Baroque Cycle, #2)
  • The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, #3)
“Whenever serious and competent people need to get things done in the real world, all considerations of tradition and protocol fly out the window.” 100 likes
“Talent was not rare; the ability to survive having it was.” 57 likes
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