10 thoughts on “Quicksilver

  1. Bryan Bryan says:

    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 Rebellion was, and the Bloody Assizes that followed Do you know about the interregnum Do you know that William III deposed James II in a coup 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 so now I ll have to read it again some time after doing some historical readings.Perhaps read the wikipedia page on the d...


  2. Kemper Kemper says:

    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 pick one or two concepts for the book Here are some of the top ideas I m mulling over The soldier and scientist dynamic between Waterhouse and Shaftoe worked so well in Cryptonomicon that I d like to do something similar here Perhaps have characters who are the ancestors of Lawrence Waterhouse and Bobby Shaftoe This would be during the early period of the Royal Society when men like Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Gottfried Leibniz, and many others were essentially creating modern science and battling among themselves Putting an ancestor of Waterhouse in among them seems like a natural fit I m also fascinated by all the religious upheaval in England following Cromwell s death through The Glorious Revolution Having a character with a Puritan upbringing caught up in these events would be interesting Maybe that s the place to bring a Waterhouse into it But I m equally interested by all that was happening in comm...


  3. WK WK says:

    4.0 4.0It 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 than hunting a big fish.Even so, there s no guarantee that you re going to tolerate 20 pages about rope At the end of the digression, you re either going to respond in one of two ways You might be of the sort to go, Hmm, that was some fascinating rope discourse I had no idea that rope could be used in such multifaceted ways, and having read that, I am now a different and slightly rounded person Then again, you could respond with a JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, enough with the stupid rope already For fuck s sake, where s that son of a bitch whale The white sea mammal is the TITLE of the book, and I m reading about some shitty rope Christ, I need some vodka Yo...


  4. Jamie Jamie says:

    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, Robert Hook, King Louis XIV, and others But the fiction part of historical fiction comes into play because the main characters an aspiring natural philosopher read scientist named Daniel Waterhouse, a former concubine turned finance tycoon named Eliza, and a charming vagabond named Jack Shaftoe never really existed and were fabricated for the sake of the book, which traces the activities of these three main characters as they live through the era.The main problem I have with Quicksilver was that it was largely plotless I kept waiting for something to hap...


  5. Manny Manny says:

    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 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 he said There was hardly a chapter where I didn t turn up Often I would speak for paragraphs at a time You have cast me in an overly flattering light, I protested I think you ll find that quotation actually comes from Oscar Wilde And this one is due to Winston Churchill Details, details, said Nosnehpets impatiently Only the worst kind of wikipede is going to object Try and see the big picture I never came close to stopping the invasion of Iraq, I said faintly, as I continued to leaf through it I went to a demonstration in Washington, that s all And I never had a torrid affair with Catherine Zeta Jones I know we were both brought up in Wales, but Nosnehpets sighed I suppose you re going to tell me you didn t discover the Higgs particle either he asked, with an unpleasantly iro...


  6. Mark Hebwood Mark Hebwood says:

    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 Samuel Beckett play would be located upper left just a few characters, but richly textured interactions between them Dan Brown Bottom left I am afraid ok there are other views but this is me talking now And what s in the bottom right quadrant The London telephone book takes pride of place, situated on the far right and exactly on the axis And just to the north west of it we find Quicksilver.Why Well let s see Let me talk about size first Quicksilver forms part of a sequence of three volumes, each weighing in at some 900 pages Each volume consists of 3 reasonably stand alone novels, so essentially we have a series of 9 texts, running to a combined 3000 pages Indeed, the scope is even expansive than this and we can think of th...


  7. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    The gold that paid for a pound of Malabar pepper was melted and fused with the gold that paid for a boatload of North Sea herring, and all of it was simply gold, bearing no trace or smell of the fish or the spice that had fetched it In the case of C lestial Dynamics, the gold the universal medium of exchange, to which everything was reduced was force. Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver Book 1 Quicksilver That one man sickens and dies, while another flourishes, are characters in the cryptic message that philosophers seek to decode. Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver Book 1 Quicksilver gives off a bit of a low brow SF Pynchon vibe It works well in parts, and falls a bit flat in parts dialogue, etc I sometimes wish Stephenson wouldn t chase down every last snowflake I really do, however, enjoy the primary narrator Daniel Waterhouse and his interactions with such figures as Isaac Newton, Samuel Pepys, John Wilkins, etc Having already read Cryptonomicon, I was also glad to see Enoch Root one of my favorite characters from that book Like Pynchon, Stephenson takes historical fiction and probes the fiction needle into history at funky angles He thrills at causing his fictional characters to interact in oblique ways to historical characters Given the large amount of negative space in history think about how much we DON T know about...


  8. Markus Markus says:

    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 exploring with the characters, with no context or coherence whatsoever Historical value is incredible Certain individuals, like Isaac Newton, John Churchill and William of Orange, figure heavily Tons of others make shorter appearances As for location, the book takes you everywhere from the port of colonial Boston to the 1683 siege of Vienna.And almost surprisingly, it s charming Almost a thousand pages of exploring a historical setting occasionally becomes an arduous task, but occasionally also becomes an exciting adventure filled with interesting details.The book is divided into three parts Considering the ridiculous size of the whole volum...


  9. Dan Schwent Dan Schwent says:

    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.


  10. Sud666 Sud666 says:

    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 to many who dislike tangential topics to the main plot Well..you have been warned For the rest of you that like NS, let me tell you about Quicksilver.It is a book broken up into three parts The first part, Quicksilver, is flashback of the early life of Daniel Waterhouse during the early 1700s The second part, King of the Vagabonds, focuses on James half Cocked Shaftoe and the vast majority takes place circa 1683 The final part, Odalisque, goes back to D Waterhouse and details his exploits during his time as a courtier for Charles II of England.Set during t...