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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) by…
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Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Neal Stephenson

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7,252123491 (3.92)184
Member:sequelguy
Title:Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1)
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:Harper Perennial (2004), Paperback, 960 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:pleasure, read

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Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (2003)

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» See also 184 mentions

English (120)  German (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
I had some problem at the beginning for entering the book then after some time, it was a real pleasure with the humour displayed by Stephenson, I plan to read he whole Baroq cycle... ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
"My research! Let me show you it!"

By which I mean, I wish Stephenson had taken the time to put some plot or characterization in there with all this info dumps. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Sadly, this trilogy did NOT live up to my expectations (which were high).
"Snow Crash" and "The Diamond Age" are still two of my favorite books of all time, but, I just found out from a friend that Neal Stephenson apparently changed publishers directly before Cryptonomicon. I think he also ditched his editor.
Stephenson is an excellent writer, but this book is badly in need of an editor.

According to Stephenson, the "Baroque Cycle" is actually 8 novels. The publisher is of the opinion that it is three. "Quicksilver" contains the first 3 (around 900 pages worth). The first book is kinda about Isaac Newton, math, and the state of scientific research in the 17th century. The second is about a ne'er-do-well type who inadvertently rescues a British harem slave who turns out to be a financial genius. The third book kinda brings all these characters sort-of-but-not-really together in a load of massively complicated political stuff, with tons of both historical figures and fictional characters involved.

More than the story, the book really has to do with Things That Stephenson Thinks are Funny/Interesting/Clever, etc. And some of them ARE very interesting, funny, and etc... But one gets the feeling that the author is self-consciously winking at you far too often. Too much cleverness. All the characters "correspond" to those in Cryptonomicon, too (which I read long enough ago that it needed to be pointed out to me.) I guess these are supposed to be their ancestors? In addition, it's very, umm... earthy. Fixated on unpleasant physical details, shall we say. And, it didn't really succeed in making mathematical proofs seem exciting, to me.

Stephenson apparently has tried to claim that this is a "science fiction" book, becase it contains a few fictional and unlikely elements - and it has to do with science. But it really is not.

Well, I'm going to continue with the series, but I'll consider myself lucky if I even finish it this month. It's been a slog so far. A not totally unrewarding one, but still. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A book that spans the events of the late 17th and early 18th centuries in England and America.
We go back and forth in time with a protagonist that seems to observe many of the great events and thinkers of a very momentous age.
Interesting and a very big undertaking. Can be a bit slow in spots. ( )
  quiBee | Jan 21, 2016 |
OK, in fairness I think some folks will love this author and this story. Reading the reviews ahead of time, it seemed like historical fiction, which I love, and lots of folks do love what he's written here.

For me though, I needed more story, or maybe a story that felt more connected to me. I kept finding myself feeling a bit lost on the connection, and often found that the storytelling aspect just wasn't what I hoped for.

At any rate, I read about half this book, sticking with it in the hopes that it would come alive for me and I could enjoy the whole series. It never did. However, it's one of those I might go back to and pick up again in the hope that it will start to connect - maybe at a different point in my life? I hate giving it two stars, because I really do think it works for many people, it just didn't for me right now. ( )
  bicyclewriter | Jan 8, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gold, LisaFamily Treessecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kim, Jane S.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ShubhaniDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, NickCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Those who assume hypotheses as first principles of their speculations ... may indeed form an ingenious romance, but a romance it will still be.

— Roger Cotes,

Preface to Sir Isaac Newton's

Principia Mathematica,

second edition, 1713
There is, doubtless, as much skill in pourtraying a Dunghill, as in describing the finest Palace, since the Excellence of Things lyes in the Performance; and Art as well as Nature must have some extraordinary Shape or Quality if it come up to the pitch of Human Fancy, especially to please in this Fickle, Uncertain Age.
Memoirs of the Right Villanous John Hall, 1708
In all times kings, and persons of sovereign authority, because of their independency, are in continual jealosies, and in the state and posture of gladiators; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns upon the frontiers of their kingdoms; and continual spies upon their neighbors; which is a posture of war.
— Hobbes, Leviathan
Dedication
To the woman upstairs
First words
Enoch rounds the corner just as the executioner raises the noose above the woman's head.
Quotations
"Crying loudly is childish, in that it reflects a belief, on the crier's part, that someone is around to hear the noise, and come a-running to make it all better. Crying in silence, as Daniel does this morning, is the mark of the mature sufferer who no longer nurses, nor is nursed by, any such comfortable delusions."
"'As I'm now beginning to understand–you are something of a virtuoso when it comes to manipulating men's mental states,' Monmouth said.
'You make it sound ever so much more difficult than it really is,' Eliza answered. 'Mostly I just sit quietly and let the men manipulate themselves.'"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the first volume of the three-volume edition. Please don't combine with the first volume of the eight-volume edition with the same title.
Publisher's editors
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060593083, Paperback)

In Quicksilver, the first volume of the "Baroque Cycle," Neal Stephenson launches his most ambitious work to date. The novel, divided into three books, opens in 1713 with the ageless Enoch Root seeking Daniel Waterhouse on the campus of what passes for MIT in eighteenth-century Massachusetts. Daniel, Enoch's message conveys, is key to resolving an explosive scientific battle of preeminence between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz over the development of calculus. As Daniel returns to London aboard the Minerva, readers are catapulted back half a century to recall his years at Cambridge with young Isaac. Daniel is a perfect historical witness. Privy to Robert Hooke's early drawings of microscope images and with associates among the English nobility, religious radicals, and the Royal Society, he also befriends Samuel Pepys, risks a cup of coffee, and enjoys a lecture on Belgian waffles and cleavage-—all before the year 1700.

In the second book, Stephenson introduces Jack Shaftoe and Eliza. "Half-Cocked" Jack (also know as the "King of the Vagabonds") recovers the English Eliza from a Turkish harem. Fleeing the siege of Vienna, the two journey across Europe driven by Eliza's lust for fame, fortune, and nobility. Gradually, their circle intertwines with that of Daniel in the third book of the novel.

The book courses with Stephenson's scholarship but is rarely bogged down in its historical detail. Stephenson is especially impressive in his ability to represent dialogue over the evolving worldview of seventeenth-century scientists and enliven the most abstruse explanation of theory. Though replete with science, the novel is as much about the complex struggles for political ascendancy and the workings of financial markets. Further, the novel's literary ambitions match its physical size. Stephenson narrates through epistolary chapters, fragments of plays and poems, journal entries, maps, drawings, genealogic tables, and copious contemporary epigrams. But, caught in this richness, the prose is occasionally neglected and wants editing. Further, anticipating a cycle, the book does not provide a satisfying conclusion to its 900 pages. These are minor quibbles, though. Stephenson has matched ambition to execution, and his faithful, durable readers will be both entertained and richly rewarded with a practicum in Baroque science, cypher, culture, and politics. --Patrick O'Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledgein 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, confidate, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance" --Cover, p. 4.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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