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The System Of The World: Volume Three of the…

The System Of The World: Volume Three of the Baroque Cycle (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Neal Stephenson

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4,91153932 (4.27)44
Title:The System Of The World: Volume Three of the Baroque Cycle
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:Avon (2005), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 928 pages
Collections:E-books, 2012
Tags:fiction, historical fiction, adventure, science fiction, alchemy, mathematics, politics, religion, Baroque Cycle, 18th century, London, England, Hanover, Isaac Newton, Liebniz, Daniel Waterhouse, Jack Shaftoe, Eliza, Enoch Root

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The System of the World by Neal Stephenson (2004)



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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
This book and the trilogy of which it is the conclusion, these don't really develop rich characters. The number of characters is reasonably small so we hear and see their actions again and again. But it's one of these Rube Goldberg contraptions. The whole plot is wildly, impossibly complex and interwoven. The characters are mostly just the steel balls that run the channels and trip the levers.

But the point of the book is not really the plot. All the channels and levers are a kind of demonstration, of the system of the world. Not so much the physics of Newton, but the structure and dynamics of modern society. Money is the main character here and what is most richly developed. And indeed money is the essence of the modern world.

Beneath that there is this intriguing metaphysical puzzle: the two labyrinths, the nature of the continuum and the puzzle of determinism and free will. Are these two actually facets of the same conundrum? Stephenson's notion seems to be that society is patched together with some rough approximation of a solution to the conundrum, which works for a while and then finally the flaws overwhelm the system and some new approach needs to be worked out.

I have to wonder if the point of the book is really to help us confront the situation we are facing now. Newton, Leibniz, Spinoza et al. put together the modern world that has survived some 350 years roughly. At this point the thing seems to be crumbling. We don't need a new solution that is any more perfect than the modern solution. We just need a new system that can see us through the next few centuries, that can provide enough structure for society that people can lead fulfilling lives and and prepare for the next revolution in how our world is put together. ( )
1 vote kukulaj | Feb 6, 2017 |
Best of the three, a pleasure!
Happy end! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
After 2,000+ pages of this 3-volume saga I keep looking at the end table where I keep the book(s) I am currently reading hoping to see a volume 4. Highly recommended. ( )
  whg99 | Mar 29, 2016 |
Overall, I found The Baroque Cycle rather tedious. But it did end pretty well. Ties in a bit more with Cryptonomicon. Had some actual tension and action...
I still hold that these books really could have used a good editing, however. At many points, the characters were just being put through 'Philosophickal Dialogues' which in no way really resembled conversations that actual people might have... of course, this was decidedly intentional, and some of the most interesting bits were in such parts... but I still feel the whole thing could have benefited greatly from being 'tighter'...
Like I said before, it was work to read this... not wholly unrewarding work, but still...

I'm still not positive how I feel about what Stephenson did with this work, which was really to put ideas about computing, information theory, and the economics of information and capitalism into the minds of historical (and fictional) characters of the 17th century... it's (obviously) not accurate, and although it draws some interesting parallels, I think I do prefer historical novels that make an effort to accurately portray a feeling of time and place (although they may be equally wrong, who knows?) ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
  jrthebutlertest | Sep 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Neal Stephenson spent nearly 2,000 pages setting his convergent plots into motion in The System of the World, and they all collide brilliantly in the third and final installment of his Baroque Cycle.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Springer, NickCartographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräbener-Müller, JulianeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maestro, Laura HartmanGlobe illustrationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ShubhaniDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But first whom shall we send
In search of this new world, whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt with wandring feet
The dark unbottom'd infinite Abyss
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his aerie flight
Upborn with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Ile...
— Milton, Paradise Lost
There was the usual amount of corruption, intimidation, and rioting.

— Sir Charles Petrie, describing a Parliamentary election of the era.
It remains that, from the same principles, I now demonstrate the frame of the System of the World.

— Newton, Principia Mathematica
To Mildred
First words
"Men half your age and double your weight have been slain on these wastes by Extremity of Cold," said the Earl of Lostwithiel, Lord Warden of the Stannaries, and Rider of the Forest and Chase of Dartmoor, to one of his two fellow-travelers.
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This is the third volume of the three-volume edition. Please don't combine with the eighth volume of the eight-volume edition with the same title.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060750863, Paperback)

England, 1714. London has long been home to a secret war between the brilliant, enigmatic Master of the Mint and closet alchemist, Isaac Newton, and his archnemesis, the insidious counterfeiter Jack the Coiner. Hostilities are suddenly moving to a new and more volatile level as Half-Cocked Jack hatches a daring plan, aiming for the total corruption of Britain's newborn monetary system.

Enter Daniel Waterhouse: Aging Puritan and Natural Philosopher, Daniel has been on a long and harrowing quest to help mend the rift between adversarial geniuses. As Daniel combs city and country for clues to the identity of the blackguard who is attempting to blow up Natural Philosophers, political factions jockey for position while awaiting the impending death of the ailing queen, and the "holy grail" of alchemy, the key to life eternal, tantalizes and continues to elude Isaac Newton.

As Newton, Waterhouse, and Shaftoe each circle closer to the object of Daniel's quest, everything that was will be changed forever ...

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In the wake of a power struggle between the throne-seeking Tories and Whigs in early eighteenth-century England, Daniel Waterhouse teams up with Isaac Newton to hunt down a shadowy group that uses time bombs to kill Natural Philosophers.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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