HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Years of Rice and Salt (2002)

by Kim Stanley Robinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,148933,329 (3.66)168
It is the fourteenth century, and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur-the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe's population was destroyed. But what if the plague had killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed? This is a look at the history that could have been-a history that stretches across centuries, a history that sees dynasties and nations rise and crumble, a history that spans horrible famine and magnificent innovation. These are the years of rice and salt. This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world's greatest scientific minds-in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions, and Christianity is merely a historical footnote. Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry. Rewriting history and probing the most profound questions as only he can, Robinson shines his extraordinary light on the place of religion, culture, power, and even love on such an Earth. From the steppes of Asia to the shores of the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.… (more)
Recently added bylcoghlan, private library, staafl, jtmcla, reelbigschmidt, kwurst, michaelaugust, Monj
Legacy LibrariesInternational Space Station
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 168 mentions

English (85)  French (3)  Hungarian (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
How would history have turned out differently if the Black Death had wiped out 99% of the population of Europe rather than a third?

I can recognise that this is something of a tour de force, but after 170-odd pages I have to say it's not for me. DNF ( )
  Robertgreaves | Nov 29, 2021 |
I am a huge Kim Stanley Robinson fan, and this book exceeded even my expectations. A thoughtful, engaging, and inspiring look at what might have been. ( )
  eliason | Sep 28, 2021 |
Really liked the first few lifetimes. Liked the poetry in the first one too. Got bogged down in the reformed alchemist/inventor lifetime and realized that I didn't want to read another 300 pages. ( )
1 vote Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
One of the few things I really remember from high school is my old 9th Year History teacher delivering a great lesson about what the essence of understanding history is... for every event you basically need three elements- Motive, Capacity and Opportunity (rather like a murder I guess). Once you understand the basic what/when, then the how and why, you can fully appreciate the most interesting thing about history which is the “what if”. Of course, once you think about the what ifs, and how they could have so easily happened (and why they didn't), you're able to more fully appreciate why things happened as they did, and this gives you a better understanding of why 'now' is like it is, and how history is so far from being a linear deterministic chain of events, inevitably leading to the present. After World War 2, one of the most interesting areas of counterfactual history is the American War of Independence. It was chock full of 'what ifs' that so easily could have happened. One was Washington's lucky overnight escape from Brooklyn Heights early in the war when surrounded by the British- a fog came down out of nowhere and allowed them to escape by boat without the Royal Navy or the army realising. If he'd been captured/killed there the war could have ended there and then. Doesn't mean to say that the USA wouldn't have emerged independent sooner or later but that gets you into a different conversation again.

It's hardly surprising that fiction writers as well as historians pick up on this endlessly fertile and interesting 'area' - it's quite an evocative thought to the reader to think that a random act of weather or whatever could lead to them never having existed / speaking another language / be part of a different country, etc., etc.

One book I'd add to the list of “worth-noticing-what-ifs” is “The Years of Rice and Salt” - great if somewhat drawn out 'epic' covering hundreds of years after the 'counterfactual point' which is all of Europe being wiped out by the Black Death and the vacuum this creates in world history (and who fills it)... I have much love for this novel, which posits European Civilisation as being utterly destroyed by the plague, bar a few ginger Scots firanji, and thus the world develops almost wholly on Asiatic terms, fascinatingly told through the “reincarnatative” conceit of the bardo. ( )
2 vote antao | Jun 4, 2021 |
An intriguing tale that spools out over many centuries and across continents, The Years of Rice and Salt is a vast, episodic alternate history whose starting point is that the Black Death kills 99% of the people in Europe rather than a mere third or so as in the real world. The aftermath of this disaster is memorably witnesses by Bold, a Mongol warrior, who then moves on to further globe-trotting adventures. The story then moves out from there, with Buddhist reincarnation as a driving plot device, pinging around the world to show a world that is different from our own and often strangely the same, but focused on figures from the world of Islam and China, and later India and North America. The looping plot is and recurring characters is somewhat reminiscent of [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1563042852l/49628._SX50_.jpg|1871423], which came out just a couple years later... There must have been something in the water in the early 2000s.

Some of my favorite episodes included the accidental discovery of the New World by a lost Chinese fleet; a scientific renaissance led by a disgraced alchemist Samarkand; and a massive flood that sweeps immigrants out from this world's version of California's Central Valley to a new life in Fangzhang, the City by the Bay (built on the Northern side of the Golden Gate... half the fun is figuring out where in the world the action is taking place). Other moments are bizarre and terrifying, with some really rough moments of violence and war, especially as the plot moves closer to our own time. One element that is really intriguing is that I think you'd be hard pressed to say which timeline was "better," both our own world and this alternate history abound with a mix of the horrific and the sublime, progress and regression.

The book is understandably all over the place, and some of the lives chronicled here are far more interesting than others; in all honesty some of the longest sections I personally found quite boring, and I found myself reading in a somewhat distracted manner to get ahead. But the book also has plenty of intriguing ideas, surprising historical twists and rhymes, metafictional jokes, stylistic flourishes, and lovely character moments. The over-arching meta plot builds to a surprisingly satisfying conclusion that was quite moving. ( )
1 vote francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
If there is a weakness in Robinson's work, it is perhaps this; his characters are so intelligent that they never shut up and often have fascinating conversations for page after page about the engineering of fortifications or the reconciliation of Sufism and Confucianism or, most extendedly, the ways that history works. It is always good talk, in which everyone speaks in character. For Robinson, science fiction is not only a literature of ideas, but a literature whose characters have lots of them.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Stanley Robinsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ayers, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinchot, BronsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Pocket (5850)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
TRIPITAKA: Monkey, how far is it to the Western Heaven, the abode of Buddha?

WU-KONG: You can walk from the time of your youth till the time you grow old, and after that, till you become young again; and even after going through such a cycle a thousand times, you may still find it difficult to reach the place where you want to go. But when you perceive, by the resoluteness of your will, the Buddha-nature in all things, and when every one of your thoughts goes back to that fountain in your memory, that will be the time you arrive at Spirit Mountain. -- The Journey to the West
Dedication
First words
Monkey never dies.
Quotations
The word of God came down to man as rain to soil, and the result was mud, not clear water.
Reincarnation is a story we tell; then in the end it's the story itself that is the reincarnation.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

It is the fourteenth century, and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur-the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe's population was destroyed. But what if the plague had killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed? This is a look at the history that could have been-a history that stretches across centuries, a history that sees dynasties and nations rise and crumble, a history that spans horrible famine and magnificent innovation. These are the years of rice and salt. This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world's greatest scientific minds-in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions, and Christianity is merely a historical footnote. Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry. Rewriting history and probing the most profound questions as only he can, Robinson shines his extraordinary light on the place of religion, culture, power, and even love on such an Earth. From the steppes of Asia to the shores of the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.66)
0.5 8
1 22
1.5 1
2 61
2.5 25
3 139
3.5 61
4 228
4.5 26
5 163

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 166,289,439 books! | Top bar: Always visible