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Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
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Quicksilver (2003)

by Neal Stephenson

Other authors: Lisa Gold (Family Trees), Jane S. Kim (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Baroque Cycle (Vol. I, Books 1-3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,807135673 (3.9)220
  1. 40
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (ateolf)
  2. 10
    Water Music by T. C. Boyle (lyzadanger)
    lyzadanger: Similar buffoonish, humorous treatment of English historical figures.
  3. 00
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (ehines)
    ehines: Both interesting contemporary books set amidst the scientific enlightenment, Pears is a bit more historical where Stephenson is more flashily contemporary, but fans of one certainly should look at the other.
  4. 00
    The Mongoliad: Book One by Neal Stephenson (Mind_Booster_Noori)
    Mind_Booster_Noori: Neal Stephenson retelling History with his excellent writing skills...
  5. 00
    Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan (Othemts)
  6. 01
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (YossarianXeno)
    YossarianXeno: Both are compellingly written historical novels
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» See also 220 mentions

English (130)  German (3)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
I'd had it in the back of my mind to jump into this large trilogy sooner or later. It's pretty much what I expected - lots of adventure and detail and history and I enjoyed it quite a bit - enough to continue at least... ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
You can say any sort of nonsense in Latin, and our feeble university men will be stunned, or at least profoundly confused. That’s how the popes have gotten away with peddling bad religion for so long, they simply say it in Latin.

It is assuring to see Stephenson working and waxing so Pynchonian. The author is putting in the work, sketching the details, plumbing for the argot, inserting the puns.

I've read it twice. the Waterhouse sections are divine, the others not so lofty.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Unreadable.
  seitherin | Aug 1, 2018 |
Book I: Quicksilver
This book's protagonist is Daniel Waterhouse. The action starts in colonial Boston where Waterhouse is now and elderly man, but alternates between this time and flashback about years past, when Daniel was young and the enlightenment was in the making. Now, the enlightenment is in full force, and Daniel uses the mathematics invented by Isaac Newton to determine the physical characteristics of a pursuing pirate ship. Since the first time I read this book, I know so much more about the time and the events in it, that I understand it completely differently.
  themulhern | May 6, 2018 |
The selection may have been approved by the author but the omissions make this already complex and allusive book close to incoherent. I felt I had to reread the complete, physical book, to get any real comprehension.
  themulhern | May 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gold, LisaFamily Treessecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kim, Jane S.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, RichardCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräbener-Müller, JulianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sarkar, ShubhaniDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springer, NickCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausTranslatorsecondary 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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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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)

» see all 9 descriptions

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