As extraordinary an achievement as Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson's new novel is set in the 17th century, in another world of secrets, codes and conflict.
Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic 'The Baroque Cycle' (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Adventure, romance, politics, history, theology, magic, science, money and calculus: this audiobook has it all, and it astonishes on several levels. Never mind that it is only the first third of a trilogy or that this massive audiobook consists of "selections approved by the author" (the reading is punctuated with phrases like "here follows a brief summary of pages 167 to 182" or "pages 653 through 677 have been eliminated"). Stephenson's (Snow Crash; Cryptonomicon) masterfully complex and entertaining plot braids the life of Daniel Waterhouse, a colleague of Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, with that of the "king of the Vagabonds," Half-Cocked Jack Shaftoe, and Eliza, a harem slave turned powerful financier. It is a tale of the pursuit of knowledge in Baroque Europe, peppered with taut action, knee-slapping humor and head-scratching science. BBC announcer/Shakespearean actor Prebble's performance is wonderfully nuanced. His authoritative narration, combined with his chameleon-like facility for character and accent, is nothing short of enchanting. Though he performs both male and female parts, Nielsen reads Eliza's copious letters; initially, this seems like a strange choice, but the shift from storytelling to that of reading merits the transition, and Nielsen's contribution enriches the whole. The experience of listening to this audiobook is something rare, as it's a literary tale that brings history, science and philosophy to life in a heartily entertaining fashion. Based on the Morrow hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 25, 2003). (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This follow-up to the best-selling Cryptonomicon features Daniel, who's overshadowed by pal Isaac Newton; Jack, King of the Vagabonds; and Eliza, who has escaped from a Turkish harem. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"[A] massive tour-de-force- Dense, witty, erudite, packed with
fascinating characters, and gripping despite a distended length,
Quicksilver is both a worthy prequel to Cryptonomicon, and an
indication that Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is shaping up to be a
far more impressive literary endeavour than most so-called
"serious" fiction - No scholarly, and intellectually provocative,
historical novel has been this much fun since The Name of the
Rose." -- Charles Shaar Murray * Independent *
"Staggering diversity and detail ... An astonishing achievement." * Sunday Telegraph *
"A great, heaving countryside of a book...consistently funny...fluent and elusive, while retaining just the right hint of poison" * Telegraph *
"Stephenson mixes a library's worth of ideas with compulsive derring-do ... its scope and inventiveness become addictive." * Time Out *
"A breathless ride...the writing gives an immersive sense of time and place" * Face *