The Baroque Cycle

Apr 4, 21:34 by Bluejack

So: is the Neil Stephenson's crowning achievement, or his ultimate folly? What might you add to Hugh Ryan's review?

(Read the review here.)
Apr 5, 07:37 by Joy Ralph
I do love Stephenson's work, as a general rule, but I have always felt he has a bit of trouble with endings. It interests me to see that play out on a larger scale of three novels instead of three sections of one novel. Based on something I read (part of the intro to Q.?) where Stephenson rebukes off-stage detractors, however, I don't know if he'd be amenable to the criticism. It isn't a matter of length; as Mr. Ryan mentions it's more a matter of structure: the stories never resolve, and instead sort-of wander to a halt.

My own reaction to Quicksilver was lukewarm-but-drawn-in, but I put the Confusion down after the second chapter and simply wasn't ever motivated to pick it up again. I haven't essayed the third volume, and probablly won't - not from malice so much as "too many books, too little time".

What I enjoyed most about Q. (and about Cryptonomicon before) was how he brought the historical figures to life. I never really warmed to Eliza, and I think my annoyance with Jack is part of why I let the second installment lie around unfinished. But Newton? a brilliant evocation of someone who must have been both amazing and amazingly difficult to be around.
Apr 5, 14:32 by David DiGiacomo
Much is made of Eliza’s promise from Quicksilver to allow Jack to neither see her face nor hear her voice again for as long as he lives, and yet when that vow is broken, nothing is made of the moment.

Eliza did not break her promise, because [spoiler] Jack died on the gallows. What I couldn't understand is why Eliza made the promise in the first place. It seemed beyond what Louis would have required.
Apr 6, 08:17 by Joe Gordon
While agreeing that the third volume was not perhaps everything it could have been, I think it still stands head and shoulders over many other recently published works (in any genre). I and other friends and other booksellers who read it all felt a sad sense of loss when we reached the end, knowing that there would be no further volume, so immersed in this world had we become.
Apr 7, 07:08 by Joe Green
An angle I think overlooked in most of the criticisms of the Cycle (and let me say up front I'm only half-way thru the second volume) is Stevenson's exploration/explication of the birth of the modern financial system. Moving away from the transfer of actual gold/silver was a necessary prequisite to any real development of industry, and all the benefits that followed -- including the exponential growth of science. Stevenson is one of the few authors in the SF field to tackle this topic. Overall, I think the Cycle is an amazing accomplishment.

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