Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in 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, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance.
A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time.
And it's just the beginning ...
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Quicksilver is a massive, exuberant and wildly ambitious historical novel that's also Neal Stephenson's eagerly awaited prequel to Cryptonomicon--his pyrotechnic reworking of the 20th century, from World War II codebreaking and disinformation to the latest issues of Internet data privacy.
Quicksilver, "Volume One of the Baroque Cycle", backtracks to another time of high intellectual ferment: the late 17th century, with the natural philosophers of England's newly formed Royal Society questioning the universe and dissecting everything that moves. One founding member, the Rev John Wilkins, really did write science fiction and a book on cryptography--but this isn't history as we know it, for here his code book is called not Mercury but Cryptonomicon. And although the key political schemers of Charles II's government still have initials spelling the word CABAL, their names are all different...
While towering geniuses like Newton and Leibniz decode nature itself, bizarre adventures (merely beginning with the Great Plague and Great Fire) happen to the fictional Royal Society member Daniel Waterhouse, who knows everyone but isn't quite bright enough for cutting-edge science. Two generations of Daniel's family appear in Cryptonomicon, as does a descendant of the Shaftoes who here are soldiers and vagabonds. Other links include the island realm of Qwghlm with its impossible language and the mysterious, seemingly ageless alchemist Enoch Root.
As the reign of Charles II gives way to that of James II and then William of Orange, Stephenson traces the complex lines of finance and power that form the 17th-century Internet. Gold and silver, lead and (repeatedly) mercury or quicksilver flow in glittering patterns between centres of marketing and intrigue in England, Germany, France and Holland. Paper flows as well: stocks, shares, scams and letters holding layers of concealed code messages. Binary code? Yes, even that had already been invented and described by Francis Bacon.
Quicksilver is crammed with unexpected incidents, fascinating digressions and deep-laid plots. Who'd believe that Eliza, a Qwghlmian slave girl liberated from a Turkish harem by mad Jack Shaftoe (King of the Vagabonds) could become a major player in European finance and politics? Still less believable, but all too historically authentic, are the appalling medical procedures of the time--about which we learn a lot. There are frequent passages of high comedy, like the lengthy description of a foppish earl's costume which memorably explains that someone seemed to have been painted in glue before "shaking and rolling him in a bin containing thousands of black silk doilies".
This is a huge, exhausting read, full of rewards and quirky insights that no other author could have created. Fantastic or farcical episodes sometimes clash strangely with the deep cruelty and suffering of 17th-century realism. Recommended, though not to the faint-hearted. --David LangfordReview:
"Sprawling, irreverent, and ultimately profound." -- Newsweek
"Genius . . . You'll wish it were longer." -- Time magazine
"A sprawling, engrossing tale." -- Seattle Times
"An astonishing achievement." -- Sunday Telegraph
An astonishing achievement. --Sunday Telegraph
A sprawling, engrossing tale. --Seattle Times
"[A]n awe-inspiring book, stuffed with heart-stopping action scenes ... and a treasure trove of forgotten historical lore."--Book
"Genius . . . You'll wish it were longer."--Time magazine
"Stephenson's new machine is a wonderment to behold. A-"--Entertainment Weekly
"[QUICKSILVER] explores the philosophical concerns of today . . . through thrillingly clever, suspenseful and amusing plot twists."--New York Times Book Review
"Sprawling, irreverent, and ultimately profound."--Newsweek
"[O]ften brilliant and occassionally astonishing ...[QUICKSILVER] has wit, ambition and ... moments of real genius."--Book World
"An astonishing achievement."--Sunday Telegraph
"Dense, witty, erudite ... and gripping ... a far more impressive literary endeavor than most so-called "serious" fiction."--Independent
"[QUICKSILVER] is a rare thing: a 1,000-page book that you don't want to end.--San Antonio Express-News
"A sprawling, engrossing tale."--Seattle Times
Genius . . . You ll wish it were longer. --Time magazine"
[QUICKSILVER] explores the philosophical concerns of today . . . through thrillingly clever, suspenseful and amusing plot twists. --New York Times Book Review"
Sprawling, irreverent, and ultimately profound. --Newsweek"
A sprawling, engrossing tale. --Seattle Times"
Stephenson s new machine is a wonderment to behold. A- --Entertainment Weekly"
An astonishing achievement. --Sunday Telegraph"
[QUICKSILVER] is a rare thing: a 1,000-page book that you don t want to end.--San Antonio Express-News"
[O]ften brilliant and occassionally astonishing ...[QUICKSILVER] has wit, ambition and ... moments of real genius. --Book World"
[A]n awe-inspiring book, stuffed with heart-stopping action scenes ... and a treasure trove of forgotten historical lore. --Book"
Dense, witty, erudite ... and gripping ... a far more impressive literary endeavor than most so-called serious fiction. --Independent"
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Morrow / Hillhouse, 2004. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. No Jacket. Limited Edition.... New York: Morrow/Hillhouse . First edition. First printing. Hardbound. New, issued without dust jacket, in slipcase with "peekaboo" design. A pristine unread copy, very fine in all respects, flawless. Volume One of the Baroque Cycle. SIGNED BY AUTHOR, one of 1000 special editions produced by Hillhouse Publishing, in conjunction with Harper Collins. This is copy number 806. Gorgeous production. Limited to an edition of 1,000 copies-never to be reprinted. Completely redesigned from the trade hardcover in a larger format, 7" x 10". Each book numbered and signed by the author. Each volume hand-bound in Japanese silk. Each volume housed in a handsome slipcase featuring a die-cut aperture for the Quicksilver icon and covered in the same Japanese silk. The slipcase also features a silk ribbon pull for easy removal. Matching signed limited editions of the second and third volumes of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle were also published by William Morrow. This edition new, still in corrugated box that houses the slipcased edition. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # quick
Book Description William Morrow. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0060599332 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.1019781