Sunday, November 21, 2004

When Scientists Were Pirates

Cory Doctorow reviews Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle:

The historicity of these books is borderline alarming. Stephenson has researched so many goddamned interesting factoids about pirates, the birth off the monetary system, natural philosophy, alchemy, the court of the Sun King, the functioning of London's ancient prisons, the nature of sewage disposal in early metropolises, and many other diverse subjects that you can practically open the books to any page and find five cool trivia questions to baffle your friends with on e.g. long plane trips.

I'm about 250 pages through the first volume, Quicksilver and am looking forward to one day reading the whole trilogy, once Grad School is done and I can devote the time needed to fully emerse myself in these books. 2700 pages is a lot and each one is densely packed with information but they are worth the time and effort, especially if you have even a passing interest in the history of science. The Baroque Cycle is the Geek Ulysses, only unlike Ulysses, it's actually fun to read.

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