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'Quicksilver' Website and Release Date 210

EvilBastard writes "Neil Stephenson's next book in the Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver, now has a publishing date of the 23rd of September, 2003. This book appears to follow the Shaftoe, Waterhouse and Root family line back to the early 18th Century. You can find a short extract online."
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'Quicksilver' Website and Release Date

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  • The website says that the Baroque Cycle is about to begin... how is this the "next book"?
  • by TheOneEyedMan ( 151703 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:13PM (#5919373)
    He wrote:
    Snow Crash
    Diamond Age
    In the Beginning was the Command Line
    Zodiac plus two more books under a pen name.
    Great author of a few geek clasics, with great insight into modern issues.
  • by A Proud American ( 657806 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:14PM (#5919376)
    I recommend the following:

    Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

    Signal to Noise by Eric S. Nylund

    Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

  • sounds interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:17PM (#5919403) Homepage
    I heard Stephenson give a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University on Thursday of last week, where he discussed this novel. It sounded very interesting, albeit a departure from his normal science fiction type novels. He discussed what he considered to be the "soap opera" of the Newton-Leibniz controversy regarding the invention of calculus, which spread to other areas. Eventually this led up to a description of Leibniz's ideas metaphysics, which he regards as highly relevant in regards to computer science, cellular automata, and quantum physics. His descriptions of these events were slightly convoluted but that was part of their charm, and while I expected some type of discussion of technology or Snow Crash / Cryptonomicon type topics, I was pleasantly surprised to hear his 18th century tangent. He's a very talented and fascinating man.

    On a side note, he mentioned that he only speaks about once every five years and that he's very anti-social. He said his books are not a social process and come entirely from him, as opposed to including feedback from others. Still, I'm glad to have this man off in his little corner of the world thinking and researching about fascinating topics, broadcasting his findings to the rest of us.
    • Did his speech start out incredibly detailed and textured, only to accelerate about halfway through? At that point was he only sketching out ideas rather than exploring them? Did it get faster and faster until he ended suddenly with an unfinished sentence, quickly walking off the stage, leaving everyone to wonder about the details?

      I enjoy his books, but his tendancy to "accelerate" makes me think that he gets bored with them far sooner than I do.

  • That was one long, dull, trudge. I thought it might have made a good 300pager but it had more padding than story. What's his other stuff been like?


    • IIRC, you could stun small woodland creatures with Snow Crash, but it was fun reading. Zodiac and Diamond Age were moderately-sized but also fun reading. I think Crypto is the size of all the rest of his works put together.

      The biggest complaint of his books is he doesn't know how to end. You're reading along and then the book ends. It's far too sudden.
    • Not his best (Score:2, Insightful)

      by frenchgates ( 531731 )
      I have to agree, I found Snow Crash and Diamond Age hard to put down, but Cryptonomicon hard to pick back up.

      I actually abandoned it about 3/4 of the way through, finding it, as you said, just too long for the content and a little silly.

      One of my biggest complaints about SnowCrash and Diamond Age is that he starts with great characters and premises and then crashes them into these global apocalyptic endings that are a bit ludicrous.
    • Funny how different people react to Stephenson's books. I found the first part of Snow Crash brilliant, the rest tedious, and wasn't really able to make it through the rest of his books - they seemed uninspired and arbitrary.

      That being said, I read Cryptonomicon pretty much cover-to-cover in a week or so. I though the story hung together *much* better than in any of his previous works. The covergent story arcs were both pretty interesting (the WWII business, esp. with Goto Dengo, much more so), and alt

    • I thought it might have made a good 300pager but it had more padding than story

      Well, Cryptonomicon isn't SF, where "story" is the only thing important. Really, outside genre paperbacks (like SF, mystery, and romance -- the descendants of the 1920's pulps), "story" is pretty unimportant compared to style and mood, just like modern art isn't about making a photographic quality painting of Aunt Edna, but rather a study of form and color.

  • by 1984 ( 56406 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:19PM (#5919419)
    OK, so this is pretty close to trolling, but will the wrap up of the story and finale be done well this time round?

    In Snow Crash, The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon there was a sense of something epic building all the way through that didn't really pay off. More of shame because he spins such an excellent yarn, and his writing is very engaging. But don't (please) pop the balloon just to bring the book to a conclusion.

    • Whenever I suggest that someone read one of his books, I warn them, "Nobody has ever accused Neil Stephenson of being able to finish a book well."
    • I agree completely that none of those books had a decent ending. However, I was quite satisfied with the ending of Interface which he published under the pseudonym Stephen Bury. I'm not sure how much his uncle (apparently partly responsible for the book) contributed to that.
    • OK, so this is pretty close to trolling, but will the wrap up of the story and finale be done well this time round?

      Naturally! The new books are part of what he's calling the Baroque Cycle, so he's just obeying the old edict:

      "If it ain't Baroque, don't finish it."
    • I think the problem is that these books all need sequels. They are more like a slice of time than a real story and as we all know real life doesn't just converge into satisfactory endings. I never really minded as I'd much rather see more of the story than an ending. I liked how he tied Snow Crash into The Diamond Age without actually making them a continuation of the same story.
  • by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:21PM (#5919436)
    I don't expect much in the way of correct spelling, good grammar, and typos here on slashdot, and I make plenty of these mistakes myself. But when I'm paying north of $20 for a hardback book, like Cryptonomicon, I really expect to see the work of a professional editor. This book was filled with typos and even spell-checker kinds of errors (e.g. cannon vs canon). Never mind the perl code in the book which lost all newlines. It appeared that the manuscript had just been run through a spell checker, then sent to the printer. Can we expect better for this go around?
    • I agree. I just bought Zodiac, and while it was a good read, there were several cases of misspellings (Bone instead of the character Boone) and a few places where words were simply dropped. I find that mistakes like that detract from the flow of the story because I have to go back and reread the paragraph to see if I had simply parsed the sentence incorrectly. When that happens, my mind had already lost the flow of the previous pages.
      • I've been reading OCR'd books on my Zaurus. Once you do that, and get used to seeing (and reading correctly) stuff like "dean" instead of "clean", you realize how much redundancy there really is in English.

        No wonder it compresses so well.

        So don't be whinging to me about a missing "o". :)

    • I don't expect much in the way of correct spelling, good grammar, and typos here on slashdot, and I make plenty of these mistakes myself. But when I'm paying north of $20 for a hardback book, like Cryptonomicon, I really expect to see the work of a professional editor. This book was filled with typos and even spell-checker kinds of errors (e.g. cannon vs canon).

      Its rare to find a book without at least half a dozen typos, spelling errors or bad typesetting. And yet for all the years I've been reading, I'

    • He addressed both of these issues several years ago. From the Contact Info section on his homepage [well.com]:

      If you want to tell me about typographical errors in Cryptonomicon, thank you, but don't bother. I am aware that the book has many typos. The publisher and I are trying to fix as many as we can in a subsequent printing.

      And from his Crytonimicon FAQ [well.com]:

      12. Why does the perl script on p. 480 have funny-looking line breaks?

      The printed novel is one of several distribution media for the Solitaire perl script, a
    • and even spell-checker kinds of errors (e.g. cannon vs canon)

      A spell checker would not catch that error. "Cannon" and "canon" are both legitimate English words. Read more here [bartleby.com].

      • A spell checker would not catch that error

        That's the point -- there was a point in the book where one was used where the other should have been (I forget which). Any reasonable editor would have caught the error, but it looked to me like the book was just run through a spell-checker and sent to the printer.

  • by Repugnant_Shit ( 263651 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:22PM (#5919446)
    Even in the the 1700s the Shaftoes were some bad mutha-
  • by tskirvin ( 125859 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:39PM (#5919561) Homepage
    In case you're interested, I've also got a page up of Neal Stephenson's short work [killfile.org], fiction and non-fiction.
    BTW, this book is the first book of three in Baroque Cycle, and they'll be released at six month intervals. So says HarperCollins.
    • That's because Stephenson wrote a several thousand page monster of a manuscript, and the folks at HarperCollins had to cut it down to a marketable length. I read an 1100 page version of Volume 1 last fall. Like Cryptonomicon, it's got some great bits, fascinating characters, and some interesting digressions, but the overall structure of the story needed some editing to make it more coherent. I'm curious to see what the 'final' product is like this September.
  • by thedude13 ( 457454 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:42PM (#5919589)
    fyi, he's speaking at the Usenix [usenix.org] Technical Conference on June 12th as the keynote speaker. he's going to talk about this new book and some other things. luckily, i'll be there =)
  • by Sabu mark ( 205793 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @12:49PM (#5919626)
    Three thoughts:

    1. The "period-ness" of the novel may surpass the "geek-ness." This is a tad disappointing.

    2. I'm rather indifferent to the genealogical links between these characters and Cryptonomicon's. I mean, the characters in Cryptonomicon were pretty good, but it's not as if they were so fabulously conceived that I said "Goddamn, I wish I could read an entire cycle of books about their ancestors!" But Stephenson obviously has affection for them, so whatever helps him write is okay by me.

    3. I also suspect the idea of a "cycle" of books arose from his experience writing (and attempting to end) Cryptonomicon. I suppose it's easier to write an ending if it needn't be the ultimate ending. And also, if he found himself generating more than a thousand pages once again, it was probably better to partition them into several volumes and write as much as wanted, rather than form the immense tome that Cryptonomicon became and be forced to cut the story off somewhat abrupty.
  • I read Cryptonomicon a year or so ago and loved it, and also really liked Snow Crash. So I went to check out one of William Gibson's books and found that Idoru was the only one at my local library. I checked it out, but after a couple of chapters I gave up. It just didn't impress me.

    My question is, is Idoru considered to be among Gibson's best work? If not, what's the best introduction to his style?

    • Generally, if you ask around most people seem to agree that the earlier stuff such as Neuromancer is his better work. Personally, I thought that Idoru was more of the same - good writing, but nothing new.

      My local bookstore's taking ages to get Pattern Recognition in stock, but apparently William Gibson's back on form. Go try it out - you might like it more than Idoru.

      Also, of course, Idoru was the second in a trilogy, and you might have unknowingly had problems following the plot...check this [antonraubenweiss.com] out for mo
    • Idoru is the second book of Gibson's "Bridge Trilogy". (Virtual Light, Idoru, All Tomorrows's Parties)

      On its own, I imagine a reader would be somewhat lost.

      As a whole, I think the trilogy is stellar.
    • I had the same response to Idoru. Ditto Neuromancer and The Difference Engine. He has interesting ideas, boring prose. And everything seems to fall apart near the end.
    • I would look at Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, Gibson's first Trilogy. Or if you want some different samples of his work, check out Burning Chrome, which is where the movie Johnny Mnemonic came from.

      I really like the scenery Gibson paints in Neuromancer and Count Zero, but I have read most of his works (not All Tomorrows Parties or Difference Engine, or the newest one he was working on) and I enjoyed all of them.

      • Nit: 'Johnny Mnemonic' was a short story in the collection entitled 'Burning Chrome'. The title story was originally published in Omni, was my first introduction to Gibson, and kicked ass IMHO. I think it would make a great screenplay.

        'New Rose Hotel', also a story from BC, was also movified. Don't waste the rental fee.

    • What the hell, my 2 cents:

      The Gibson story I most enjoyed was "Johnny Mnemonic". (Don't bother with the lame movie though) I might not have liked it as much if I hadn't already met Molly in Neuromancer.

      Besides that there's more good stuff in Burning Chrome if you like short stories. For novels I'd go with the cannonical answer of Neuromancer, Count Zero (2 out of 3 plotlines anyway), and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Actually, I thought he was coasting a bit in Mona, rehashing the same themes and charachters fr
  • OMFG, the /. editors let a misspelling of NEAL Stephenson through.

  • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @01:05PM (#5919754) Homepage Journal
    Stephenson has a great mind, no doubt. The mind is backed by a tremendous ego. This is important for a writer, otherwise they become too hash of a self critic and no book ever sees the press. However, and editor is usually the devil's advocate against the writer's ego, challenging and filtering concepts so what comes out the end doesn't seem like a long UseNet pos. I don't know who is doing Stephenson's editing, but they need to be a bit more foreceful with him: for one, cutting out more. How many pages were spent describing breakfast cereal in Cryptonomicon? This is up there with John Galt's forty page speech in Atlas Shrugged, in terms of Too Much. It's a difficult task, writing less, it is like writing really tight, optimized code. It's a skill that Stephenson, or his editors, need to acquire. Along with better proofreaders for spelling and grammar.

    In spite of all this criticism, I do enjoy his works.
    • Yeah, I know, _I_ need an editor/proofreader. Two typos, I guess my fingers aren't hitting the keys hard enough:

      s/too hash/too harsh/
      s/UseNet pos/UseNet post/

      On the other hand, at least you don't have to pay for my far from perfect wordsmithery.
    • I agree that Stephenson needs and editor and a whole team of proofreaders, but I thought the breakfast cereal scene was hilarious. Along with the Eschaton chapter in Infinite Jest, it's one of my favorite comedy pieces in literature.
      • (shrug) Maybe one of the reasons why I was bored with it was because I don't like breakfast cereal. In any case, there's a lot of places where he strays off course enough that the book becomes overly large. I can read pretty fast and will stay up all night reading a book that excites me, but still this one got bogged down a few times.
  • Shucks (Score:3, Funny)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @01:11PM (#5919819) Homepage Journal
    ..Neil Stephenson's next book in the Baroque Cycle...

    And here I sit, out of Monet.

    Baroque of course, from trying to keep up with all the excellent books by David Drake (Hammers Slammers fame)
  • I almost thought there was a story about surfing on /.


    You know, water, sand, sun and all that outdoors stuff.

  • by Jack Wagner ( 444727 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @01:34PM (#5920052) Homepage Journal
    Neal's research staff contacted me two years ago and I did some minor work for him, via email (I never met him so don't go all crazy and ask for details) and was paid very well, considering it was research for a book.

    Neal's a pretty sharp guy but he outsources a lot of his research to proffesionals (makes sense) and has several staff people help him put the pieces together, as it were.

    I offered my services as part of the FTEST (final tech editing service team) but Neal didn't want a computer pundit as much as he was looking for science pundits. Ah well, at least now I'm in his rolodex and hopefully I'll get more chances to work with him.

    Warmest regards,

    • Your consulting firm's name reminded me of something that made me chuckle. Way back when, when I was doing consulting, WAGNER was a popular acronym. You've probably heard SWAG (Some Wild-Ass Guess), right? Well, we were always toying with the idea of citing WAGNER Research somewhere in a report, hoping nobody would make us admit that it stood for Wild-Ass Guess Not Easily Refuted.
  • by ilsie ( 227381 ) on Friday May 09, 2003 @01:42PM (#5920146)
    The first time I read "Cryptonomicon", I was slightly put out by how long and drawn out many of the passages and descriptions were. So I ended up reading the whole thing but sort of skimming over some of what I thought was less important stuff.

    Imagine my suprise when, two year later, I picked up the book and decided to read through it again. I can't believe how much I missed the first time through. Sure, not all of it has everything to do with the storyline, but it's all entertaining, and quite funny in many places.

    The best example I can (sorta) remember is when the younger Waterhouse is at the estate of his newly deceased grandmother, and all the relatives are trying madly to get the best inheritance. Waterhouse devises a formula that gets him what he wants. The whole scene had very little to do with the storyline, but it was great to read, and I'm glad he put it in there.

    If you want short and to the point, go see a movie. Also, you dont know long and drawn out unless you've read the unabridged "Les Miserables."
    • It had a *lot* to do with the story line, or at least the character development!

      The scene (in which Randy's older relatives determine who gets what family heirloom by taking each piece and laying it on a huge x-y / sentimental-monetary value axis) lets the reader know just how the nerdiness seen in L.P. Waterhouse (the grandfather, inventor of the computer) is 'genetically' carried down to Randy (hacker extraordinaire) via his older relatives (mathematicians and scientists, all).

      But more importantly (if y

  • Neal Stephenson's writing style apes Thomas Pynchon quite a bit. Pynchon's last book was Mason & Dixon, which took place in the 1700's and was written in a faux-18th century style of writing. Neal's author biography on the Quicksilver website is written in a similar style.

    Fortunately, the preview of the book isn't written like that. Last thing I want to do is slug through another 800 pages of "picnicks" and other arbitrary 18th century capitalization and spelling choices. At least Pynchon didn't al
    • Neal Stephenson's writing style apes Thomas Pynchon quite a bit.

      I've heard a lot of people say this, so I tried to read Gravity's Rainbow.

      I had to give up for a bit. It was like reading Neal Stephenson while drunk. Very, very drunk. Hit on your Henry Rollins-lookalike coworker's sister while your wife is standing in the same room drunk.
      • it was a lot better the second time around because I had a better memory of who the different characters were and who did what and why. You just have to read it really slowly (with a dictionary at hand, preferably), and probably several times through. On the first read it was tough to pick out the narrative threads that advance the story and seperate them from the passages that just sort of describe wartime/aftermath conditions in general. Also, the jumps between storylines and descriptions and thoughts
  • If Cryptonomicon as any indication, I'll probably need to work out to hold the book up.

    I'm about 200 pages from the end of Cyrptonomicon and have really enjoyed it. I was surprised at first at the lack of sci-fi stuff, but Neal is such a good writer I don't miss it at all.

    A pitty Gen. D McArthur won't be in the new one - I love the way his character is written.
  • I'm looking forward to this one.

    When NS is on a roll, he's in the same league with Mark Twain, and that's saying something.

    Example - his chapter in Crypto regarding the Vickers gun and the huge buzz saw.

    HOWEVER - his endings blow, and some plot threads don't stand up.

    Example - Diamond Age where the engineer writes/creates the computer book to train little girls. Where'd HE get the writing power to do that? Also, political correctness is evident, where's the book to train little boys?

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev