I know there are lots of Neil Stephenson fans here, and elsewhere on the net. I also know that a lot of people who really like Stephenson don’t really get into his Baroque Cycle books - Quicksilver, The Confusion, and System of the World. So this thread is for the following groups of people:
1 - People who have read the Baroque Cycle, and want to discuss it.
2 - People who have tried, and gotten frustrated with it at various points and for various reasons (the first third of the first book, Quicksilver, seems to be the big culprit here), but would still like to know how things turned out
3 - People who are put off by the three immense volumes (2,700 pages in all) or the time period, but who’d like to know more, either to help them decide to read the books, or as a kind of Cliff Notes version.
There will be spoilers. If you’re concerned about that, back out now! Some of the discussion will probably touch on Cryptonomicon, as that book shares “universes” with the Baroque Cycle, including connections between families, themes, and even a shared character (maybe even more than one, actually).
Needless to say, I really enjoy these books. Stephenson ties up the ending in System of the World in what I found to be a very satisfying way, pulling almost all of the characters of the previous books into the events that end the Cycle, and wrapping it up with a nice bow. This is different from other Stephenson books - although I loved Cryptonomicon and Snowcrash, I felt their endings were a little on the weak side, kind of an afterthought. That’s not the case here, at all.
I can’t presume to answer the questions having to do with the science, but I’ll try!
So ask away!