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September 25, 2003 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Quicksilver Metaweb is the companion wiki to Neal Stephenson's much anticipated new book. If you've found his home page a bit on the off-putting side, but you still had things you wanted to know, or maybe chitchat about, this is the place for you.
posted by jessamyn (11 comments total)

 
Heh. I was hoping to be able to read Quicksilver before delving into this... still waiting for US postal service! But thanks for the link. I'll probably waste a lot of time there.
posted by krewson at 9:33 AM on September 25, 2003


"I'll probably waste a lot of time there".

sadly, a perfect tagline for MetaFilter, too
posted by matteo at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2003


I'm buying this book TODAY. And now I have a companion! Thanks jessamyn!
posted by vito90 at 9:58 AM on September 25, 2003


I am on Page 290 something and I do like it, I hope it grows on me more however. Some of the political macinations of 1700's Europe bits are rough slogging (and I'm not history deficient in any sense). I imagine that this wiki joint might help me hold it in a larger context but I don't like to read and doodle around on the internet at the same time, maybe if I read enough of the entries they'll stick in my head for later. Stephenson is a show offy writer as it is, btw he does it well in fact, but there might be a little too much showing off this time.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:03 AM on September 25, 2003


Stephenson is a geek who writes books for other geeks. I don't know that it's really that he's a writer who shows off so much as he writes in details he finds interesting, and as a geek it's an ever-increasing body of subject matter.
posted by substrate at 10:26 AM on September 25, 2003


Damn homework! I got the book yesterday, but it'll have to wait 'til tomorrow night!
posted by Utilitaritron at 11:05 AM on September 25, 2003


Substrate,
No I don't mean the geeky parts, the facts, the math, the dorky jokes. I mean the actual tone of the writing, the complexity of the sentences and the depth and breadth of the plot.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:22 AM on September 25, 2003


OK (breathless) just got back from B & N where the clerk reported it's "flying off the shelf". For as big as it is, and hardcover too, it was only $24. Starting it tonight!
posted by vito90 at 12:27 PM on September 25, 2003


Re: Stephenson as showoff. What ambitious writer isn't? And what's precisely wrong with being a deliberate (or, in Stephenson's case, baroque) exhibitionist? Here's a man who's attempting to offer his own take on how "Natural Philosophy" (i.e., science) developed against the grain of "Unnatural Philosophy" (e.g., alchemy, religion) in a fictional narrative spanning around 3,000 pages. He's showing how geniuses functioned in such an environment, as well as how cryptography might have come into being because of what was laid down. He's juxtaposing this all against history, both real and deliberately invented (the Massachusetts Bay Colony Institute for the Tecknological Arts being a prime example). And if that weren't enough, he's also trying to keep his work functioning as a novel by including his customary action, zany humor, and, of course, those inner introverts as protagonists. Ambitious? You bet. A compelling novel? So far, at about Page 70, that's what it looks like. Not your usual novel? Absolutely, if schooling my ass in the basics of the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell and the consequences of the Interreugnum in order to understand the juxtaposition of the story is any indication.

I hate to be the bearer of "bad news," but reading an ambitious novel often requires you to doodle around. If you see a word you don't know, or you don't understand the context, you flip open a dictionary. If you see a reference that you aren't aware of, you flip open your reference books or you try to find a reliable information conduit on the Internet.

For what it's worth, it appears that Neal Stephenson is posting annotations to the Wiki site himself. This could actually represent the first time in which an author willingly went out of his way to annotate a book for his audience using the Internet. But, most importantly, it represents an author giving you a better boat ramp with which to launch your own private speedboats, putting you in direct contact with the specific sources Stephenson relied upon to deliver his perspective. Who knew that Wiki would be used by an author to get people considering the context? And it's not the first time that Stephenson has had some fun with his readers.
posted by ed at 1:34 PM on September 25, 2003


In the unlikely event that anyone is able to solve the Enoch Root mystery, let me know.

(I ran out to Borders to read the first 60 pages of Quicksilver today, and, based on that, I'm going with the time travel theory, as opposed to the philosopher's stone theory)
posted by gsteff at 2:28 PM on September 25, 2003


i am sitting in a cryptography class reading about stephenson instead of trying to pay attention..how wierd is that
posted by nish01 at 5:32 PM on September 25, 2003


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