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Mike Kletch

Indianapolis, IN USA
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  • Quicksilver

  • Book One of The Baroque Cycle
  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: Neal Stephenson (introduction), Kevin Pariseau, Simon Prebble
  • Length: 14 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2,960
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,107
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,137

In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues 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.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Be aware of what you're getting into

  • By David on 12-16-11

The Baroque Cycle is Stephenson's Masterwork

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-18

Stephenson's characters always leap off the page for me, but this recording in particular is wonderful. The narration and accents are not how I imagined when reading it from hardcopy, but that somehow makes them even more real; people I've encountered, not characters I've interpreted. This extends to the other books of the series as well. Audio quality is great, and the pacing of the performance is suitable for driving, multi-tasking, or simply listening.

No Stephenson book is a casual read - you have to engage it actively, or you'll be lost or confused. Some Baroque Cycle books are non-linear, and the audio volume Quicksilver is quite so. I also agree with other reviewers that the decision to split the cycle into more volumes than originally published was disappointing. I'm a die-hard Stephenson fan, however, and the production value is great, so I am personally undeterred. But the "split decision", as it were, is also unfortunate. I would otherwise suggest that people who find Quicksilver impenetrable should restart at King of the Vagabonds, to build some momentum. It's a similar approach to what I suggest for Tolkien's Silmarillion; i.e. skip to the middle your first time through. This is not likely to succeed if such a suggestion would require an additional purchase.

Similar to Cryptonomicon, the fictional characters are blended seamlessly with the fictionalized realizations of historical persons. This is even further realized in the Baroque Cycle. The main characters are funny, engaging, intelligent and/or clever (as appropriate), and relatable. Fictional events and sequences are woven through a fairly accurate depiction of this period in history. There is also a lot of detail into what it was actually like to live as a commoner or peasant at this time, so it might not be suitable for the squeamish. Disease, hygiene, urban planning...think of it as "old school". It's certainly immersive, and that much more vibrant for it.

For those interested in the history of math, science, commerce, and the evolution of European nations during this period, this series, and this book in particular, could be of great interest. I've encountered both the hardcopy and audio versions, and would wholeheartedly recommend either/both.

  • Cryptonomicon

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: William Dufris
  • Length: 42 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,813
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,760
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,785

Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fixed!

  • By Rob J. on 04-16-17

Quirky, geeky, hilarious, detailed...enthralling

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-26-17

A very dense, non-linear story with multiple threads spanning a seven-decade period. It can be technical in spots, but in others the dialogue carries you along like the snappy walk-and-talk from West Wing. Stephenson has a very distinctive style, which seems to elicit discrete love/hate reactions. If you like that sort of thing, you'll love this book.

The performance by Dufris is just wonderful. You can hear every character - even minor, passing "extras" - in a district way. I plan to look for other stories narrated by him.

There were a few technical glitches with the file; skips and bleeps that seemed like compression artifacts or file errors. But these were few.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful