Quicksilver is so damned big. My god, it’s big. It’s 900 pages, and it’s really really big, and it’s the first volume of three.
And it’s Neal Stephenson, so you know it’s going to be even more wordy than that.
I’m about halfway through, thanks to an early shipment to a bookstore which will remain nameless. The book’s divided into thirds, more or less. The first third is Daniel Waterhouse’s story, which can in no way be considered to have a plot. Halfway through the second third, one character mentions the picaresque genre, in which a random character wanders through an interesting landscape without direction. That would be the first third of the book. Just to put a cherry on top of it, the story opens quite late in Waterhouse’s life, and then proceeds to tell us all about his earlier history in flashback. So no tension, unless you count the pirates.
Fortunately, the second third has characters who are actually going somewhere and experiencing difficulties getting there. I have hopes for the third portion. I note with some interest that all the characters mentioned on the bookflap are from the first two sections. I’m wondering if anyone has actually gotten to the third bit.
I’m also enjoying the hell out of the monster, of course. Stephenson is nothing if not informative, and the book is a prime example of what transfictionalism might have been if it had been invented centuries ago; it’s geek SF, just like Cryptonomicon, except that the geeks are seventeenth century mathematicians and alchemists. It’s utterly delightful. I love it.
Just it’s a good thing that I’ve already come to terms with the knowledge that Stephenson is not wedded to traditional narrative structures.