February 08, 2006

Reading List: The Baroque Cycle

The Confusion
The System of the World
- by Neal Stephenson

The Good:
- manages to explain some interesting abstract ideas
- points out some really interesting etymologies*
- makes the era come alive for the reader

The Bad:
- 3000 pages, plus acknowledgements
- Doesn't have enough plot to fill that many pages (Although there is an interesting plot, and action. There just isn't enough, that's all.)

The Ugly:
- I love some of Neal Stephenson's other writings, but the best I can say about these, his largest works to date, is that they weren't bad enough for me to abandon before finishing them.

* For example, the word "mob", as in "a mob of people", was originally a contraction of "The Mobility", a term used to describe the random citizens who appear out of nowhere to watch fires and other urban catastrophes in progress, in deliberate contrast to "The Nobility". Apparently puns were just as annoying in the 1700s as they are today.


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