Reading update: “Quicksilver” ; “Austral”; “Norse Mythology”; & books-in-the-pipeline.

Continuing to read

Neal Stephenson’s “Quicksilver” (2003) which consists of three books.

Sci Fi / Historical fiction. Characters & central events of the  17th and early 18th centuries.
Very imaginative, rich in description, complex fictional characters, vivid and masterful re-imagining of history.

Book 1 “Quicksilver” :

The focus is on the college days and close friendship of the (fictional) Daniel Waterhouse and Isaac Newton. Historic characters: Newton, Hooke and Leibniz. Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy, reign of Charles II (1660).

Book 2 “King of the Vagabonds”:

The focus is on the fictional characters Eliza and Jack the Vagabond. Jack rescues Eliza from a Turkish harem in Vienna. As they flee from Vienna, and journey across Europe, they meet Leibniz and Enoch Root; and historical figures in the English/French/Dutch political power struggles.

Eliza’s story and her correspondence with Leibniz continue in the third book “Odalisque” .
Jack’s later adventures are chronicled in another Baroque Cycle book “The Confusion” , set ~ 18th century; Europe and the Mediterranean, India, the Philippines, Japan, and Mexico.

Currently reading Book 3: “Odalisque”

The major fictional characters are Daniel Waterhouse and Eliza; and the continued story of the historical figures Newton, Leibniz and Hooke.
James II succeeds  to the English  throne after the death of his brother Charles II. Daniel becomes an advisor to James II.

Completed reading

Paul McAuley “Austral” (c) 2017 

A fascinating novel of courage and survival in a changing Antarctica. Set in the near future, McAuley makes the story powerful and vivid by bringing together in a masterful way three strong elements: eco-fiction, sci fi and literary fiction.

The novel’s main character is a young woman, Austral Morales Ferrado. McAuley keeps  Austral’s own struggles and determination to survive connected closely to  Antarctica’s wilderness, and its changing land and seascapes, and ecological changes.

The novel is also about Austral’s  family, of ecopoets, and their role in creating new ecosystems adapted to changing conditions in the Antarctic as sea levels rise, and the glaciers retreat.

Austral’s parents were ecopoets, who voluntarily had their daughter genetically adapted, or “edited”, to survive in the Antarctica’s frigid and harsh environment. Austral is called a ‘husky’ and is treated as a monster, a second class citizen. But she is determined to live as other humans.

Austral grows up in a time when the Antarctic is becoming more industrialized. The original ecopoets find themselves pushed into the background, as petroleum, mining, and fishing industries dominate, and urban areas develop.


Currently reading

Neil Gaiman: “Norse Mythology” (c) 2017

Vivid re-imagining of the major Norse gods: Odin, Thor, and Loki. Gaiman’s excellent and masterful prose turns the telling of the myths into a novel…


Looking forward:

  • Madeline Miller: “The Song of Achilles” (c) 2012

  • George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, editors: “Old Venus” (c) 2015; 16 new stories written specifically for the anthology. Stories by Lavie Tidhar, Paul McAuley, David Brin, Elizabeth Bear …


ice burg floating on water during daytime
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