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Oct 21, 2005 03:08 # 39731
A few weeks ago I've finished reading "The Years of Rice and Salt" by Kim Stanley Robinson. It's subtitled with "Image A World Without Europe". The story so far: "A vanguard of mongole horde rides west across the steppes into an eerily silent world. People lie dead in vlllages and in the streets of towns. The Black Death has struck Europe. There are virtually no survivors."
So the story unfolds like this: christianity nearly died out - only some few tiny places are left untoched by the plague. But this is only revealed later on - by now we only know that there are noone living in Europe anymore. So basically the Islam is going to inhabit those now empty places, the chinese is doing big conqueries like the spain would have done so if they hadnt died out before, the buddhists form alliances to avoid more slaughter and war, south africa is going to establish some kind of free zone for scientists and more (the League of Travancore) and even the original American citizens will found their own big american nation. The story goes on till short after some awful war that went on for more than 60 years, stopping somewhere around 2002 A.D. (by then 1423 A.H. / after Hegira).
This is just the basic story, but there is more to this: there are at least three threads of stories running through the whole history - so let's speak about the next one: there's some kind of reincarnation going on, people getting reborn in other times, sometimes living just a simple life, sometimes they're later on important persons, unavoidably meeting other persons they were together in ancient times - in their jitta, some kind of town community way back in Tibet (dated around 7000 B.C.). They always meet once again in the bardo, talk about their past lives and decide how to live their upcoming lifes (and more).
The third thread is about religion: starting with Islam, switching over to Buddhism and more - the author is trying to make peace with each single religion, forming a very different point of view of the Qoran, the holy bible and the buddhistic tradition. He tries to show up similarities in each religion, letting the characters of each specific part of the book interact more or less based on his theories...
A very very good read. Even the synopsis/abstract on the back of the book is very well written - it doesnt tell you too much about the story but already gets you hooked. ;)
The only annoying thing I could find was that during the first few chapters the author is unnerving you by ending each chapter with phrases like "Bold had heard the name, though he knew nothing about it. Neither do we, but to find out more, you can read the next chapter" or "How the rest of the voyage home went is not really material; nothing of note happened, they made it back safely, and what happened after that you can find out by reading the next chapter" - YESSSS, Mr. Smartass Wiseguy Robinson - what the hell do you think why I'm reading yer bloody book?!? Of course I will found out in the next chapter - else I'd throw it away and write very bad comments about it!
Probably the author either was getting into his style of writing or he added the first few chapters after he was already finished with the rest of the book.
beards are cool. every villain has one!
This post was edited by ginsterbusch on Oct 21, 2005.