Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Reason and Rational Thought!

Happy Birthday, Reason and Rational Thought!

2009 marks the 350th year of the Royal Society, which has as good a claim as any as the birthplace of the Enlightenment. And if you're thinking to yourself, "wow, I should really write a novel based on that," well, Neal Stephenson beat you too it, writing not just a novel, but an entire series, The Baroque Cycle. It's a story in the seventeenth century about the Society and the beginnings of natural philosophy, coupled with global political intrigue and no small degree of sex. It includes Issac Newton; Leipzig; a captured whore's daughter who sleeps/cons her way into great wealth and power yet remains always admirable and becomes the leader of an anti-slave revolution; two orphaned brothers, one of whom becomes a straight-laced and highly-regarded military man, the other is Jack, the swashbuckling "King of the Vagabonds", who falls in love with the aforementioned whore's daughter; King Louis XVI (or was it the XIV?) of France, Britain's shadowy, unspeakably evil Star Chamber, a man named Enoch Root, who might or might not be an immortal wizard, the chase for the Philosopher's Stone, the Tower of London, the heist of a mammoth fortune from Arabia, clashes over religion, class, wealth, and, for good measure, the first kidney-stone removal.

Those who can do better that that are welcome to try.

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