- Mass Market Paperback: 784 pages
- Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (June 3, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553580078
- ISBN-13: 978-0553580075
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 286 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Years of Rice and Salt: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 2003
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PRAISE FOR The Years of Rice and Salt
"Hugo winner Robinson follows three characters over seven centuries on an alternate Earth in which Islam and Buddhism are the dominant religions...Blessed with moments of wry and gentle beauty as friends and antagonists rediscover each other under different guises in exotically dangerous locales."
PRAISE FOR KIM STANLEY ROBINSON’S Red Mars WINNER OF THE NEBULA AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
“A tremendous achievement.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“An absorbing novel...a scientifically informed imagination of rare ambition at work.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“Promises to become a classic...This is epic science fiction in the best sense of the term–thoughtful, provoking, and haunting.”
–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Green Mars WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
“Dense as a diamond and as sharp; it makes even most good novels seem pale and insignificant by comparison.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“Has the breathtaking scope, plausible science and intellectual daring that made Red Mars a hit.”
–Daily News of Los Angeles
Blue Mars WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
“If I had to choose one writer whose work will set the standard for science fiction in the future, it would be KIM STANLEY ROBINSON. Blue Mars represents a breakthrough even from his own consistently high level of achievement....Beautifully written...a landmark in the history of the genre.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“A complex and deeply engaging dramatization of
–The Philadelphia Inquirer
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
With the incomparable vision and breathtaking detail that brought his now-classic Mars trilogy to vivid life, bestselling author KIM STANLEY ROBINSON boldly imagines an alternate history of the last seven hundred years. In his grandest work yet, the acclaimed storyteller constructs a world vastly different from the one we know....
The Years of Rice and Salt
It is the fourteenth century and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur-the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe's population was destroyed. But what if? What if the plague killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed? This is a look at the history that could have been-a history that stretches across centuries, a history that sees dynasties and nations rise and crumble, a history that spans horrible famine and magnificent innovation. These are the years of rice and salt.
This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world's greatest scientific minds-in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions and Christianity is merely a historical footnote.
Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry. Rewriting history and probing the most profound questions as only he can, Robinson shines his extraordinary light on the place of religion, culture, power, and even love on such an Earth. From the steppes of Asia to the shoresof the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.
"From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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This review is of a re-read. I am certain fans of KSR's Mars Trilogy ran into a brick wall with this alternate history where the plague decimated Christendom, leaving Buddhism and Islam the world's primary religions. It is a reflective, intensely personal work told through a group of individuals, or jati in Hindu, who progress together through reincarnations from the time of Mohammad until roughly present day.
Each time this group is reborn, they can and often are different genders and different places in the world, but always with a name that starts with the same initial. We are witness to great discoveries (that roughly map to our own history) or quiet reflection on spirituality, religion, god, man, and suffering. There is much religious commentary and one thing I appreciate is a strong thread that discusses the feminist underpinnings of Mohammad's original concept for Islam--and how men in power have altered and abused that thought for their own ends.
The book is lyrical, funny, frightening, and ultimately enlightening. KSR doesn't pull any punches, nor should he, and we get well-formed, well-informed characters and a story that is driven by their desire to make things better for themselves and the world.
I also like how KSR, after the demise of characters in a given situation, has them return to the bardo, a place where their acts in their most recent lives are judged before they are sent back--with no memory of who they were (mostly) -- to live again. In the bardo, it's always about next time we'll do better. But there is always a skeptic and a dreamer. My favorite line was, "We may be in a hallucination here, but that gives you no right to be delusional!"
The second read, as with most books, exposes a richness and it was so easy to settle in, like a well-worn leather chair. If you liked the Mars series for its hard science, you won't find it here. But you will find a very personal reflection on what it means to be human in this world. I think that's why I admire KSR so much, I can go from Galileo's Dream to 2312 to Shaman and enjoy each for what they are. He is a fine, fine writer.
In the Mars trilogy, I started out not really caring about the characters, they were just there to express the aspects of Mars, but by the end they had grown and developed and aged to the extend that I was surprised by the emotional connection I felt toward them. This could have happened in this book, because the characters are 'reincarnated' between sections. Yet the opposite occurred - I cared about them in the first few sections and was saddened by their demise as they went along ... but by the last few sections the characters were lost among more and more sections of dull philosophical musings and I found myself caring less and less about them.
I was also distracted by some of the conventions the author chose to adopt to give an alternative 'feel' to the universe. I couldn't follow the dates at all so I couldn't mentally compare the timeline to actual history. Continents, elements, weights and measures were given different names which confused me more than once. Some of this (like the timeline) was meant to be explained by figures in the book but I had the Kindle edition and it was very difficult/impossible to read them.
Years can also be viewed as a treatise on Buddhism and Islam as told through the lives of a set of characters who live through crucial periods of history when these world views come into conflict either with each other or with themselves in the long march of human history. What ties the ten books together is the reappearance or reincarnation of certain characters. Reincarnation is presented as real, even to the extent of chapters where characters who have just died converse with each other about their past and future lives, but its reality remains a matter of speculation rather than certainty in the lives of Robinson's reincarnated characters.
Years is not easy reading due to its length, subject matter and scope. My recommendation is to read it as part of a class or in a group that can meet and discuss on more than one occasion each of the books. The book is that rich.
Most recent customer reviews
and how Asia and Islamic countries rose to power as events over centuries unfolded.Read more
I do know that at the end of the book I had tears of joy in my heart. I highly recommend this.Read more