Talk:Quicksilver (novel)

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Good article Quicksilver (novel) has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
April 3, 2010 Good article nominee Listed
April 8, 2010 Featured article candidate Not promoted
Current status: Good article
WikiProject Novels (Rated GA-class, Mid-importance)
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Have we decided not to give a plot overview? And apparently in the Confusion Dappa is said to have come from Nigeria, but there was a mention of Angolan ancestry somewhere in QUicksilver?

Why cant we have a plot summary? The first time i read this article I was a bit lost... Apart from a list of characters there is no indication of what the novel is actually about. The Nouv 17:48, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

The Metaweb (the Quicksilver Wiki mentioned in the article) is under the same license as the Wikipedia, namely the GNU Free Documentation License. This means that it is OK to copy text from the Metaweb to the Wikipedia (and vice versa). --Zippy

My edits of August 2004 are based on my impressions as I read through the book for the first time. I may be well off the mark in my interpretations, so if anyone has a higher insight as to what the book is about, please jump right in and correct me. Tim Shell, 12 Aug 2004


revolving around characters, such as Isaac Newton, who are not distinguished in any obvious way from the corresponding historical figures.

I'm not sure what this means, so I expunged it. -- Tim Shell, 8 Aug 2004

Well Newton in the book is basically the same as Newton in real life except for his interaction with the ficitional characters. 09:12, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

not a trilogy[edit]

Neal Stephenson did not want his novels to be thought of as a trilogy. They shouldn't be called "Baroque Trilogy" as done in the article. Stephenson has titled the The Baroque Cycle. --Phoebus 00:03, 20 Mar 2004 (UTC)

  • Here is what Neal Stephenson had to say on the matter over on the Metaweb. Armaced 15:57, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC) "Why Baroque? Because it is set in the Baroque, and it IS baroque. Why Cycle? Because I am trying to avoid the T-word ("trilogy"). In my mind this work is something like 7 or 8 connected novels. These have been lumped together into three volumes because it is more convenient from a publishing standpoint, but they could just as well have been put all together in a single immense volume or separated into 7 or 8 separate volumes. So to slap the word "trilogy" on it would be to saddle it with a designation that is essentially bogus.

Having said that, I know everyone's going to call it a trilogy anyway. "

Paperback edition[edit]

When will the paperback edition of Quicksilver be published? - Bevo 20:51, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)

October 2004 according to a website I just found. - Bevo 22:02, 10 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Jack Ketch[edit]

I gather from the book's appendix that no one of the "Jack Ketch"s referred to in the text is the historical Jack Ketch, but that the characters simply use the epithet as a synonym for "hangman," as we'd use "John Hancock" or "Davey Jones" today. Anyone with textual support is welcome to add it here and put "Jack Ketch" back in the list of historical figures. --Quuxplusone 23:36, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

"Ben" cannot be a young Ben Franklin[edit]

In the list of actual historical figures, there is a mention to a young Ben Franklin. The books are set during the English Civil War and the reign of Charles II and one of the James', say about 1677 to the 1680's. There is no possible way that this could be Ben Franklin.

I am new to wiki, so I didn't want to just edit the article without discussing it first.

Any reason why the reference to 'Ben' should not be removed? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:15, 21 March 2007 (UTC).

The part in which Ben appears is set in 1713. —Andux 02:10, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:NealStephenson Quicksilver.jpg[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

Image:NealStephenson Quicksilver.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.BetacommandBot 23:24, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

A short peer review[edit]

Hi, an editor asked me for some suggestions on bringing this article toward GA status. So here's what I think:

1. The plot summary is by far the largest part of the article. A long one would be expected for such a long book, though it needs to be balanced with other material.

2. The lead discusses Quicksilver's relation to the later volumes in the series. This is important information, and there probably should be a section dealing with it. The lead however must summarise and introduce the article. Perhaps a "background" section?

3. Suggested section: Composition and publication. Given the length of the work and the scope of its ambition there must surely be interesting information to relate on the writing. Changing between discussing the "cycle", "volume" "novels" and "parts" and then further splits when printed for paperback is confusing to a reader unfamilar with the subject. Put this in a publication history sub-section.

4. Themes is very short and weak for such a long work of historical fiction. How does the author's treatment of historical events differ from the history books? What does he aim to teach the reader?

5. Style could again be longer and perhaps use better sources. More explanation of the literary methods used to develop the project.

6. Sources are insufficient. The complete review lists several reviews, more should be used here. I know it is hard writing articles about relatively new novels that have not been the subject to academic research yet.

7. Critical Reception poorly written and bitty.

I don't mean to sound overly negative, but these are the weaknesses of the article as I see it know. I congrulate all on taking on such an ambitous subject as this, again especially when there is relatively little published about it. Be sure to avoid using fan websites and other wikis.

Best of luck, believe me, --Ktlynch (talk) 20:15, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Thanks.Sadads (talk) 05:24, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Think I fixed most of these. Sadads (talk) 23:08, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Quicksilver (novel)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: ✽ Juniper§ Liege (TALK) 13:43, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

I shall be undertaking the review of this article against the Good Article criteria, per its nomination for Good Article status. ✽ Juniper§ Liege (TALK) 13:43, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Quick fail criteria assessment[edit]

  1. The article completely lacks reliable sources – see Wikipedia:Verifiability.
  2. The topic is treated in an obviously non-neutral way – see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view.
  3. There are cleanup banners that are obviously still valid, including cleanup, wikify, NPOV, unreferenced or large numbers of fact, clarifyme, or similar tags.
  4. The article is or has been the subject of ongoing or recent, unresolved edit wars.
  5. The article specifically concerns a rapidly unfolding current event with a definite endpoint.

Article passes quick-fail criteria. Main review to follow. ✽ Juniper§ Liege (TALK) 14:35, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Main review[edit]

  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose):
    • Well written.
    b (MoS):
    • Conforms to manual of style. Slight overlinking, but fixed.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references):
    • Well referenced.
    b (citations to reliable sources):
    • Citations are to third party publications.
    c (OR):
    • No evidence of OR.
  3. It is broad in its scope.
    a (major aspects):
    • Addresses major aspect of article subject matter.
    b (focused):
    • Remains focused. No digressions.
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy:
    • No issues concerning POV evident.
  5. It is stable:
    • No edit wars etc.
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales):
    • Images are properly tagged and justified.
    b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    • Images are accompanied by contextual captions. Alt text added
  7. Overall:
    Pass/Fail: PASS ✽ Juniper§ Liege (TALK) 14:46, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Suggestions for improvement[edit]

Moved from Sadads' user page:

Hi Sadads!

- Decided to respond here instead of the article talkpage. Hope that's okay.

- I've read most of the article (to be honest, it's been on my watchlist for months, but I got caught up with Hemingway instead) and am pleased to see the development. Some points to consider: plot could use some trimming (excruciatingly difficult in a work this size) so the reader isn't greeted with a wall of text. In my view, the best way to do this would be to present only the most important plot developments. On the other hand, the themes section could use some development. I haven't had a chance to see what's available critically, or whether scholarly sources exist, but by now I'd expect criticism to exist in more than the popular press. Trying to find a Publisher's Weekly review would be helpful. Finally, try to avoid falling into Stephenson's prose style by using 17th century capitalization rules (i.e. Science, Mathematics, etc.). Will return with more. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 20:00, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Couldn't find anything in Publisher's Weekly and expanded criticism section and cut plot since. Sadads (talk) 23:45, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
If you have access to databases try a search on Baroque cycle. I see at least three entries from Publishers Weekly for Quicksilver and more than one from Kirkus. These publications are excellent for reviews and also in explaining the odd publishing history of separating a single volume into three. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 00:37, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Also try google news archives. Here's a sample of one of three reviews from Slate. [1] Apparently either Time or Newsweek also wrote about the Stephenson. Don't forget to check for scholarly articles as well. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 00:51, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Already have those, and their aren't any articles in Muse or JSTOR, and Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus both reinforce already moot points from reviews. Sadads (talk) 01:05, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Didn't realize you had the Salon piece already. Sorry about that. I do believe that WP:NOVSTY encourages industry sources if they are available, but will go check again. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 01:21, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, meant already have one of the solon articles. I don't think the Leonard adds much, it just reinforces. That is the problem I am having with most reviews: the sound like the same thing over and over again. Sadads (talk) 01:33, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
That's most likely true with a work like this. The trick is to read carefully and pick out the bits that are different. Also, I noted that you have trade paperback as the separate editions. A trade paperback is larger in size (almost hardback size) than a mass market paperback. I have the first edition, so don't know whether the paperbacks are trade or mass market, but check to see whether you have it correct (this btw is the reason for industry journal sources). Truthkeeper88 (talk) 01:39, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Copyedit findings & summary[edit]

I have taken on a copyedit of this article in response to Sadads' direct request to me. As of this morning I have made a first pass through the Quicksilver section under the Plot heading. Since I have not read Quicksilver and have no prior knowledge of the book, I have a very objective approach to the copyedit. That said, I have come across a few points that need to be clarified or developed in the Plot/Quicksilver section:

  • Drake dies atop his house when it is destroyed for the firebreak and in the next sentence Daniel is lecturing at Cambridge with Newton - it feels like there is a transition missing here.
  • A flashforward occurs regarding an attack by Blackbeard though the description immediately following returns to the past. It is not clear how the flashforward is connected with the past event.
  • Who is the Oldenburg character detained by the king? It is assumed the reader knows.
  • How does Daniel become secretary of the Royal Society and what is it? How is he suddenly a prominent actor within the Society?
  • in 1673 Daniel becomes an escort - what kind? Then what qualifies him to become an architect? He seems to take on various roles with no explanation.

I will resume the first pass copyedit in the next day or so as schedule permits. I will follow it with a second pass after the points I raise have been addressed. Thanks and happy to help! -- Dtgriffith (talk) 15:37, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Fixed these, sorry it took so long. Sadads (talk) 00:23, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
No problem, these fixes make a big difference and look good. I spent some time earlier today on this copy edit and plan to do some more tonight or tomorrow. Dtgriffith (talk) 02:34, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

New findings to be reviewed and clarified in the Odalisque section. There are some confusing details surrounding Eliza's return to Versaille.

  • She informs William of what troop movement?
  • What is the "flight" that is referred to when Eliza becomes pregnant? Is she fleeing from someone or somewhere?

I will resume the copyedit in the next few days as my schedule permits. - Dtgriffith (talk) 03:39, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

I have finished my first pass of copy edits. I will return in the next few days to run through a second time, aiming to catch any details I might have missed or to revisit some awkward language/concepts with a fresh point-of-view. Dtgriffith (talk) 01:58, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Need to check reference[edit]

Fixed URL, same reviewer, same book, different day. Sadads (talk) 15:55, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Finished second pass of copy edit[edit]

Sadads, regarding the word "CABAL" showing in all-caps, please refer to MOS:ALLCAPS. Though Stephenson takes liberties in his writing style within his books, including the usage of capitalization as mentioned in this article, we need to conform Wikipedia's Manual of Style. I even did some further research for the Cabal Ministry on the web and did not find a precedent for displaying it in all-caps. Therefore, I am returning the word to the proper lowercase form.

Now that I have finished two passes on the major copy edit please review the article and let me know if you feel it meets your satisfaction. Also, please refer to my earlier findings for Odalisque shown above that are still outstanding. I am happy to continue to watch and make further contributions to this article as it continues to develop to become a candidate for Featured Article. Thanks. – dtgriffith (talk) 01:41, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, you are doing a very good job. I certainly will reexamine to make sure everything is what I meant. I have been giving myself a small break from the article. Next couple days I should relook at it.Sadads (talk) 04:06, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
I just wanted to add about the issue of CABAL: the two of you are both correct and incorrect. Dtgriffith is correct to move to lower-case per policy; and Sadads is correct that Stephenson wrote it in caps. Stephenson does this because in Quicksilver CABAL is an acronym. Once the meaning of the acronym is added to the term, then it should be changed back to caps. For now, however, I'd suggest leaving as is. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 20:53, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
The current meaning of cabal (see Cabal#Association with Charles II and the main article Cabal Ministry) derive from an acronym as well. WP:ALLCAPS does say that it's appropriate to keep acronyms as all uppercase except when "the acronym gains common usage as an ordinary, lowercase word (such as scuba and laser)". I believe that is the case here, especially since all of our articles on cabals use lowercase throughout. See Cabal (disambiguation), for example. Wyatt Riot (talk) 22:47, 26 April 2010 (UTC)
Thank you both for the clarification on Cabal. All these years of seeing the word I had not realized it was originated as an acronym, which I had inadvertently missed on the main article. – dtgriffith (talk) 01:39, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
When I read it myself, I thought it was just another example of Stephenson's sometimes random sense of humor.  :) Wyatt Riot (talk) 01:53, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Sorry but I think in this case Stephenson trumps MOS. When the term CABAL first originated back in C17 is had not entered the linguistic mainstream as a lowercase word in its own right. And since this book is set in (mainly) C17, it seems appropriate to keep the rendition of this term as Stephenson intended. He put it in caps for a reason - that reason was: at the time it had not entered common usage. --Matt Westwood 07:48, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree. But the acronym should be defined with the names of the people who make up the CABAL. The CABAL is very important, not only to this book, but to the rest of the series. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 11:42, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I have seen similar discussions like this about style and the consensus has been that we are not writing from within the universe the piece of fiction is set, we are writing for the current day real world audience. I agree with Truthkeeper88, if you are defining the CABAL using it as an acronym, then by all means go with the uppercase. Look at Laser as a reference for how this has been handled, though the focus of defining CABAL already exists on its own article page which is linked from this article. – dtgriffith (talk) 14:20, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I think the page Cabal represents how the historical acronym changes to present meaning. So I think we can have all agreed that it is used as an Acronym?
And, Truthkeeper, I think that the CABAL, which mimics the actual CABAL ministry dies out in the first book after the death of Charles II, while the cabal which Jack is part of forms at the beginning of The Confusion. Stephenson is using wordplay methinks. Sadads (talk) 14:38, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I really don't want to have to wade through all 900 pages of the book, but he clearly mentions the names of the Cabal. Here is a source where he states his CABAL is based on Charles II's cabal (see paragraph 170). The one cabal leads to the next - and although I don't think he's using wordgames, I can see how it could be interpreted as such. The function of the cabal in the novel is to demonstrate how a small group of people can rule a nation, a group of pirates, etc. There's a message within the message. Stephenson addresses important political, economic, and scientific issues not to be minimized in any article about this book for it to be considered a comprehensive article. As to the the spelling, on thinking about it, Dtgriffith's logic is good - we don't use upper-case for SCUBA though it's an acronym. Best to avoid Stephenson's Barocke Spellings. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 15:48, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I am not saying that the CABAL (Cabal ministry) is unimportant (though the reviews don't deal with it, it would make a very interesting academic study if anyone has the patience to work with it.). I am just saying that Jack's cabal (the ring of thieves who steal the Spanish gold) is distinctly different and is the one which effects later parts of the plot, and you may be confusing the two. Sadads (talk) 17:07, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
I think we should follow similar articles (like Laser and Scuba diving, for example) and mention that it originated as an acronym and explain the background (all very briefly because I don't remember it being tremendously important in the grand scheme of things) and then continue to use it in lowercase as suggested by WP:ALLCAPS. Like it or not, we have a Manual of Style that dictates how we write, and it is not trumped by the author's wishes or idiosyncrasies. (See WP:MOSTM for more about that.) Wyatt Riot (talk) 17:57, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

No, I'm not confusing the two - and the operative point here is that there are two cabals: the one in the Jack story-line and the one in the Daniel story-line. Which does this sentence refer to (I thought it meant the Daniel story-line cabal): However, details such as the members of the Cabal have been changed to facilitate the incorporation of his fictional characters. ? Truthkeeper88 (talk) 18:15, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

I think I fixed it, sorry Truthkeeper for misunderstanding. And I am really indifferent to the actual decision we make on the CABAL/Cabal thing. As Wyatt points out that is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Sadads (talk) 19:10, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

Last para of King Of The Vagabonds plot summary[edit]

The fact that Eliza blows off William is of minimal importance to the plot. The fact that Jack is off on a slaving mission is of critical importance (it significantly influences the motivations of Eliza from then on, and is contributes in a major way to the plot clincher in the final few chapters of the entire cycle) and so perhaps should perhaps be expanded on.--Matt Westwood 17:53, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Your right. Now that I am thoroughly immersed in the plot of the rest of the series, I realized how minor that is. I will expand a bit, and you can go modify and so on until we have something good! Sadads (talk) 18:08, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Thought of something else which might merit a mention: the man who kidnapped Eliza in the first place, the one who eats rotten fish. I'd need to re-read it to establish who he was again (one of the D'Arcachons?) because I'm fairly sure there's something important in there which I never actually got. --Matt Westwood 07:44, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Also the plot should explain that Eliza is not a member of a harem, but a slave. She's from Qwghlm and becomes/is (?) the Countess of Qwghlm. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 12:14, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Technically, she's a harem slave.--Matt Westwood 22:44, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
He was duc d'Arcachon, but she doesn't figure that out until Confusion. Modifying character description now.Sadads (talk) 14:27, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
This paragraph still needs work. I might have a go once I've worked out exactly what is relevant and what is mere padding. This part of the work is absolutely crucial for the understanding of the climax of the cycle.--Matt Westwood 14:35, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

Close paraphrasing[edit]

Per WP:Close paraphrasing I'm posting here. Yesterday I acquired a reading copy of Quicksilver with the intention of rereading the book. The edition includes a Stephenson interview as backmatter. The following sentence is included as caption to an image of Stephenson's manuscript:

The manuscript of the Baroque Cycle was written on on 100 percent cotton paper using three fountain pens: a Waterman Gentleman, a Rotring and a Jorg Hysek. Later the manuscript was transcribed using eMacs and TeX. When it was totally finished a TeX version of the manuscript was converted to QuarkXPress using an eMac LISP program written by the author. ("P.S.: From Pen to Printed Page". Quicksilver. Perennial. 2004. p. 3)

I've commented out the following text from the article, and will rewrite it:

Stephenson wrote the original manuscript on 100 percent cotton paper using three fountain pens: a Waterman Gentleman, a Rotring and a Jorg Hysek. Later the manuscript was transcribed using Emacs and TeX, then converted to QuarkXPress using a program written by Stephenson in LISP.

Truthkeeper88 (talk) 14:10, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

More fundamentally, I wonder whether such details are worth readers' time and attention. If they e.g. somehow reflect Stephenson's philosophy of writing etc., maybe they belong in the article about him, with an explanation of their significance. Here they sound, to me, a lot like fancruft. But I'm just butting in. EEng (talk) 14:39, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
That's a good point. The source mentions the Baroque Cycle in general and not Quicksilver specifically, so perhaps it's worth adding this to an article there or about the author. I'll remove it altogether. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 14:57, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Sorry the statement was a little to similar, I was trying to include information that editors suggested. But it is all factual, so is hard to paraphrase. Sadads (talk) 17:43, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
  • (Disclaimer: Truthkeeper88 asked me for input). Sadads, I'd suggest holding off for now - firstly, it sounds like it's more suitable for the article on The Baroque Cycle. Secondly, whereever it goes I'd strongly recommending posting your proposed wording on the talk page first - many heads being better than one, you're bound to get useful feedback from other editors. Most of us tend to end up as "specialists" in a relatively small area of Wikipedia life - getting input from other editors will bring in more ideas, and more awareness of the various rules and guidelines (no one, despite what they may tell you!, is familiar with every rule or guideline here). Cheers, TFOWRThis flag once was red 19:33, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Source verification[edit]

Given the comments on the thread above, I decided to the article could do with a spot-check of the sources. Quite a few errors have been found, and I've cleaned up as I've gone along. Based on the number of errors from the spot-check, all the sources should be checked and the text recast as necessary. Am almost done with that task. When I'm finished (hopefully in the morning) I'll swing through again to copyedit the changes I've made. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 02:25, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Really, I don't see errors in many of the changes you have made. Many of the changes you have made are the choice between identifying the sources interpretative position through paraphrasing or quotation. Quotation, in many of those cases, seems excessive and unnessary. However, I do think that many of your changes have increased the quality of the language. However, you are losing some of the factually important information, such as the variety of narrative styles which the review did emphasize. Thus far, I don't see any "source" errors. Thank you so much for the help and quality support. Sadads (talk) 17:53, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
I added quotations in instances where the text is a verbatim copy of the source, in which case quotation marks must be used. There were a number of such instances (essentially everywhere I've added quotation marks). Also, in some cases a source was used to cite material that did not exist in the specific source. I've fixed those cases, which is the reason the errors are now gone. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 18:07, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
Just, some of the changes have obscured a more comprehensive approach to the literary analysis, such as the edit I just made which integrates factual statement with the interpretation present in the source. Sadads (talk) 18:34, 10 May 2010 (UTC)
I've reverted the edit because it's not what the source says. It's one thing to provide a comprehensive literary analysis and quite another to put words into the mouths of reviewers. It may be true that Stephenson uses period sentences structure, but to verify it you must find a source that discusses the sentence structure. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 19:31, 10 May 2010 (UTC)


Using the correct terminology for clarity seems important, but is also confusing. There are the three volumes of the Baroque Cycle, the three books in Quicksilver, and the book itself. For clarity, I've been changing "book" to Quicksilver where relevant, but I realized that two versions exist with the same title: the initial 900+ page edition, and the paperback edition that is Book One of the book titled Quicksilver. To add to the confusion, the three paperbacks are also referred to as the Baroque Cycle.

The second paragraph of the lead states: Stephenson organized the structure of Quicksilver such that chapters have been incorporated into three internal books titled "Quicksilver", "The King of the Vagabonds", and "Odalisque". In 2006 each internal book was released in paperback edition, to make the 900 pages more approachable for readers. These books were originally independent novels within the greater cycle during composition.

Perhaps this should be moved to the last paragraph to reflect the structure of the article which has the publication history at the end. Also, should this article include reviews/criticism of the separate books (the short version of Quicksilver, The Vagabond, and The Odalisique, or separate articles be written for those? And is there a source that the 900 pages was broken up for approachability?

I'm too lazy for a search and wondered if anyone knows whether the three paperbacks were only published in the US?

Sorry, lots of questions, but important to the article. Thoughts? Input? Truthkeeper88 (talk) 14:01, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I have been trying to deal with the confusion of book versus volume vs. books within. The problem is, Stephenson himself saw no clear way to distinguish amongst them. Critically, I have not found many articles that have focused on the shorter "novels." So it is largely safe to refer to the full volume as the only important "book." I trust in your judgement on the "Novel" and "book" use issues.
I do remember reading something about the publishers decision to split the book. I cannot find the source right now. I will look for them in the next couple of weeks. And yes the movement of the section about the publication is fine, reflecting on the article. Sadads (talk) 14:36, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. It's very confusing. I've been called away, and have work to do on another article, so I'll continue here tomorrow. Will see what I can find. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 15:57, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Plot synopsis[edit]

Summarizing a plot such as Quicksilver is hard, but I think the plot section needs a trim and to have additions. I'm not sure whether to trim first and then add back in, or to add and then trim.

In my view, the plot should reflect the thematic elements of the theme section. Currently it doesn't seem to have enough information about early computing, networking, cryptography, mathematics, etc., but lets make a list of what's missing from the plot. I can't remember everything, and won't have re-read the book for a few weeks.

Comments welcome. Thanks. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 01:27, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

Good job. As you can see in the history, I have already tried to trim the plot alot, and everyone else who has come through has done so as well. The problem I found was that the themes tend to be secondary to the plot, so when trimming plot you lose themes, sometimes leaving out small parts of the details which make the themes obvious. Emphasizing themes would be ideal though, if you can figure out how to make it work, that would be great.
On the changes to the "Historical characters". Both Newton and Liebnez were far more than mathematicians, even though that is what we remember them for. I would think that they should be called Natural Philosophers, especially when we are dealing with all of their activities in Quicksilver such as Newtons alchemical and physical experiments and Liebnez's fascination with organization and mining. At that time, Mathematician and philosopher are one in the same because no one had been limited by their occupation to just mathematics yet, all of them had to partake in many philosophical endeavors. Modern perception of the two however warps our impression of their role, limiting them to a profession that is distinctly modern. It would be as wrong to call them mathematicians as to call their work science, in the modern sense anyway. Sadads (talk) 16:20, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
The plot has to be trimmed so that the thematic developments aren't lost. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a good example of the balance between plot and theme. In fact it's a good article to emulate for Quicksilver, as they have some similarities.
Stephenson doesn't refer to Leibniz and Newton as natural philosophers in the Dramatis Personae at the end of the novel. I do understand your point, and maybe it's best not to describe those characters, as per the source. Once I've finished downloading the rest of the information I've found, reading it, taking notes, and reading some of the book, I'll get back here. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 17:15, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Publishing campaign & plot[edit]

Truthkeeper, I agree that the exact specifics of the web campaign and the additional information about the signing tour are unneccessary. However the number for the initial publication run, and the use of an internet campaign say alot about the amount of effort being put into the first run of the novel. I think removing these would harm the comprehensiveness of the real world information in the article, Sadads (talk) 01:46, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

That's fine - agree. I just took it back to an earlier version before restructuring. I have some of the sources printed out and am trying to figure out what comes from where. Unfortunately the way the refs are formatted, if a sentence & a cite is deleted, the ref breaks. So, I just deleted. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 01:55, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, that is a little frustrating. I am kindof regretting whoever came through and organized the refs like that (not to point any fingers), Sadads (talk) 02:07, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
Actually the original citation style of the article shouldn't have been changed, so if you wanted to, you'd be well in your rights to reestablish your original style. I find the original style easier to edit. I'm essentially done; just wanted to check the sections I'd worked on against the sources I printed. Everything looks fine, but the attributions and quotes are necessary. Unfortunately it's very choppy - I've recently lost a lot of confidence in my writing, so leave it you to fix. Am returning in a moment with a link to a page that I think is relevant to the plot. Sorry, this is off topic, but I thought this page was interesting; had never read it until this afternoon. I've unwatched the novel project pages, but am wondering if this is information that needs to be posted there? Truthkeeper88 (talk) 02:27, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
I don't think I want to redo the whole referencing right now though. We can work with it, it isn't too bad. On the point of writing style, feel free to make changes. I am very overconfident in my own writing, no matter how many times my flaws get pointed out to me (at least I know I am right? and I do try to fix many problems, but some of them are pretty ingrained). As for the plot thing, that is interesting, I will go through and make sure there isn't too much detail. But I think condensing a 944 page plot into 1500 words is not too much detail, especially considering how important plot complexity is to the critics. We might want to bring that up on the novels page, though participation in it has died down since the last havoc I created :) Sadads (talk) 04:18, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
I'll go through the plot section and add inline comments. I'm thinking it probably should be presented in broad brush strokes and avoid specific scenes, but honestly I haven't read the section in almost six months, and I haven't read the book in years, so will take some thought. I'll also open a thread at wikiproject novels (once I find it again - became one of hundreds unwatched pages) re: writing plots and we can discuss there. I think adding to the guidelines for plot sections wouldn't be bad idea either. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 16:56, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

I started to work on the plot, but thought I'd add it here first. I think I'd the first paragraph down to something like this:

Book One of the novel follows the life of Daniel Waterhouse, beginning in 1713 in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he is contacted by Enoch Root with a request from Sophie, the Electress of Hanover to return to the continent to heal the rift between Newton and Leibniz. Stephenson then presents an extended flashback to the years between 1661 and 1673 when Waterhouse was at Trinity College, Cambridge with Newton, during a period when Newton was working on his theory of calculus.

Can't remember if the calculus part is correct, but Newton was working on the Principia during that period. Anyway, I'd work through para by para and try to be more general. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 21:40, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

The frame story of the ship chase of Daniel is extremely important thus his decision to board the ship is really important, I would make sure we aren't ommiting it, Sadads (talk) 01:14, 13 November 2010 (UTC)
Yeah agreed. How about just mentioning that there is a frame story - I only remember the battle scene as they're leaving Boston and can't remember what happens at the second part of the frame. Maybe the best thing to do is to trim down a little at a time over an extended period. One of these days I'll get to the book too, but it's a long read. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 01:42, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

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