Neil Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle

I’ve just started in on The Confusion, the second part of the Baroque Cycle. This follows Quicksilver, the first part of the trilogy, which sweeps through the UK and the rest of Europe in the time of Newton, weaving a great historical novel with lessons in the origin of science, finance and politics. I’m really loving the books, and the feeling that I’m enjoying myself and learning at once. Plus, I love any novel that gives me a new picture of London in another time.

One thing that’s bothering me is how difficult it is to find these books. Neil Stephenson, who is based in Seattle, is well known for his science fiction, particularly the novel Snow Crash. But the Baroque Cycle is a historical novel, with not a whiff of Sci-fi. The cover of the books say they should be categorized in “Novel, science” and “Novel, hostoric”. Despite that, these three books are ALWAYS in the Science Fiction section. This bothers me because it makes it less likely that readers who only browse the “real” fiction, and avoid the sci-fi and fantasy corners like the plague, will get any exposure to these great books.

I griped about this to Books Etc, an English book seller, and they explained that their customers didn’t like to have one author in two different sections. Yeah. We’re really dumb that way.