Review. The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
I'm still not sure what to say about this book. I finished it about a week ago. It was good.
I normally hate this sort of book, in which the plot moves through a long period of history. Why? Nothing ties the sections of the book, set in completely different eras (or even countries, as in this case) together. What if the Christians mostly died out in the Black Plague, leaving Islam and China as the dominant cultures remaining? Who cares? The characters I care about are gone in sixty pages or so...
Except they're not. The main characters in each section of the story reincarnate; in fact, they stay together throughout the ages, providing some much-needed character development through what could have been a cultural study of epic, epic, epic proportions.
So I liked the book. I recommend it to history buffs and alternate-history buffs. And I've finally read the guy that sits next to Spider on the shelf, and he's not bad. Hm. Too literary, though, or not "literary" enough to provide yours truly with true delight.