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The Years of Rice and Salt

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The Years of Rice and Salt

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With the incomparable vision and breathtaking detail that brought his now-classic Marstrilogy to vivid life, bestselling author KIM STANLEY ROBINSON boldly imagines an alternate history of the last...
With the incomparable vision and breathtaking detail that brought his now-classic Marstrilogy to vivid life, bestselling author KIM STANLEY ROBINSON boldly imagines an alternate history of the last...
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Description-
  • With the incomparable vision and breathtaking detail that brought his now-classic Marstrilogy 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 shores of 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.
 
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1 Another journey west, Bold and Psin find an empty land; Temur is displeased, and the chapter has a stormy end.

    Monkey never dies. He keeps coming back to help us in times of trouble, just as he helped Tripitaka through the dangers of the first journey to the west, to bring Buddhism from India to China.

    Now he had taken on the form of a small Mongol named Bold Bardash, horseman in the army of Temur the Lame. Son of a Tibetan salt trader and a Mongol innkeeper and spirit woman, and thus a traveler from before the day of his birth, up and down and back and forth, over mountains and rivers, across deserts and steppes, crisscrossing always the heartland of the world. At the time of our story he was already old: square face, bent nose, gray plaited hair, four chin whiskers for a beard. He knew this would be Temur's last campaign, and wondered if it would be his too.

    One day scouting ahead of the army, a small group of them rode out of dark hills at dusk. Bold was getting skittish at the quiet. Of course it was not truly quiet, forests were always noisy compared to the steppe; there was a big river ahead, spilling its sounds through the wind in the trees; but something was missing. Birdsong perhaps, or some other sound Bold could not quite identify. The horses snickered as the men kneed them on. It did not help that the weather was changing, long mare's tails wisping orange in the highest part of the sky, wind gusting up, air damp--a storm rolling in from the west. Under the big sky of the steppe it would have been obvious. Here in the forested hills there was less sky to be seen, and the winds were fluky, but the signs were still there.

    They ride by fields that lay rank with unharvested crops.

    Barley fallen over itself,

    Apple trees with apples dry in the branches,

    Or black on the ground.

    No cart tracks or hoofprints or footprints

    In the dust of the road. Sun sets,

    The gibbous moon misshapen overhead.

    Owl dips over field. A sudden gust:

    How big the world seems in a wind.

    Horses are tense, Monkey too.

    They came to an empty bridge and crossed it, hooves thwocking the planks. Now they came on some wooden buildings with thatched roofs. But no fires, no lantern light. They moved on. More buildings appeared through the trees, but still no people. The dark land was empty.

    Psin urged them on, and more buildings stood on each side of the widening road. They followed a turn out of the hills onto a plain, and before them lay a black silent city. No lights, no voices; only the wind, rubbing branches together over sheeting surfaces of the big black flowing river. The city was empty.

    Of course we are reborn many times. We fill our bodies like air in bubbles, and when the bubbles pop we puff away into the bardo, wandering until we are blown into some new life, somewhere back in the world. This knowledge had often been a comfort to Bold as he stumbled exhausted over battlefields in the aftermath, the ground littered with broken bodies like empty coats.

    But it was different to come on a town where there had been no battle, and find everyone there already dead. Long dead; bodies dried; in the dusk and moonlight they could see the gleam of exposed bones, scattered by wolves and crows. Bold repeated the Heart Sutra to himself. "Form is emptiness, emptiness form. Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond. O, what an Awakening! All hail!"

    The horses stalled on the outskirts of the town. Aside from the cluck and hiss of the river, all was still. The squinted eye of the moon gleamed on dressed stone, there in the middle of all the wooden buildings. A very big stone building,...
About the Author-
  • Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of the Nebula and Hugo Award--winning Mars trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, as well as The Martians, Antarctica, The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, Pacific Edge, A Short, Sharp Shock, and other novels. He lives in Davis, California.

    From the Hardcover...

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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.
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