The Years of Rice and Salt

784 pages

English language

Published July 29, 2003

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5 stars (2 reviews)

The Years of Rice and Salt is an alternate history novel by American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, published in 2002. The novel explores how world history might have been different if the Black Death plague had killed 99 percent of Europe's population, instead of a third as it did in reality. Divided into ten parts, the story spans hundreds of years, from the army of the Muslim conqueror Timur to the 21st century, with Europe being re-populated by Muslim pioneers, the indigenous peoples of the Americas forming a league to resist Chinese and Muslim invaders, and a 67-year-long world war being fought primarily between Muslim states and the Chinese and their allies. While the ten parts take place in different times and places, they are connected by a group of characters that are reincarnated into each time but are identified to the reader by the first letter of …

3 editions

Uchronie : la Peste Noire fait de l’Europe un désert.

5 stars

L’idée est simple : au lieu de liquider un tiers de la population européenne, la Peste Noire de la fin du Moyen Âge ne laisse personne, et l’Europe devient un désert. Évidemment l’Histoire prend une toute autre tournure : le Nouveau Monde est envahi par les Chinois et les Arabes ; la France est recolonisée depuis l’Andalousie par les soufis et la Scandinavie par la Horde d’Or ; la science moderne apparaît à Samarcande ; les Indiens font la révolution industrielle et s’étendent aussi vite que les Européens au XIXè siècle ; la Guerre Mondiale est pire que celles que nous avons connues…

Comme dans la trilogie de SF martienne, Robinson veut que le lecteur s’attache aux personnages malgré une histoire étalée sur des siècles. En science-fiction il pouvait allonger leur vie grâce à la médecine, mais ici l’expédient est plus radical : ils se réincarnent. Après tout, le bouddhisme …

Review of 'The Years of Rice and Salt' on 'LibraryThing'

5 stars

A book about our place in the world and the eternal question of how to live well, disguised as a novel. It's a long read, best savoured slowly over a stretch of time. It's too easy to become impatient and rush through to the "good bits" of action and excitement, and miss the thought-provoking substance.

It is less a fantasy or science fiction work than a tribute to our potential as a species, seen through an Eastern lens that is not often considered in Robinson's English-speaking target audience.