The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

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With the incomparable vision and breathtaking detail that brought his now-classic Mars trilogy 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.

About Kim Stanley Robinson

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Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting, The Years of Rice and Salt, Antarctica, Galileo, and 2312. In 2008, he was named a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine, and he recently joined in the Sequoia Parks Foundation's Artists in the Back Country program. He lives in Davis, California.
Published June 3, 2003 by Spectra. 784 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, History, Science & Math. Fiction

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Mar 05 2002 | Read Full Review of The Years of Rice and Salt

Kirkus Reviews

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Robinson explores ten periods in this alternate history with earthy, pragmatic Bardash, impetuous, vengeful Kyu, and quietly intellectual I-Li undergoing many reincarnations: orphaned Indian girl, Sufi mystic, African eunuch, Sultan’s wife, Chinese admiral, dourly brilliant alchemist, feminist po...

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Publishers Weekly

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Having revolutionized the novel of planetary exploration with his Nebula- and Hugo-winning Mars trilogy (Red Mars, etc.), Robinson is attempting to do the same to another genre with this highly realistic and credible alternate history.

Jul 01 2002 | Read Full Review of The Years of Rice and Salt

Fantasy Literature

What makes this novel an especially interesting response to American foreign policy is that Robinson has removed America as we know it from the world and mostly explores the question from the perspective of Muslims and Chinese characters.

Jul 03 2015 | Read Full Review of The Years of Rice and Salt

The Zone

In Robinson's universe, it wiped out Europe entirely, leaving the future to Islam and China until, after their apocalyptic final confrontation, world power goes to the Hodenosaunee, an enormous expansion of the Iroquois confederacy that takes in all the tribes of the Americas, becomes a sea...

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