The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Years of Rice and Salt

Kim Stanley Robinson

An epic read that supposes that Western Europe was totally wiped out by the plague in the 13th century, and that history was made by Muslim, Buddhist, Chinese and Native American cultures instead. Centred on Eastern tradition, the history follows a group of souls, endlessly reborn, endlessly experiencing different lives, endlessly working towards escape from the wheel of existence. Absolutely riveting.

My feeling is that until the number of whole lives is greater than the number of shattered lives, we remain stuck in some kind of prehistory, unworthy of humanity's great spirit. History as a story worth telling will only begin when the whole lives outnumber the wasted ones. That means we have many generations to go before history begins. All the inequalities must end; all the surplus wealth must be equitably distributed. Until then we are still only some kind of gibbering monkey, and humanity, as we usually like to think of it, does not yet exist.

The old woman read the pages her husband had given her, walking up and down on the verandah, full of agitation. She went to her own writing stand and took up her brush, and in quick blind strokes filled a page.

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