Cryptonomicrisis

I’ve got a problem. A book-related problem.
A year or so ago, I started reading Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver. I made it a good ways through, and was enjoying it. And then the unthinkable happened: I got distracted, and put the book back on the shelf… for about 12 months.
Now, I’d like to finish the novel and move on to the other two tomes in the trilogy. But I’ve forgotten all of the characters and plot details (and if you’ve read anything by Stephenson, you know that his plots contain a lot of details), so I feel some pressure to start over from page 1. But I also feel a mind-numbing dread at the prospect of re-reading 600 pages of fairly dense prose.
This has happened to me more than once before; the most spectacular such experience occurred while I was reading through Robert Jordan’s as-yet-unfinished Wheel of Time series. I read through book 5 in the series–and remember, that’s many thousands of pages just to get to that point–and then my brain collapsed from the strain of keeping track of so… many… characters! So many annoying characters!
So I put down the Wheel of Time series. Several years later, I decided for some reason that I’d like to give the series another try. As the details of my first reading were lost in a haze of repressed memories, I decided to start over with Book #1.
I made it to the exact spot at which I had stopped years earlier, somewhere in book 5… and stopped again. Something inside me had died. More likely, that something inside me had committed suicide at the realization that Achilles has a better chance of catching that tortoise than I ever do of reaching the (still unwritten!) end of the Wheel of Time series.
And so Robert Jordan and I parted ways somewhat messily. I love Mr. Stephenson’s writing, and would rather not risk a repeat of my nasty Wheel of Time breakup. Any suggestions?

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4 thoughts on “Cryptonomicrisis

  1. MM

    Well, you could try outlining the whole series as you go along, with appedices of character lists and a comprehensive timeline. That’s what I call pleasure reading.
    Seriously, it was that stupid Robert Jordan series that convinced me to never again start reading a series that the author hasn’t finished yet. I just stopped after book 7 or 8 (about 5000 pages worth). Has Rand gone insane yet? Has Nyneave gotten any more bitchy? I don’t care.

  2. Jim Zoetewey

    I’ve never even attempted to read the Wheel of Time. I just saw the endless number of books, all of which appeared to be at least 500 pages and decided that I would probably never touch it.
    Can’t say the same thing abut the “Chung Kuo” series (which is about a future in which the Chinese rule the world, having somehow erased all evidence of Western culture and imposed pre-Maoist Chinese culture…). I read the third novel of that one and somehow enjoyed the book while simultaneously losing the urge to read the rest of the 7 volume series.
    I’m in the midst of Quicksilver myself at the moment and hope to finish it someday. I’ve been stalled on it for the past couple weeks.

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