Who is Enoch Root? (September 21, 2007)

A few months ago I finished the Baroque Cycle by Neil Stephenson. It's a historical fiction about several major players in the scientific Enlightenment, including Newton, Leibniz, and Hooke. It takes place at a time when Europe is starting to embrace trade and commerce, and hereditary power is weakening.

I had never before imagined what it must have been like to peer through a microscope, for the first time, and realize there is a whole tiny world just too small to see. I had never thought about how world-changing it must have felt to first get glimpses into calculus and Newtonian physics, bringing sense to parts of the world that used to be much more mysterious. At the same time, financial arrangements such as insurance, stocks, and money itself are improving fitfully as the book progresses. There is even a university whose funding comes from a defense department.

I have to say, while I like Enoch Root, I am glad that Stephenson seems to picture him as a player in the story, subject to all--er, most--of its laws, as opposed to being magical, robotic, or from another planet. By keeping Enoch Root non-magical, Stephenson keeps the story that much more real. I just hope, one of these days, Stephenson clues us in on who exactly Enoch Root is. What do you think?

Lex Spoon