The Years of Rice and Salt: Books: Kim Stanley Robinson
: Award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson delivers a thoughtful and powerful examination of cultures and the people who shape them. How might human history be different if 14th-century Europe was utterly wiped out by plague, and Islamic and Buddhist societies emerged as the world's dominant religious and political forces? The Years of Rice and Salt considers this question through the stories of individuals who experience and influence various crucial periods in the seven centuries that follow. The credible alternate history that Robinson constructs becomes the framework for a tapestry of ideas about philosophy, science, theology, and politics.
A good read, a very good read. Apart from a very interesting alternative history it's also an interesting view on the whole concept of reincarnation. Kim Stanley Robinson does tend to lecture on a bit but in this one it only got on my nerves a bit at the very end. All in all highly recommended.
It's the third alternative history novell I've read. The other two being Len Deighton's SS-GB which is set in a Great Britain that lost the battle of Britain in 1940. And of course Fatherland by Robert Harris which is also a murder mystery but set in the 1960s after Hitler won the second world war. You may remember the movie starring Rutger Hauer.
Main difference between these two and the years of rice and salt is that you notice that Robinson is a scientist and Harris and Deighton are just good writers.