| An historical trilogy, set in the last quarter of the 17th century and the first quarter of the 18th, at the time of the beginnings of the Royal Society, the English Civil War, struggles for the British and other thrones, with Europe largely unformed, Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke alive, Turks besieging Vienna. All vividly colorful, and taking place on all levels, from vagabonds to royalty, none of it romanticized, and very often very funny.
Stephenson is, and likes to be, he says, classified in bookstores as a Science Fiction writer, and you'll see why if you read two earlier books of his: Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. I think Stephenson needs the context of history to stay grounded; those books are completely wild. I didn't like them nearly as much as these three, though the writing is always vivid and enjoyable.
Stephenson is a wonderful writer; his writing carries you along. But he got carried away and, at the end, the story didn't come together. He promised too much.