Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

4/12/2004

Review: The Genius of China

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I finished The Genius of China this weekend.

Wow. This is an incredible book! Like many readers of popular modern science, I constantly underestimate the inventiveness and technology of ancient man. This book really highlights that. Also, it’s an amazing inventory of creativity and inventiveness that the current China seems to be regaining. Imagine very modern inventions like glow-in-the-dark paint and natural gas mining being invented before the First Century AD!
I read this as a way to get familiar with the technology of one of the most inventive people and times in history so that I could use it in conworld creation. I was NOT disappointed! The idea that they had movable type and spill-proof lanterns were revelations to me. Not to mention the quality of their ceramics and lacquer.
However, you’ve really got to want this information to read this book. I found the author’s style to be quite dry and academic. In some cases, it even seemed rather biased in favor of the Chinese, but, as my wife pointed out, that’s to be expected considering the subject matter.
All in all, though, the author’s writing skills are not enough to keep me from heartily recommending this book to anyone interested in the technology of the ancient world.

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