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"There was no way to get from here to Roger's house that was not dangerous, offensive, or both. Daniel opted for offensive, i.e., he attempted to walk through the middle of Hockley-in-the-Hole. [...]


"All foot-traffic had to squeeze through a strait no more than a fathom wide between this storm of elbows and the building fronts..."


Neal Stephenson, The System of the World, Page 120. Text copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson

"Coming round the elbow before Wapping put them in view of a mile of river, running up to the great horseshoe-bend between Limehouse and Rotherhithe, Daniel was surprised, and yet not, to see that the new city on the left bank extended almost that entire distance..." Neal Stephenson, The System of the World, Page 81. Text copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson

"They came in view of a pier that thrust out into the river at the downstream end of the yard, well clear of the ships. A man in plain black clothing was sitting on a keg near the end, nibbling on a pasty and reading a Bible." Neal Stephenson, The System of the World, Page 82. Text copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson

"...he would begin his journey by dodging westwards and exiting Clerkenwell Green through a sort of sphincter that led into Turnmill Street." Neal Stephenson, The System of the World, page 117.


Some more building info:


"The crowd, hemmed in under the vault of the [London Bridge] Chapel, suddenly pressed him from all sides. It was like being an atom of a gas in Boyle's Rarefying Engine when the piston was slammed down by a terrific weight . A carriage was trying to force its way through - and succeeding."


Neal Stephenson, The System of the World, Page 507

'An older pilgrim, several turns of the helix below them, stumbled. He was too short of breath to curse. He had to be content with inhaling and exhaling in a very cross way.'

The System Of The World p 240, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson

"...the north side of the Hole: a line-up of taverns and of smudgy enterprises that looked as if they didn't want to be hosted.




"He had got about halfway through [...] before his mind identified it as one of the new rigs called phaethons. It was going to squeeze through this bottleneck. Or rather, it would trot through without breaking stride, and let the pedestrians do all the squeezing."


Neal Stephenson, The System of the World, Page 120. Text copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson.


Arched doorway and oval window

#fika #nealstephenson #baroquecycle #tea #bullar #cardamomrolls #stairs #teusajaure #norrland #lappland #fjällen #sweden #mountains #STF


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hasseotage: Bullarna ser extremt goda ut!


annaxt: Allting blir extremt gott i fjällen, särskilt när man bara har ätit knäcke i två veckor. Men det var bara bullmix, inget mer avancerat!


monkiaktig: Jag gillar verkligen dina bilder, vart har du tagit bilderna i Norrland?


annaxt: Tack @nicolinaeller, de är tagna i Teusajaure, lite sydväst om Kebnekaise.


rasadave: Wait till u get to the confusion ! It gets more interesting !!!!!


Lucy is not excited about my winter break reading. #baroquecycle


'Half-way up they stopped to pant. The two younger pilgrims shared a stone ledge lit by a wee air-hole; some stone masons had gone to a lot of trouble, here, to frame a toenail of gassy white sky in thunderous vault-work.'

The System Of The World p 239, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson

'He scanned some third of a mile of London, stretching from the square at the base of the Monument to the vast killing-ground of Tower Hill... Raising his glass then brought him straight to a view of St. Mary-at-Hill... Beyond those, a few degrees to starboard, was a great hulk of a church, St.-Dunstan-in-the-East... and another hundred yards to the east of it was another bulky fabrique whose roof too was infested... This would be Trinity House, the Guild or Clubb of Thames river-pilots... Diverting now a bit to port, and some five hundred feet downrange, he found All Hallows Church... Beyond that was Tower Hill.'

The System Of The World p 243-244 copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


Notes on building-spotting:


St. Mary-at-Hill is a bit vague, but that brick tower is my best guess. It's somewhere around there.


St.-Dunstan-in-the-East is now only a spire, with a garden in the remaining walls.


Trinity House is a tricky beast to nail down, mainly because the current Trinity House was only built in 1796, and is annoyingly nearby. But there's mention of the old House on Water Lane, which fits with Jack's description of the distances on page 243 and puts it on the spot of that long flat-roofed building with lots of chimneys.


All Hallows Church is easy once you know where to look, with its distinctive copper-green spire.


Want to check the rocket-path for yourself? Downloaderise these Google Earth markers!

I had some spare time in London a couple of weeks ago: why not photo-document one of the pivotal locations in The System of the World, The Tower of London.


Possible spoilers ahead!


When reading the rather lengthy invasion sequence, I didn't have a clear mental map of what was where inside the Tower, so that was my main focus. On a very dismal, grey day with no direct sunlight I found myself in the ancient fortress complex - it was freezing cold and I didn't get to spend as much time there as I would've liked, but here are my photos and notes.


Page numbers and references are from the Arrow Books 2005 UK paperback edition, text copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson.

The interior of the dome of St Stephen-Walbrook. The outside of the building gives no hint of how beautiful the inside is.

'"Make way for them, brother," said the uppermost of the two young Dissidents, "Heaven can wait for us; Hell's hungry for these." He flattened himself against the wall, back to the chilly stone. But his brother was disfigured by an enormous hump on the back, and had to retreat to the window, and lean backwards into the cavity.'

The System Of The World p 240, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson

Though the most ancient door of the White Tower was situated in the opposite corner, along the Inmost Ward, a more recent one was available at the base of the turret stair. It deposited them upon a strip of green on the north side, between the White Tower and a row of storehouses that lined the inner surface of the curtain wall.

p303, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


And that's about as useful as visiting the Tower gets from a TSotW perspective, since the "row of storehouses" has been replaced by Waterloo Block where the Crown Jewels are kept. Jack's view of Bowyer, Brick and Jewel Towers is completely obscured by Waterloo, and you can't get through Brick Tower to Mint Street to tamper with the Pyx, more's the pity. Have a look at Google Maps to see the whole Tower complex.


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Dart the Barber lived in a garret above a storehouse in Cold Harbour... a patch of turf and a few storehouses in the middle of Tower Green, just off the southwest corner of the ancient Conqueror's keep called the White Tower.

p226, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


Dart and Tom's lodging is long gone, along with the rest of those buildings. So the "L-shaped alley" that runs around the back of Cold Harbour from Bloody Tower to the Inner Ward is also missing.


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Outside of the dome...

Just beyond them was the sheer face of Bell Tower, which unfortunately blocked much of his view to the west. Bell was a bastion, meaning it bulged out through the planes of the walls to either side of it.

p261, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


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Of the motley line of half-timbered houses that stretched along the southern verge of the Parade, the Lieutenant's Lodging lay farthest to the west. The one Rufus MacIan was concerned with was at the opposite, easternmost end, therefore closest to Bloody Tower... Between its eastern face and Bloody Tower was an open ground perhaps fifteen yards across - a narrow enough interval to allow for targeted musket-fire.

p265, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


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Bloody Tower and Wakefield Tower each contained a gate. These two structures were so close together as to constitute virtually a single, misshapen building.

p268, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


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Byward Tower, through which they'd just passed, was the corner-stone of the outer defences. All it afforded was entry to a narrow belt of land surrounding the inner defences, which were much higher and more ancient.

p197, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


Shame about the scaffolding that was covering a lot of Byward Tower.


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I had to take this with my phone, but it's the entire original manuscript for The Baroque Cycle, along with the ink cartidges and ink wells used to write it. It's bigger than it looks.

by Neal Stephenson

The other choice was to make a hard left, turning one's back on the river, and wander off into what looked like a medieval slum, thrown up against the exterior of a Crusader castle by a lot of bustling rabble who were not allowed to come in and mingle with the knights and squires. The spine of it was a single narrow lane. On the left side of that lane ran a series of old casemates, which in soldier-parlance meant fortified galleries... They rose nearly to the height of the outer wall... they had been remodelled into workshops and barracks for the Mint.

p198, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


They seem to have tidied up the slum, at least. But that's as far as you can get up Mint Street, so we can't follow Daniel's circuit of the Tower, nor can we get to the Pyx.


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Anyone coming into such a crowded place would instinctively scan for a way out. The first one that met the eye, as one came in through Byward Gate, was Water Lane - the strip of pavement between inner and outer defences, along the river side. This view was half-blocked by Bell Tower and its later-day excrescences, but none the less seemed like the obvious path to choose, for Water Lane was broad. And because it was open to the public during the daytime, it was generally free of clutter.

p198, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


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The Parade stretched an hundred paces from east (the line of barracks huddled along the footing of the White Tower) to west (a wee street of warders' houses backed against the west wall). A hundred and fifty paces separated it's north (the Chapel) from its south (the Lieutenant's Lodging). The Cold Harbour dwelling of Dart the Barber, Tom the Black-guard, and Pete the Sutler was about half-way 'long the eastern edge of it.

p 227, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


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Now, though, he staged half an escape by thrusting his head and shoulders out the window.

It was a different world out there. The only thing he had an eye for at first was doings from the river...

p256, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


This view, from the parapet just west of Bloody Tower, is the closest you can get to the Warder's houses and the Lieutenant's Lodging where MacIan begins his escape.


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These windows were desperately exposed to view, and to more dangerous attentions, from the Wharf... Soldiers on the Wharf, distracted by the apparition on the Thames, could see it if they turned around and looked - but it was just as likely they'd not.

p260, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson


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Whichever one of those windows belonged to the Lieutenant's Lodging (the ones nearest Bell Tower are currently the Queen's House) would be where MacIan sticks his head out, and where grappling irons allow the soldiers to ascend.


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Fun with crap and paranoia.


I'm wallowing towards the end of the magnificent, insane, and aptly titled "Baroque cycle". My heads bleeding flashbacks of maths, computers and incomprehensible languages. I find a wierd 70]s Polish magazine full of hairy people and satisfyingly clunky computers. Lots of switches, big flashy lights, perfect Mad Scientist material. Mwahahaha. Lets get some evelopes, wires, and electrical oddments, more, more, more crap, more paranoia "snap snap snap snap"


I must be very very bored.

These books belonged to my Great Aunt Martiel Smith. They were left to me by my Great Grandmother Eleanor 'Cookie" Cooke. They were the focus of a nasty bit of family drama in the mid-90's that created a rift that really still hasn't completely healed.


My mother kept them for me during my numerous cross-country moves. Being much more settled in life now I was happy to have finally made a proper home for them.


I value them very highly - they are a very early reprinting - not first but they also have such emotional value that the printing is really irrelevant to me. It seems entirely appropriate to shelve them next to the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson.

'Jimmy and Danny were flabbergasted by the view: the new dome of St. Paul's in one direction, about a mile away. Opposite, and only half as far, the Tower of London.'

The System Of The World p 242, copyright © 2004 by Neal Stephenson