The Years of Rice and Salt is an alternative history novel published in 2002. Its working title was A World Without Europe. It explores the shape the world would have taken if 99% of the European population had been wiped out by the 14th Century Black Plague. It follows 700 years of human toil and development unto a time where world civilization is one step ahead of our own. Through monologues, discussions between characters and parallels with our world, the novel explores the way history is made and discusses ideas on the evolution of history and the purpose of civilization (if any).