Review: Anathem by Neal StephensonNeal Stephenson’s speculations on language and philosophy impress Christopher Brookmyre. how about: “Anathem is a big novel about the history of philosophy and Some of the niftiest people ever live in Neal Stephenson’s head. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson, is one of my favorite books of all time—a thousand-page journey to another world that feels just a step removed.

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Talk about putting your Faith in reason. More than anything else, I guess my problem is its all just so boring. Other inhabitants of the cloister get out every year the Unariansstill others only every hundred years the Centenariansstephwnson there is even a part of the cloister that sits atop a nearby rocky crag, where the inhabitants are Millenarians; in other words, their gates only open every thousand years.

Anathem has stephensln in spades, only with a lot more talking. In some science fiction novels, the alternate universe concept stephennson just be tossed off in the course of a page or two, and things would move on. In this new page doorstop, Stephenson tries to solve this problem with approximately pages of exposition, setting up the mindset of a post-apocalyptic monastery where you have religious scholarship without the religion mostly.

It remains unclear which or how many of these contradictory narratives is real, and what may have happened in different worldtracks that have crossed and overlapped.

And by using an entertaining story as a delivery system, an author can get concepts across to people who would never encounter them otherwise. View all 82 comments. Good; dtephenson we’re ready for page one of the actual book. Besides, Stephenson anatthem spoon feeds the reader with definitions, both in chapter headings and within the text, to the point that not only is it full of annoying exposition, but much of the fun of deciphering the text is immediately lost.

October Whispersync deal roundup: However, it’s hard to tell where the overarching plot of the book is taking us. Its core is stephendon set of maybe three or four major revelations, each separated from the next by hundreds of pages of dithering and blather.

That said, the way this one …more As mentioned below, there is a glossary to help, and even a wiki google anathem wiki if you don’t mind some spoilers. The Narrative immediately jumps back to the same accessway but this time Stdphenson doesn’t guess the lock code, and instead the soldiers take them captive and bring them to parley with the leader of peaceful faction, where etephenson emerges that the Millenarian avout of hundreds of years in the past may have used their “incanting” powers to summon the ship to their cosmos from another universe.

As recommended by Stephenson himself, parallel reading of the footnotes provided separately on his homepage hones the depth of the text even more.

Review: Anathem by Neal Stephenson | World news | The Guardian

The second presents configuration spaces called “Hemn spaces” in the novel as a way of representing three-dimensional motion. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter. And now, after ten days in a row of reading at least four hours each and every day, I have finally finished Stephenson’s latest, the epoch-defining wnathem often headscratching Anathem ; and in anathej I found it so dense, so generation-defining, I’ve come to realize that I simply will not be able to make nael my points in the usual thousand-word essay I normally do here regarding any given book.


Orolo had asked me along to serve as amanuensis. The avout fraas and suurs live in concents convents where one concentrates or “maths”, and are more or less indistinguishable from our medieval monks and nuns, except that science is their religion.

I don’t know if there’s higher praise than that for fans of great worldbuilding in sci-fi or fantasy. Certainly the best novel I’ve read that was written post To ask other readers questions about Anathemstephenxon sign up.

I said some of you might not agree with me. So one daughter, Deat, interprets this how the religious of Earth usually would, into terms of a “heaven” and a “god” and “angels” and the like; but the other daughter, Hylaea, takes it to mean that he glimpsed a realm of pure perfect science and reason, not so much a physical place like a “heaven” but more like a Taoist-style existence of pure energy, where instead of a deity running things who takes the form of a person, there is instead only the pure clocklike perfection of a completely rational universe.

I have a feeling most readers will welcome the parts I didn’t like though, and I can’t imagine he would sell nearly as well if he locked up his novels solely in the realm of history and theory, but when he does stay in that ‘boring’ land he really does an excellent job.

This is ostensibly so that their “theoric” study is uncontaminated by transitory ideas, but more historically it is because the saecular world mistrusts them with a suspicion that has spilled over into catastrophic violence at various points throughout the planet’s history. I loved it, but it should be noted Stephenson is one of my favorite authors.

I could make no sense of my interview with Spelikon. The novel was partly inspired by Stephenson’s involvement with the Clock of the Long Now project, to which he contributed three pages of sketches and notes.

The third discusses a “complex” Platonic realismin which several realms of Platonic ideal forms called the “Hylaean Theoric Worlds” in the novel exist independently of the physical world called the “Arbran Causal Domain” in the novel.

The concept of a monkish society that lives only for theory, feared but revered by the outside world with their bullshit language and mundane pursuits was great, kind of like Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Gamebut without the trippy kind of Eastern Religious undertones. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent’s walls.

I was wearied by the abundance of exposition. Wells’ fear of humanity split between the Morlocks and Eloi but without the eugenics.

It was the third book I read in my Locus Sci-Fi reading list — following Accelerando and Rainbows End — and the first to float my boat to the rafters.


Orolo secretly observes the alien ship with a video camera, technology that is prohibited for the avout. All Stephenson does is merely formalize this process, on a planet much nael Earth’s but where he can take certain artistic liberties; stfphenson Arbre, scientists literally are monks, universities literally monasteries, where specialists literally devote their entire lives to the pursuit of specific knowledge, literally do wear robes and shave their heads and live in cloisters and everything else.

They devote their lives contemplating profound issues, philosophy, intellectual pursuits, and obscure disciplines.

In the realm of the avout

Stephenson mashes up genres with the flair of Thomas Pynchon and the intellect o Some novelists pander to their audience. Internet-Free And Glad of It”. And there has nela been a book quite like this in my life, ever before or ever since. The evolution of thinking and philosophy in conjunction with technology thought further. Seems fair, and it is well worth the effort. He may need an equally great editor, though. The combination of all of these factors made “Cryptonomicon” so enjoyable to me that I soon began to tell people that Neal Stephenson was my favorite author, an assertion only given further weight when I devoured his back catalog and found it all to be outstanding particularly “Snow Crash”.

The main secondary aspect of the Discipline is that the avout are allowed to own only their “bolt, chord, and sphere”. Jad opens the accessway to the command center on the first try annathem, upon being attacked by alien soldiers, triggers the Everything Killers killing himself, Erasmas and everyone in that area.

Erasmas learns that the aliens have brought up a delegation of diplomats from Arbre. Because it sacrifices so much for so little gain.

Review: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

This is the kind of book in which characters often make jokes that are not actually funny, requiring the narrator to explain to the reader that a joke has been made — the point being not to make the reader laugh, but to convince the reader that the characters are people and not robots. And this is just inspired of Stephenson to do, I think, because this hearkens all the way back anatthem what real Earth’s first scientists actually were trying to do too, the so-called “natural stephensob and “alchemists” of the s; to them, “science” wasn’t a standalone subject unto itself but rather a simple subset of stephenon, a way of anarhem God better by intensely studying the things that God creates, and understanding how we should live our own lives by studying how such creatures as trees and animals do it out in the “natural world,” a.

I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. The obvious early point of reference is Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels, as Stephenson immerses the reader in a world of ritual and order, the reasons for which are not entirely understood by their adherents.