Anathem Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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"'The only catch to reading a novel as imposingly magnificent as this is that for the next few months, everything else seems small and obvious by comparison.' Christopher Brookmyre, Guardian 'Anathem is a brilliant, playful tour of the terrain where logic, mathematics, philosophy and quantum physics intersect, a novel of ideas par excellence, melding wordplay and mathematical theory with a gripping, human adventure.' The Times 'I think this novel is wonderful... Anathem is a call to move into the world.' Andrew McKie, Daily Telegraph 'Neal Stephenson's vertiginous new novel [holds], for me, a boundlessly engaging fascination that comes at the price of being made to feel infinitesimally small: not merely as a human being, but as a writer, too... The only catch to reading a novel as imposingly magnificent as this is that for the next few months, everything else seems small and obvious by comparison.' Christopher Brookmyre, Guardian 'You find yourself enveloped in the atmosphere of a good library, one populated by a cast of characters whose talking is anything but annoying - and often illuminating. Fabulous.' Jonathan Wright, SFX Magazine"
From the Back Cover
For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world. But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.
Anathem is the latest miraculous invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle a work of astonishing scope, intelligence, and imagination. " --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
After reading the first 50 or 60 pages, I was wondering if I'd wasted my money. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this. The many invented words peppered throughout the text didn't help either - you can immediately decipher many of them from context they're used in, but it is annoying to do it as often as Anathem requires.
However, I kept going, and by the time I'd gotten through the first 100 pages or so I found myself quite enjoying it. After another couple of hundred pages I was reluctant to put it down, and eventually ended up reading the last third of the book in a single session.
What I would say is that once you become familiar with the dialect used by the characters and get past the relatively slow opening chapters, Anathem becomes a far more engaging and interesting book. Sci-fi action sequences are interspersed with frequent philosophical or metaphysical discussions between various characters, which may of course not be to the liking of every reader, but I found it both interesting and entertaining.
Now that I've finished the book I am planning to wait a few weeks and then read it again, as I suspect that reading the opening chapters will be a far better experience the second time around.
In addition to his usual information-overload, 'Anathem' sees Stephenson add yet another layer of confusion. Set in the far future, in a parallel world, much of the language used by the novel's characters, has been invented by the author. These new words are logical and consistent, deriving from Greek and Latin, but they take a little while to bed in, and I found 'Anathem's' opening fragmented and hard to follow. But like subtitles to a good film, I soon stopped noticing, and became wholly immersed in this magnificent novel.
The novel's central character is Erasmas, a member of intellectual brethren, cut off from normal secular society. The brothers (and sisters) remain exiled from the real world, for one, ten, a hundred or even a thousand years depending how committed they are to their calling. As the novel opens, Erasmas is about to complete the first decade of his seclusion. Considering much of the early parts of the novel revolve around the philosophical discussions between members of this cloistered community, 'Anathem' is surprisingly readable.Read more ›
The background can make getting to grips with Anathem hard work. I am lucky. I am a failed physicist who has studied a chunk of pure maths and has taken a course in the history of maths. I was hooked in a few pages. Others report that they had trouble getting started. If you are one of these then stick with Anathem and you will come to terms with the thinking. Once you are over this hump you too will find this to be a gripping read.
I really enjoyed this book. It takes two long running science fiction themes and twists them together in a novel way. It also shows that the study of maths is something vibrant and interesting. There is even one good piece of geometry that will help the reader to understand the nature of a squareroot and another that answers the question why do I need six co-ordinates to describe an object's position in space.
Give Anathem a go. The chances are that you will enjoy Anathem as much as I did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very difficult science fiction novel to describe, but I'll have a go. Essentially, this is a world, Arbre, in which intellectual and scientific debate and discovery is... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Best book ever written! In my humble opinion, of course ;)
Book in great condition considering the age of it. Would definitely recommend Fantastic Literature to anybody.
I recently re-read this, thinking I must have been not concentrating properly first time round, as I found it rather dull and slow compared to other Stephenson books, especially... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rob Davies
One of those books where you enter a complete world and accept the beliefs and behaviours, however strange. beautifully written.Published 9 months ago by Alison Young
An amazing book, hard going at first (resist the footnotes if you can!) but it all comes together fairly quickly and is a wonderful story.Published 9 months ago by Rev. Andy
Difficult to get into the story. Doesn't compare with others of the same genre.Published 10 months ago by D. J. Ross