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Anathem Paperback – 1 Sep 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Export e. edition (1 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843549166
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843549161
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,684,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

[R]iveting idea porn. --Details on ANATHEM

"He mashes up genres with the flair of Thomas Pynchon and the intellect of William Gibson."--Winnipeg Free Press on ANATHEM

"Stephenson's expansive storytelling echoes Walter Miller's classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, the space operas of Larry Niven and the cultural meditations of Douglas Hofstadter - a heady mix of antecedents that makes for long stretches of dazzling entertainment."--Publishers Weekly on ANATHEM

"Anathem duly marries extensive dialogues on quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness to literal cliffhangers, hi-tech warfare and derring-do."--Leicester Mercury on ANATHEM

"Stephenson displays his ingenuity when it comes to mixing science, sociology and satire with swashbuckling adventure. Anathem marries extensive scientific and philosophical dialogues to cliffhangers, hi-tech warfare and derring-do."--Sunday Sun (UK) on ANATHEM

"A daring feat of speculative fiction...ANATHEM offers the reader a luscious arrangement of words, jokes, and speculations."--Boston Globe

"The cult legend's newest book, Anathem, [is] destined to be an instant sci-fi classic."--Popular Mechanics on ANATHEM

"Anyone who has read Stephenson's Baroque Cycle will be familiar with his ingenuity when it comes to mixing science, sociology and satire with swashbuckling adventure, and ANATHEM duly marries extensive dialogues on quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness to literal cliffhangers, high-tech warfare and general derring-do."--The Examiner (Ireland) on ANATHEM

"As with Stephenson's previous work, plot and character are wrought to the highest standards of literary fiction but they're scarcely as fascinating as the worlds he conjures up. If there's anything more readable than ANATHEM it should probably be banned."--Word (UK) on ANATHEM

"[R]avishingly brilliant, outrageously ambitious...ANATHEM is thought-provoking fun, at turns a post-graduate seminar of philosophy and physics, and a rousing yarn with characters you care about."--Orlando Sentinel on ANATHEM

"The Seattle writer is kind of a cross between William Gibson and Richard Powers, hard-wired to tell stories, explore technology and riff on anything that catches his fancy."--The Oregonian (Portland) on ANATHEM

"A tour-de-force of world building and high-concept speculation, wrapped around a page-turning plot."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch on ANATHEM

"In Anathem, Stephenson creates a religion for skeptics and nerds."--Austin American-Statesman on ANATHEM

"A magnificent achievement. "--Booklist (starred review) on ANATHEM

"Clever and intricate...truly ingenious...it's brilliance is undeniable."--Locus, Gary K. Wolfe on ANATHEM

"A masterpiece...mind-bogglingly ambitious...readers will delight in puzzling out the historical antecedents in philosophy, science, mathematics, and art that Stephenson riffs on with his customary quicklsilver genius...it's one of the most thought-provoking novels I've ever read, and also one of the most engaging."--Locus, Paul Witcover, on ANATHEM

"Stephenson writes in twists and turns, double-backs and cul-de-sacs, winding tunnels and fast-moving tracks. It's a Rube Goldberg sort of book: intricate, sometimes difficult to follow but always fascinating to read."--Grand Rapids Press on ANATHEM

"Anathem is a challenge: Make yourself one of the avout. Make yourself a scholar, and try to understand the world a little differently."--Eugene Weekly on ANATHEM

"It's almost impossible to not be impressed by Anathem; there's simply too much erudition, wit, craft and risk-taking."--San Francisco Chronicle on ANATHEM

"Suddenly, novels of ideas are cool again."--io9 on ANATHEM

"[R]iveting idea porn."--Details on ANATHEM

"A sprawling disquisition...[a] logophilic treat for those who like their alternate worlds big, parodic and ironic."--Kirkus Reviews on ANATHEM

"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."--London Times on ANATHEM

"This is a book about science and philosophy which demands the full concentration of the reader -a worthwhile, smart, exciting read."--Time Out London

"[O]ne of Stephenson's best novels...a captivating blend of culture clash, deductive reasoning and pure action."--Columbus Dispatch on ANATHEM

"What ever happened to the great novel of ideas? It has morphed into science fiction, and Stephenson is its foremost practitioner. A-"--Time magazine on ANATHEM

[R]avishingly brilliant, outrageously ambitious...Stephenson embarks on a mission of world-building, and he is thoroughly successful at it."--South Florida Sun Sentinel on ANATHEM

"Reading Anathem is a humbling experience."--Washington Post on ANATHEM

"The world Stephenson builds is richly visual, its complicated social politics are convincingly detailed, and its cool and conflicted heroes struggle with thrilling intellectual puzzles while they are tested in epic physical adventures."--Slate, Best of 2008 List, on ANATHEM

"Learned, witty, weirdly torqued, emotionally complex, politically astute, and often darkly comic...ANATHEM is an audacious work by a highly intelligent imagination, a delightfully learned text."--Edmonton Journal (Alberta) on ANATHEM

Reading Anathem is a humbling experience. --Washington Post on ANATHEM"

A sprawling disquisition [a] logophilic treat for those who like their alternate worlds big, parodic and ironic. --Kirkus Reviews on ANATHEM"

Stephenson s expansive storytelling echoes Walter Miller s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, the space operas of Larry Niven and the cultural meditations of Douglas Hofstadter a heady mix of antecedents that makes for long stretches of dazzling entertainment. --Publishers Weekly on ANATHEM"

A magnificent achievement. --Booklist (starred review) on ANATHEM"

Clever and intricate...truly ingenious...it s brilliance is undeniable. --Locus, Gary K. Wolfe on ANATHEM"

A masterpiece...mind-bogglingly ambitious...readers will delight in puzzling out the historical antecedents in philosophy, science, mathematics, and art that Stephenson riffs on with his customary quicklsilver genius...it s one of the most thought-provoking novels I ve ever read, and also one of the most engaging. --Locus, Paul Witcover, on ANATHEM"

The Seattle writer is kind of a cross between William Gibson and Richard Powers, hard-wired to tell stories, explore technology and riff on anything that catches his fancy. --The Oregonian (Portland) on ANATHEM"

[O]ne of Stephenson s best novels a captivating blend of culture clash, deductive reasoning and pure action. --Columbus Dispatch on ANATHEM"

What ever happened to the great novel of ideas? It has morphed into science fiction, and Stephenson is its foremost practitioner. A- --Time magazine on ANATHEM"

[R]iveting idea porn. --Details on ANATHEM"

The cult legend s newest book, Anathem, [is] destined to be an instant sci-fi classic. --Popular Mechanics on ANATHEM"

He mashes up genres with the flair of Thomas Pynchon and the intellect of William Gibson. --Winnipeg Free Press on ANATHEM"

Blending quantum physics, phenomenological philosophy and various other fun hobbies...Stephenson s enthusiasm to share his theories and explanations is infectious...think The Name of the Rose crossed with Dune ...genuinely fascinating brain food. --The Oregonian (Portland) on ANATHEM"

Stephenson writes in twists and turns, double-backs and cul-de-sacs, winding tunnels and fast-moving tracks. It s a Rube Goldberg sort of book: intricate, sometimes difficult to follow but always fascinating to read. --Grand Rapids Press on ANATHEM"

Anathem duly marries extensive dialogues on quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness to literal cliffhangers, hi-tech warfare and derring-do. --Leicester Mercury on ANATHEM"

Anathem is a challenge: Make yourself one of the avout. Make yourself a scholar, and try to understand the world a little differently. --Eugene Weekly on ANATHEM"

Stephenson displays his ingenuity when it comes to mixing science, sociology and satire with swashbuckling adventure. Anathem marries extensive scientific and philosophical dialogues to cliffhangers, hi-tech warfare and derring-do. --Sunday Sun (UK) on ANATHEM"

It s almost impossible to not be impressed by Anathem; there s simply too much erudition, wit, craft and risk-taking. --San Francisco Chronicle on ANATHEM"

In Anathem, Stephenson creates a religion for skeptics and nerds. --Austin American-Statesman on ANATHEM"

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. --London Times on ANATHEM"

Anyone who has read Stephenson s Baroque Cycle will be familiar with his ingenuity when it comes to mixing science, sociology and satire with swashbuckling adventure, and ANATHEM duly marries extensive dialogues on quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness to literal cliffhangers, high-tech warfare and general derring-do. --The Examiner (Ireland) on ANATHEM"

As with Stephenson s previous work, plot and character are wrought to the highest standards of literary fiction but they re scarcely as fascinating as the worlds he conjures up. If there s anything more readable than ANATHEM it should probably be banned. --Word (UK) on ANATHEM"

Learned, witty, weirdly torqued, emotionally complex, politically astute, and often darkly comic ANATHEM is an audacious work by a highly intelligent imagination, a delightfully learned text. --Edmonton Journal (Alberta) on ANATHEM"

A daring feat of speculative fiction ANATHEM offers the reader a luscious arrangement of words, jokes, and speculations. --Boston Globe"

This is a book about science and philosophy which demands the full concentration of the reader -a worthwhile, smart, exciting read. --Time Out London"

A tour-de-force of world building and high-concept speculation, wrapped around a page-turning plot. --St. Louis Post-Dispatch on ANATHEM"

[R]avishingly brilliant, outrageously ambitious ANATHEM is thought-provoking fun, at turns a post-graduate seminar of philosophy and physics, and a rousing yarn with characters you care about. --Orlando Sentinel on ANATHEM"

Suddenly, novels of ideas are cool again. --io9 on ANATHEM"

The world Stephenson builds is richly visual, its complicated social politics are convincingly detailed, and its cool and conflicted heroes struggle with thrilling intellectual puzzles while they are tested in epic physical adventures. --Slate, Best of 2008 List, on ANATHEM"

[R]avishingly brilliant, outrageously ambitious Stephenson embarks on a mission of world-building, and he is thoroughly successful at it. --South Florida Sun Sentinel on ANATHEM"

"Blending quantum physics, phenomenological philosophy and various other fun hobbies...Stephenson's enthusiasm to share his theories and explanations is infectious...think "The Name of the Rose" crossed with "Dune..".genuinely fascinating brain food."--The Oregonian (Portland) on ANATHEM --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The latest magnificent creation from the award-winning author of Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle trilogy.

'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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Product description

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Quicksilver TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Neal Stephenson's house-brick size novels are always constructed in meticulous detail, and 'Anathem' is no exception. Unfortunately, his painstaking (laborious?) attention to detail can, for some, make his novels impenetrable, but if you enjoyed Cryptonomicon or The Baroque Cycle, then you will almost certainly like 'Anathem' too. If you are new to Stephenson, then I wouldn't start here - he seems to be becoming increasingly less accessible. Go back at least as far as Cryptonomicon and begin there.

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.
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Anathem starts in a world that feels like a medieval monastery, or should that be a university? It is a community ruled by a clock that is wound once a day. The story is told by Fraa Erasmus who is a member of the team of avouts who wind it. Rituals are at the core of this world but in the place of religion th there is the study of mathematics. As the story progresses you realise that within the one institution there are a number of schools of thought called maths. But this institution has been in continuous existence for over 3,000 years and exploits something called new matter that is very high technology.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Anathem was a complete surprise to me. I had deliberately avoided reading anything about the book before I bought it, willing to trust the author to come up with another excellent novel comparable to Snow Crash, The Diamond Age or Cryptonomicon.

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.
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By D. Jones #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Oct. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
If you like your books to double up as a door stopper, then this 928 page monster fits the bill. I would recommend you read it first though!

The book is based on an alternate world where most of the scientists, philosophers and mathematicians live in monk-like isolation from the rest of the population. This circumstance has lasted for thousands of years. These people have an extreme sense of their own history and refer to events that happened thousands of years ago as if it were yesterday. The author emphasises this by frequent reference to an ancient 'dictionary' of terms, ostensibly to help the reader, but has the intended effect of suggesting a deeply complex civilisation.

He also invents many words for the technology in this world 'jeejah' (mobile / tablet) but you can easily guess the actual equivalent word in English.

That is the easy bit. Stephenson then adds spice by using many well known philosophical threads to differentiate between each 'sect'. The story includes lots of discourse between the various sects and characters, who put forth arguments to prove their point of view. It will help if you are on at least on nodding terms with modern philosophy; it doesn't matter of course, but the dialogues will make more sense.

But this is still not enough for the author, he adds the consequence of quantum mechanics in the form of the 'many-worlds' theory to the story. Indeed this is the backbone of the whole book.

The story itself flows along easily from page to page and you always feel you want to get to the next bit. The main protagonist is 'Fraa' (Brother) Erasmas who narrates his story.
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