Anathem

Kindle

English language

Published Nov. 1, 2008 by William Morrow.

ISBN:
978-0-06-147409-5
Copied ISBN!
ASIN:
B0015DPXKI

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (215 reviews)

Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable -- yet strangely inverted -- world.

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside -- …

17 editions

Favorite Stephenson

5 stars

Not as tightly written, plot wise, as Big U or Zodiac, but contains just enough Stephenson-style Cooperesque diversions to be "of a kind" like the Baroque Cycle or Cryptonimocon.

If you want to try reading a Stephenson-style move but don't want to dive into those longer times, you can't beat Anathem.

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

For me this was too long of a book for what was in it.

Frequent references to the thousands of years of history on this not-Earth world and the fact that many key terms are invented words make this a very dense book. Density aside, it's also a very long book.

If you enjoy nerding out with lots of philosophical dialogue using not-quite-English words, you may enjoy this as a book. I suspect this story would well as a movie.

Review of 'Anathem' on 'GoodReads'

4 stars

I first tried reading Anathem back when it was relatively new, but couldn't get past the first 100 pages or so. Now, having the benefit of a decade more worldly knowledge (such as the history of the Catholic church, Western philosophy, etc.), I've finally finished it and I can say that it was an incredible read.

Is it an collection of philosophy dialogue? Is it an action-adventure novel? Is it actually just Snow Crash presented differently?

Yeah, kind of, but it's also a book that gets exponentially more exciting as it goes on and also says some pretty profound things. (The profound things are, unfortunately, fiction, but it would be a high bar for an action-adventure novel to also truly advance philosophy.)

So if you're considering reading this, just know that you shouldn't worry too much about the made-up words - you'll understand them in due time - and that …

Untypisches Buch von Neal Stephenson

5 stars

Untypisches Buch von Neal Stephenson - es spielt nicht auf der Erde sondern auf einer Art Parallelwelt auf der Vieles anders ist. Und es hat eine großteils lineare Handlung. Viel Stephenson-typisches gibt es aber doch: Vor Allem die Detailverliebtheit - er erfindet dafür 3500 Jahre in sich stimmige Kulturgeschichte des Planeten. Ich halte es für ein Meisterwerk - auch wenn ich verstehen warum sich die Begeisterung von so machem Stephenson-Fan eher in Grenzen hält.

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Veel filosofie, theologie, thermodynamica, quantumtheorie, en andere fysica in dit boek. Vooral in het begin worden deze onderwerpen behandeld tijdens discussies in een klooster. Dat maakte de start voor mij vooral doorwroeten, ook omdat Engels niet mijn sterkste kant is. Naar het einde toe zijn deze onderwerpen meer verweven met actie, en dat maakt het dan wat sneller te lezen, en eigenlijk ook begrijpelijker. Het boek is erg origineel, en laat je nadenken over parallele universa, over tijd en ruimte, ingebed in een verhaal, dat beoogd spannend te zijn, maar dat zeker niet altijd is.

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Have you ever read Neal Stephenson? Can you tell when someone is way smarter than you and that compels you to listen? Do you enjoy when you’re confronted with ideas that are so fascinating that you struggle to believe an individual mind came up with them? Does all of that compel you to actually work through reading a book to completion? Then this book is for you!

So far, I’ve only read Seveneves and Anathem by Stephenson. I also picked up Snow Crash but put it down for the same reasons I almost put down Anathem. I walk away from these experiences in awe of the mind that can articulate such complex ideas.

Diax said something that is still very important to us, which is that you should not believe a thing only because you like to believe it. We call that ‘Diax’s Rake’ and sometimes we repeat it to …

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

At the half way point I was completely in love with the setting of this book, I couldn't put it down, and then towards the end it becomes truly mind blowing. The only reason that this isn't a 5/5 for me is that I feel like the ending was satisfying, but it left a lot of things implied without delving into the consequences enough after the fact.

Still a great work of fiction and absolutely recommended.


To elaborate, we spend all of this time building a great world and dealing with the reactions to a sudden alien visitation, and like 90% of the way through we find Rhetors and Incanters are real, which is incredible and yet believable in this completely non-magical world... then after the Convox is evacuated and everyone splits into cells, and the space mission, and Fraa Jad obviously altering the worldtrack into one of the rare …

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

It took three months to read, but really it was done in three rather lengthy marathons with several weeks of not reading it in between.

Overall, a decent story. Very ambitious, and Stephenson's world-building is as good as ever. There were some great parts, and he even managed to make the long discussions mostly bearable.

That said, I had a few problems with the writing. For one thing, Stephenson is not the best word-maker, and his "slang" is hit or miss: "Concent" was the only word that really stuck out as a good invention. While this isn't a huge deal in and of itself, the problem came when characters started discussing complex mathematical/philosophical ideas in unfamiliar terminology.

All of this adds up to the fact that this book probably is one that would need to be re-read a number of times to really "get it." However, while it was enjoyable …

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I liked Anathem. It's a good mix of physics, philosophy and fiction. I don't want to give away too much - I really liked the way things were unraveled slowly and I don't want to deprive anyone reading this review of the same. Don't expect a lot of action. Toil through the first 10% of the book (it was hard for me) and you'll be rewarded. Think of the whole book as a thought experiment.

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

There are often many more words written in review of a book than in the book itself, and judging by many of the comments here, the same can be said about Anathem. I will not add to them, except to say many will be flabbergasted by this book and still many more will think it amazing just because it's a Stephenson and has many imaginative concepts discussed. I fall somewhere between the two. In this narrative I want to be able to reread it in a way which will allow me to understand it better and pursue life long learning in philosophy and cosmology. In another, I put it down after 400 pages and went off and read something else and never grasped the concept of narratives and became a bin man.

Review of 'Anathem' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It took me 3 attempts to finally read this all of the way through. The first few chapters are daunting. Every 3rd word is entirely new to your vocabulary and there's no explanation of most of them. But, like learning a language via immersion, eventually the context makes the terminology clear. Hundreds of pages later, the new vocabulary is integrated and makes sense.

In the end, I enjoyed this book, like I have enjoyed the rest of Stephenson's writing. It entertained, prompted thoughts (and a few upsights) and painted a picture of a richly detailed world. All things I look for in my fiction, particularly anything from the speculative fiction shelf.

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Subjects

  • Life on other planets -- Fiction
  • Disasters -- Fiction
  • Monasteries -- Fiction
  • Philosophy -- Fiction
  • Mathematics -- Fiction

Lists