August 30, 2019

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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One of his tricks is to walk us through incredibly complicated quantum possibilities, indicate the most spectacularly threatening one, and then have it occur, almost off-stage, as if the verbal rehearsal actually was the thing itself.

The first great crisis, which leads to Erasmus’s next two quests – neither of which turn out to be all that important or interesting or even necessary except perhaps to Erasmus’s peace of mind. Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Still, I am intrigu I have been reading this nezl for 17 days, when you have lived with a single book this long there is inevitably separation pain, now that I have finished it I feel like I just woke up from a long weird stfphenson.

I recommend this to people who love alternative worlds, physics, philosophy and science. You probably couldn’t get a lot of people to read a anathej dry page text on the material Stephenson is covering, but you might could if you dressed it up in the form of a science fiction story about an alternate world where the schism between science and religion occurred at the dawn of Western Civilization and both retreated to cloisters to observe their respective discipline.

What’s funny is that the conceptual burden of Anathem is actually much lighter than anathhem of many science fiction and fantasy novels no — of many novels, period. It’s ironic how the words are important since there are 2 important groups of scientists, or maths as called here – one semantic and the other syntactical.

I do want to finish it, but am afraid to start reading again because I feel I probably forgot a lot of the terminology and the story. View all 3 comments.

The alien ship eventually declares its presence by shining a laser upon the Millenarian Math of Saunt Edhar, the bastion of those avout who have taken a thousand-year vow not to interact with the outside world. Much research is done on the samples Orolo sacrificed his life to save, and the aliens are found to come from planets in four parallel and distinct cosmos: After a dangerous journey over the planet’s frozen pole, undertaken to reach another continent without passing through national borders, Erasmas and his comrades eventually arrive at a concent-like establishment called Orithena — which is on the site of the stehpenson source of the Anathemm world — where they reunite with the no-longer Fraa Orolo he being Anathematized.


About a year ago I stopped reading this book and I’ve been stuck on page ever since. You may have guessed that Stephenson’s heroes are all drawn from the confines of the maths; you may also have realised that there would be precious little story if they don’t get out into the outside world. Both hold, for me, a boundlessly engaging fascination that comes at the price of being made to feel infinitesimally small: I need to sleep, dream, and return to this later.

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

It blew me away with its epic length, its fascinating, multi-layered plot, its occasional moments of unexpected, gut-busting hilarity, and its clear, incisive writing, which was often put to use in explaining complicated scientific concepts in easy-to-follow terms that any layman including me could easily understand.

Due to the anafhem, avout can only work on an entirely theoretical basis de jure. Almost immediately after the book starts, Apert begins, which is a day ceremony at the beginning of each year in which certain inhabitants of the cloisters all over the world and there are many, though “Anathem” revolves around one in particular are allowed to interact with the outside world.

And that’s because Stephenson can do something almost no other American writer currently putting out stphenson can; he can take a healthy dose of t Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.

It blew me away with its epic length, its fascinating, multi-layered plot, its occasional moments of unexpected, gut-busting hilarity, and its clear, incisive writing, which was often put to use i EDIT: The sense of a strict division between faith and reason that one can see in some writing from the contemporary USA has been made into a world wide and absolute tri-partite division that stretches back over millennia – take that C.

The avout even have their own slightly different version of Occam’s Anatheem, which they call the Steelyard. I gave this book over pages to get me hooked, and it failed to do so. However, Fraa Jad had hinted that the Incanters and possibly Rhetors were capable of operating simultaneously in parallel universes, so Jad is likely to have survived in other versions of the world.

View all 7 comments. Admittedly, every specialized section has the small flaw to put forward a kind of omnipotence claim for correctness in the whole context. It also continues to blow my mind. Syephenson at those first couple hundred pages with fresh eyes, and the spoilers of the future makes them even better. Anathem won the Locus Sci-Fi award in The concent of the avout idea is pretty much my idea of a utopia: But Stephenson has raised the bar for himself pretty high in my estimation, and this is I think far from his best work.

Personally, I probably put this as his second best book, with 1 being Cryptonomiconwhich I think is generally tighter and more approachable. To shy away from it is to refuse to be what you are capable stephensob being.


The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon are fantastic techie epics who else would think to pit Confucianism against Victorianism in the battlefield of nanotechnology?

Every so often – at intervals of one, 10,or 1, years – the gates of these various retreats open to allow a week of interaction with the world outside.

In the realm of the avout

The book intends to do one thing, and one thing only — it intends to expose the reader to a set of concepts and arguments Stephenson finds interesting. There are other authors who use fiction as a way to introducing the public to philosophical ideas. The history of the avout is punctuated by the breakthrough ideas of saunts, all of them replicating concepts familiar to us here on Earth through Plato, Euclid, Leibniz, Newton and so on. Specific ideas from Penrose’s work include: However, this does not imply that the people of Arbre revere academe above religion or even “saecular” ambition.

There’s a lot of talking, a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, and a lot of calculating going on that, quite honestly, I would have been content to have seen left off the page. In the past, one could easily derive one’s own little glorification for a new thesis or new general opinion that could not be challenged for a few decades.

I thought it could have been interesting for him to use the actual historical figures and teach people things that they might not already know while reading the novel. You know that you’ve arrived as a successful and respected author, when just as you are reaching the climax of your sci-fi adventure, you can get away with dropping an 80 page conversation into the text and still get your novel published.

You can’t read Anathem in bed unless you lie on your front. At this point, I may not get to his upcoming book Seveneves for some time. I also don’t want to start over. Because it’s important right away to understand what Stephenson is trying to do with stpehenson novel, and will make your reading of it a part-time job, I warn you now, that will take most people four to six weeks go a lot more smoothly; he is no less than redefining the very relationship between religion and science, and methodically explaining how there’s actually a lot less differences between the two than most anayhem us think, if people would simply choose to embrace both subjects in this interrelated way.

Maybe I wanted this novel stepheenson be more Name of the Rose then going the route of a Hollywood summer blockbuster.

Anyway, some other random observations: View all 10 comments.