Shannon's Reviews > Anathem

Anathem by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Jan 23, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, dystopian, fantasy, hugo-winner, philosophy, post-apocalyptic, religion, science-fiction
Read in June, 2012

Excellent choice for a week at the beach. I read it as a natural follow-on to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and A Canticle for Liebowitz. Like both novels, it shares a post-apocalyptic or even cyclic apocalyptic world view. Like Liebowitz, it explores the tension between the literate and illiterate, the scientist and the engineer, and the religious and the secular. But Anathem goes farther. We also get a full review of Philosophy 101, especially Plato (disguised as something else). The exposition, perhaps my favorite part and about 30% of the book, elaborates a system of "concents", communities apart from the secular world which are not religious, but filled with philosophers, mathematicians, and physicists. Then the action begins, thoroughly engaging until about 90% of the way through. After that the whole thing sort of devolves into a pulpy mess and a too-neat ending. But I can forgive the last 10% because the majority was so good.

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