Paul's Reviews > Anathem

Anathem by Neal Stephenson
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's review
Apr 05, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: science-fiction-fantasy, fiction, adventure
Read in April, 2012

Neal Stephenson is an author who spits out fully-realized, deeply plotted and thoroughly intriguing 1,000 page books at a frightening pace. It is not hard to believe that he does so in order to keep his head from exploding from the pressure of the sheer volume of ideas inside it.

In Anathem, we encounter a world divided into the "Saecular" and the "Avout" - respectively, everyday people in a somewhat futuristic world, and a society of thinkers, mathematicians, scientists and the like - who are rigidly segregated from one another as the result of periodic upheavals rooted in fear of the technology and advancement propagated by the latter. The central character, Erasmus, is a young man just beginning his adult life as an Avout, ten years after being "collected", when a series of mysterious - and ultimately world-threatening events - recast him as a central figure in the fate of his entire race.

Anathem is science fiction, it is drama, it is romance, it is philosophy, and it is quantum physics. It is an immersive story in a fully-realized world much like our own - but also more than a bit different - and a tale that moves at it's own pace. There is action, but there is also plenty of dialog and exploration both internal and external, and readers who do not enjoy lengthy asides, the contemplation of profound ideas, and puzzling out the intricacies of the world the author has created will be frustrated by what could conceivably be perceived as fitful pacing and a failure to stay on point. Anathem is sci-fi in the tradition of Asimov and Clarke - everything within it is rooted in things that exist today - and it is a rewarding story for patient readers.

I was a Neal Stephenson fan going in - I have also read and enjoyed Snowcrash, The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon - and I am even more of one for having read Anathem.
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09/12/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2)

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message 2: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Have you started Read Me yet? ;)

Paul Sharon wrote: "Have you started Read Me yet? ;)"

You mean "Reamde"? : ) Not yet. I need to take a break from fiction for a little bit, having just read two 1,000 page novels!

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