Review: Anathem by Neal StephensonNeal Stephenson’s speculations on language and philosophy impress Christopher Brookmyre. 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. 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.

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The American novelist has long been considered one of the great madmen of science fiction, a towering intellect who synthesizes technical mumbo-jumbo and a Monty-Pythonesque capacity for silliness into daunting tomes as entertaining as they are impenetrable. For the fids of Saunt Stephenson this book will be everything they could have hoped for.

Review: Anathem by Neal Stephenson

I’ve certainly read a lot of new books, too. Similarly, “Saunt” is a bit like saint but could be applied equally to Augustine or Einstein. If not already as wtephenson manifested footnotes in printed editions, so at least in the Ebook as optional fade-in and fade-out hyperlinks for keywords or at the end of each page.

They do their best stephenso create the young, pedantic and nerdy voices of the young avouts. It features four different narrators Oliver Wyman, Tavia Gilbert, William Dufris, and Neal Stephenson doing glossary definitions at the start of each chapterand the characters are given distinct voices and personalities. This might be fun reading if stephemson are in to cracking the code, but I had enough of the gist of it that there seemed to be no need.

Already you can see there’s alot more going on here than just the story.

Views Read Edit View history. Newton and the other proto-scientists of the Baroque “Royal Society” always saw their pursuits as an offshoot of religion; it’s only been in the last years that science has taken on a reputation as being an abomination to God, as the insane efficiency of the scientific process theorize, test, observe, record without bias has meant a profoundly fast increase in scientific sophistication, to the point where scientists must now spend their entire lives studying the specific pursuit they mean to make their career just to get caught up, and now not just observe nature in action but actively manipulate it, thus “playing God” in the eyes of many instead of merely worshipping God through natural observation.

I recommend this to people who love alternative worlds, physics, philosophy and science. Stephenson’s wry contempt for today’s just-Google-it mindset. When their gates are closed, these concents are sealed off almost entirely from the saecular world: Cover of the hardcover first edition, featuring an analemma behind the author’s name.


The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon are fantastic techie epics who else would think to pit Confucianism against Victorianism in the battlefield of nanotechnology? ErasmasLioArsibaltJesryOrolo And thus does yet another entire three thousand years pass, three thousand years of “future history” that haven’t actually happened on Earth yet, where humanity ends up progressing in two distinctly different ways; how the Saecular world essentially becomes a neverending chaos of revolutions and superstitions, a Second Dark Age ruled by an alliance of brain-dead tech worshippers and traditional Evangelicals, where skyscrapers and post-apocalyptic wars come and go faster than people can even keep track, while the Mathic monasteries become timeless closed citadels of pure theoretical thought, where monks master such impossibly dense subjects as quantum mechanics and genetic manipulation using nothing more than chalk marks on slate, stick drawings in the dirt.

I feel a little sad for the reviewer that he stopped reading at about page 80 though. Casti’s The Cambridge Quintet, which is to say that it is a fictional framework for exploring ideas that have sprung from the minds of great thinkers of Earth’s past and present.

Anathem – Wikipedia

The discursions are somewhat held in check here, and always related to the story in some way, even if it doesn’t seem so at times. It blew me away with its epic length, its fascinating, multi-layered plot, znathem occasional moments of unexpected, gut-busting hilarity, and its clear, incisive writing, which was often put to use i EDIT: None of the little story arcs have particularly worthwhile strphenson, and whenever you think that the story is about to become interesting it collapses again and simply pitters out.

However, it’s hard to tell where the overarching plot of the book is taking us. A book I will definitely read a second time in a few years and then hopefully a third time, several years later. The characters talk on and on about the Hylaean Theoric World, but it is never clear exactly what the term means. Martin Lewis lives in East London.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

I have a feeling most readers will welcome the parts I didn’t like though, and I can’t imagine he would sell nearly as well if he locked up his novels solely in the realm of history and theory, but when he does stay in that ‘boring’ land he really does an excellent job.

Societal implications are caricaturing the sober reflections of previous models of politics, economics, and religion. In the spectrum of this genre of philosophy novel, Stephenson’s novel finds itself closer to philosophy and further from a narrative-driven novel.

But there reading Anathem also comes with a patina of frustration. We just call him Razzie unless he gets a full-name telling-off for humping his little brother.


Michael Dirda of The Washington Post disagreed, remarking that ” Anathem will certainly be admired for its intelligence, ambition, control and ingenuity”, but describing it as “fundamentally unoriginal”, “grandiose, overwrought and pretty damn dull. Only the aliens turn out not to be so alien, but rather to demand that you turn your attention back to quantum dynamics wake up at the back, there!

To be fair some of the comparisons to the ridiculous issues anathsm modern society did make smile at how the author spun it but the ratio of reading to a smile or a that’s an interesting point moment were too few and far between. The parts of suspense, and of danger I found tiresome. The book is not easy to synopsize, though I am tempted to just write “Monks vs Aliens!

It’s the size of a breeze block, nearly as long and nearly as difficult as Roger Penrose’s Road to Reality: You cannot run a marathon if you didn’t go through a proper training. Godmode has been reached.

In the realm of the avout

Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. The avout fraas and suurs live in concents convents where one concentrates or “maths”, and are more or less indistinguishable from our medieval monks and anaathem, except that science is their religion. For more information, see our about page. The concept of a monkish society that lives only for theory, feared but revered by the outside world with their bullshit language and mundane pursuits was great, kind of like Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game sgephenson, but without the trippy kind of Eastern Religious undertones.

I discovered Neal Stephenson with “Cryptonomicon”, which was published almost a decade ago now. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review.

What impressed me the most is that the author respects his readers and give us a anathe, of credit to be able to follow his complex story and settings. Then I realized that his way gave him more freedom to tweak the truth, combine multiple people and theories into one when it suited him, and let him escape some know it all saying, but that isn’t exactly right.

Orolo sacrifices his life to ensure the safety of the dead stfphenson remains and her blood samples, an event that leads to his canonization as Saunt Orolo.

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