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Posted on: October 30, 2011

Name : Anathem

Author: Neal Stephenson

Genre : speculative fiction

Pages : 932

Language: English/Orth

Publication Year: 2008-09-09

Is Review Spoiler: No

Movie based on this book : –

Awards : Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 2009.

Rating: 5/5


Anathem is the second novel by Neal Stephenson which I read, third one Snow Crash in queue. First of all Anathem is written different languages, by different I mean it’s written in english and the language Neal Stephenson made up known as Orth.  But the book is mostly written in english expect for some words he uses in many places which he made up. He also provided the glossary of the terms and entries from the Ortho dictionary speckled throughout the book which describes the meaning of those words in different contexts.

Anathem is huge novel with 931 pages (paperback edition) and bit slow in the beginning and it takes around 150+ pages to reach the core plot of the book but though it’s slow in the beginning but I never found it boring. The ideas presented in the book are really interesting and as well as complex and some ideas are explained in the separate supplements provided in the back of the book known as Calca (philosophical or mathematical discussion between two people of differing views). If mathematical or philosophical concepts make you crawl in fear, then you would probably not enjoy Anathem.

The ending in this novel is good compare to his previous novel which I read, Cryptonomicon whose ending was really disappointing. The character development in this novel is very good and I enjoyed the new languages and his ideas. Anathem moves into more theoretical areas by showing how the different ways in which we frame our thoughts have real and powerful impact on the world at large, even if it takes a very long time for those thoughts to produce concrete results/effects.  The story is told from the perspective of Fraa Erasmas. I liked the writing style, the character development and characters in the book are really funny, charming, philosophical and I liked the protagonist, Fraa Erasmus, or Raz, Ala, Jesry, Lio and Orolo.

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—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent’s gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious “extras” in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn’t seen since he was “collected.” But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.

If you have a patience for side-discussions of theorotic/philosophical material, and enjoy theoretical fiction, then this novel is for you, go ahead and read it and damn sure you won’t regret it.

4 Responses to "Anathem"

I’ve got this book, but haven’t started reading it yet. I really liked Cryptonomicon, and recently read Stephenson’s Reamde. I don’t even mind his nerdy infodumping.

I too loved Cryptonomicon and his writing style, howz Reamde?

Reamde was surprisingly accessible and readable. Not nerdy enough for me. my review, if you’re interested:

Ohh.. thanx.. will sure read your review 🙂

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