Anathem by Neal StephensonAnathem by Neal Stephenson


byNeal Stephenson

Mass Market Paperback | August 25, 2009

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A #1 New York Times Bestseller, Anathem is perhaps the most brilliant literary invention to date from the incomparable Neal Stephenson, who rocked the world with Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and The Baroque Cycle. Now he imagines an alternate universe where scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians live in seclusion behind ancient monastery walls until they are called back into the world to deal with a crisis of astronomical proportions.


Anathem won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and the reviews for have been dazzling: “Brilliant” (South Florida Sun-Sentinel), “Daring” (Boston Globe), “Immensely entertaining” (New York Times Book Review), “A tour de force” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), while Time magazine proclaims, “The great novel of ideas…has morphed into science fiction, and Neal Stephenson is its foremost practitioner.”

Neal Stephenson is the author ofReamde,Anathem, and the three-volume historical epic the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver,The Confusion, andThe System of the World), as well asCryptonomicon,The Diamond Age,Snow Crash, andZodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
Title:AnathemFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:1008 pages, 6.75 × 4.19 × 1.51 inPublished:August 25, 2009Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:006147410X

ISBN - 13:9780061474101


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Conceptualism at its best! This is far and away the best book I've ever read. That said, I would not recommend it to most people, as it is mentally exhausting. It is 900 pages, and they are dense, complex pages filled with long internalizations by the main character and detailed descriptions of structures unlike anything on this planet. Regarding subject, it feels like if Plato was born again and wrote modern fiction, this is what he'd write, but with more advanced math. In fact, I don't recommend this book to anyone who does not maintain an interest in Philosophy or Mathematics. That said, if you have the patience and the stamina for a book that requires your total attention for a long time, and you have an interest in looking at the universe from unusual perspectives, then this can be an incredibly rewarding read, as it was for me. I typically give 5 stars to books that totally change the way I look at the world. This book did that for me on a visceral level on 3 or 4 separate occasions. Neal Stephenson is a ground breaking author and this is considered one of his best works, so if you have the time and the will to have your worldview completely turned inside out, put this at the top of your list (do NOT if you want a beach read :)).
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another ambitious novel from Stephenson About 8 years after its release, I finally read Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I had borrowed this from a friend when it came out, and it sat on my desk for weeks with little progress. And another time, I borrowed it from the library and had little better luck. My main problem was the language Stephenson uses in the book. But this time, I persevered through the slight confusion and once you get over the initial learning curve of the language, its a great novel. The main character of this book is a Fraa named Erasmas. I'd say he isn't the smartest of his brothers & sisters and this makes him an excellent narrator for the story. It allows you to discover the mysteries of the novel as the story progresses. Despite how boring it may sound, the novel really is at its best when Erasmas is conversing with his peers about mathematical proof, quantum mechanics or logic. And when he leaves the mathic world and is without his own kind as a foil, I felt the pace of the novel struggled. The world Stephenson created for this book is unreal. Without giving away something that I felt was a big reveal, he expertly created a monastery lifestyle in a science fiction world. The historic timeline at the beginning of the book is all but useless. It should have been at the back of the book with the indispensable glossary. Even though I read certain words numerous times, I always found myself referring to the glossary. But as you progress through the novel, it does become easier and it feels great when that happens. I'm glad I finally finished this very intelligent and enthralling book. It didn't quite hit the same level as Snow Crash or Cryptonomicon but it was still excellent.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favorite book Anathem is the best reading investment I've ever made. Anathem's world is similar to ours but with its own incredibly robust history, philosophy, religion, and science. As a result, the first 200 pages will be a bit slower going for new readers as they reference the incredibly detailed glossary of word definitions and historical events. Getting through these 200 pages and growing comfortable with the terminology is the investment readers will make in Anathem. But what an incredible payoff that investment yields. The plot is designed so that it fully takes off at almost exactly the same moment readers grow comfortable with the world building and terminology. When it takes off, it takes off at full-throttle, with a gripping, globe-trotting adventure filled with memorable characters, and twists and turns in the plot that never feel out-of-place or forced. It becomes the most intelligent can't-put-it-down thriller you've ever read. I reached the end of the book wanting more stories in this incredible world that Stephenson has built. If you put in the time needed to get to know this incredible world, I promise you will too.
Date published: 2014-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! Really good story, lots of philosophical discussion that was really fun to read ( believe it)!
Date published: 2014-08-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Easy to appreciate, hard to enjoy Anathem represents my second encounter with the genius of Neal Stephenson (third, if you count my aborted read of Quicksilver), and I can honestly say that while the reading experience does not get any easier, there is the same sense of satisfaction waiting at the end. More dense, less accessible, and somehow not as interesting as Cryptonomicon, it's a book that almost violently defies categorization. I find it a really difficult book to review. The university-educated, critical reading, spectacle-wearing intellectual who lies deep within me wants to award it five stars for its sheer audacity, limitless depths of esoteric concepts, and laudable efforts to make math interesting. It really is a book to be admired as much for what it sets out to accomplish as for the skill behind it. However, the tired, overworked, long-haired geek in search of entertainment who resides a bit closer to my surface is struggling to award it any more than two stars for the brief, fitful glimpses of story hidden between the concepts. There's a really exciting novella buried here, but it would take an entire concent another millennium to unearth it. More than anything else, I guess my problem is its all just so boring. Plot developments are so few and far between, it feels like the story never moves ahead. 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. Yes, it's interesting and, yes, I can honestly say I learned a few things, but they were hard lessons. By the times the aliens actually appear, I'd honestly forgotten that there were aliens in the book, and by the time we get to the revelations about Fraa Erasmas . . . well, I'd stopped caring. It took me nearly a year of on again/off again reading to get through it, and it was more a sense of obligation that kept dragging me back than any real desire to get back into the story. The book never really grabbed my attention, and simply didn't offer my any incentive to keep reading. I feel bad, because there's a nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me I should appreciate it more, but appreciation is not the same as enjoyment, and therein lies the rub.
Date published: 2012-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Challenging & Rewarding read Even for someone who reads many SF novels the first 100 pages are hard to get through (think of a prison/monastery setting where they study math & philosophy). If you can persevere, the layers of complexity unfold into a page turning read. If you enjoy complex SF you will be sorry to find yourself on the last page with no more to read.
Date published: 2010-03-27

Editorial Reviews

[R]avishingly brilliant, outrageously ambitious…Stephenson embarks on a mission of world-building, and he is thoroughly successful at it.”