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Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Anathem (2008)

by Neal Stephenson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,106188876 (4.21)1 / 282
  1. 181
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (Jesse_wiedinmyer, vnovak, szarka)
  2. 150
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (the_awesome_opossum)
    the_awesome_opossum: The plot and writing are really similar: a dense and complex mystery/thriller set in a monastery. The Name of the Rose is historical fiction, not sci fi, but if you enjoyed the complicated and weighty plot, Name of the Rose would also be good… (more)
  3. 110
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (BriarE)
  4. 110
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Wova4)
  5. 60
    The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse (bertilak)
  6. 62
    The City & the City by China Miéville (chmod007)
    chmod007: Both novels depict coexisting-but-dissociated societies — drastically foreign to the world we live in — but help us reflect on it.
  7. 51
    Embassytown by China Miéville (bertilak)
    bertilak: Miéville has written a philosophical science fiction novel that rocks and is not bloated: Stephenson please take note.
  8. 41
    Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco (freddlerabbit)
    freddlerabbit: See the Name of the Rose recommendation above - I find Foucault's even more analogous here because Name of the Rose is a bit more plot-driven than the other two, where Foucault's and Anathem both have as much as 40% pure theory-disguised-as-dialogue.… (more)
  9. 30
    Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (Jesse_wiedinmyer)
  10. 30
    The Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand (bertilak)
  11. 20
    Excession by Iain M. Banks (elenchus)
    elenchus: Banks also introduces the "out of context" problem central to Anathem, but in a wildly different plot, and universe. Banks is less ontology and more space opera, but I found both books very entertaining, and both Stephenson and Banks sensitive to political questions raised by their respective plots.… (more)
  12. 43
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (SiSarah)
  13. 00
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (quartzite)
    quartzite: Both books deal with key groups of people preparing to meet alien cultures with a bit of theology and philosophy thrown in.
  14. 11
    Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon (MarkYoung)
  15. 00
    Relativity, space time and geometrodynamics by John Archibald Wheeler (bertilak)
  16. 00
    Finity by John Barnes (szarka)
  17. 12
    Parallel Worlds : A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku (bertilak)
  18. 26
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (SiSarah)
    SiSarah: While Anathem is science fiction and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is historical fantasy, they share many themes in common (the nature and value of knowledge and study, the responsibilities of those who possess such knowledge, contact with a strange yet familiar "other" civilization). They both stretch the bounds of their genres and have deceptively simple plots that unfold slowly, and have great depth to the writing.… (more)

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English (185)  German (2)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All languages (189)
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
Started, but did not finish. Need to re-visit.
  dgooler | Jul 1, 2014 |
It was hard to come up with a rating for Anathem... I couldn't decide between giving it 3 stars or 5, so I settled in the middle :)
I would give it 5 stars for its originality and its richness. I would give it 3 stars because the language was a barrier for me, I struggled a lot with it, and I didn't enjoyed it as much as I suppose I would have enjoyed it if English were my first language. ( )
  chaghi | Jun 1, 2014 |
Can't believe I ended up really liking this, but I ended up really liking this! The painfully slow introduction of an entire world history and philosophical viewpoint (literally) one definition at a time actually served a purpose and paid off in the end. I'll actually give this a second reading some day - I feel like there's a lot I missed because I was just not into it during the first 2/3rds of the book. ( )
  kwjr | May 18, 2014 |
I put off reading this book for quite a while, mostly due to its size and the fact that I was never able to get through Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. I'm glad I eventually took the plunge. Yes, Stephenson spends pages on exposition but I don't mind that at all when the world being explained is interesting and well-considered. I enjoyed the story too, which was a nice surprise as the back-cover synopsis also had turned me off. ( )
  ub1707 | May 5, 2014 |
If you've read Hofstadter's "Godel, Escher & Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" (and if you haven't, you should!), then the themes of this novel will be familiar: the nature of the mind and its connection to the physical body; the nature of time, space and frames of reference -- all wrapped up in a science fiction novel where theoretical science plays the role that the monastery played during the Dark Ages. The author deliberately changes names and vocabulary: you will need the glossary in the back. I've wondered why he felt it necessary to use new words for old concepts. I guess it's because he wants the reader to doubt his own understanding of familiar concepts; to make us pay attention and look at these ideas with "new" eyes. Sharpen your imagination, if you plan to read this book. Much of this nearly 1,000 page novel is description, and I found myself having to slow way down and create images in my head. Otherwise, I got lost. Stephenson has once again produced a tour de force. A writer who doesn't dumb down narrative for the reader, and expects the reader to work as hard as he does. Worth many rereads. ( )
  KirkLowery | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
Seen through the eyes of a young ascetic named Erasmas, the universe of “Anathem” and its properties are revealed methodically over hundreds of pages, and at first, there is much joy to be found in watching this plausible other reality assemble itself and in observing how it parallels our own.

Too much of the book is dominated by lengthy dialectical debates, whose conclusions are hardly earth-shattering (if you are reading this review, I suspect you already know how to divide a rectangular cake into eight equal servings) and which do little to promote a reader’s engagement with the characters of ­“Anathem,” any more than one cares about the interior lives of Pausanias or Eryximachus while reading “The Symposium.” What’s worse, the book’s fixation on dialogue leads Erasmas (and Stephenson) to simply tell us what is happening or has happened in pivotal scenes, instead of allowing us to see the events for ourselves through descriptive action.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Dave Itzkoff (Oct 17, 2008)
The only catch to reading a novel as imposingly magnificent as this is that for the next few months, everything else seems small and obvious by comparison.
Stephenson's world-building skills, honed by the exacting work he did on his recent Baroque Cycle trilogy, are at their best here. Anathem is that rarest of things: A stately novel of ideas packed with cool tech, terrific fight scenes, aliens, and even a little ESP.
added by PhoenixTerran | editio9, Annalee Newitz (Sep 4, 2008)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, TaviaMinor Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrano, ErvinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stutz, DavidComposersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyman, OliverMinor Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Do your neighbors burn one another alive?" was how Fraa Orolo began his conversation with Artisan Flec.
"Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs," I said. "We have a protractor."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061474096, Hardcover)

For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world. 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—and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Raz, a mathematician, is among a cohort of secluded scientists and philosophers who are called upon to save the world from impending catastrophe.

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