HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Anathem (2008)

by Neal Stephenson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,2912901,034 (4.17)1 / 418
Raz, a mathematician, is among a cohort of secluded scientists and philosophers who are called upon to save the world from impending catastrophe.
  1. 231
    A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (Jesse_wiedinmyer, vnovak, szarka)
  2. 191
    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. 140
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Wova4)
  4. 140
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (BriarE)
  5. 80
    The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse (bertilak)
  6. 70
    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)
  7. 72
    Embassytown by China Miéville (bertilak, g33kgrrl)
    bertilak: Miéville has written a philosophical science fiction novel that rocks and is not bloated: Stephenson please take note.
  8. 50
    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)
  9. 50
    The Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand (bertilak)
  10. 30
    Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (Jesse_wiedinmyer)
  11. 30
    Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (Mind_Booster_Noori)
  12. 20
    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.
  13. 53
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (SiSarah)
  14. 65
    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.
  15. 00
    Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by R.F. Kuang (Cecrow)
  16. 00
    The Just City by Jo Walton (Cecrow)
  17. 00
    Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman (themulhern)
    themulhern: Stephenson himself remarked that Anathem was a book about how people don't read books anymore. Moreover, there is a delightfully satirical sequence in which the characters are discusses serious things over food at a rest stop, and the narrator is repeatedly distracted by images on the speelies that are incoherent yet commanding. Later, the protagonist realizes that one of these images was relevant, and there is another bit of satire.… (more)
  18. 00
    The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson (Mind_Booster_Noori)
  19. 00
    Relativity, space time and geometrodynamics by John Archibald Wheeler (bertilak)
  20. 00
    Evolution's Shore by Ian McDonald (themulhern)
    themulhern: Another book in which the aliens appear with unknown motivations. Here, though, the context is a very contemporary Earth, and so the speculation is much more about the here and now. It spawned a series of which I have not read the rest.

(see all 26 recommendations)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

» See also 418 mentions

English (289)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (293)
Showing 1-5 of 289 (next | show all)
This is a book that reminds me why scifi is my favorite genre. Good scifi holds a mirror to our society, then shatters your perceptions. Like all Stephenson it's difficult to describe but it brings together philosophy & physics in a beautiful and creative way. I'll be thinking about this one for years and years. ( )
  lneukirch | Feb 4, 2024 |
This was a daunting read, but proved to be an absolute blast. I started and got stuck pretty early, but on coming back I was able to pick up the vocabulary and names a lot more easily and blasted through the rest in a few days. To be sure, this seems to happen for me a with a lot of books, so it's hard to say if this is Anathem-specific, but the ride that Stephenson takes you on is absolutely worth it.

I tried describing this book to people and struggled to get it into words, so here's my best shot. Anathem takes place on a planet similar to Earth in a lot of ways, but most notably there are orders of monastic scholars called avout that segregate themselves off from the rest of the world. We spend a good chunk of the book just figuring out how this life works and dealing with relatively petty drama, and then the plot kicks into high gear.

The first thing that distinguishes Anathem for me is the reworking of vocabulary for many common things. While obviously presenting some barrier to entry, I found this impressive because not only did the words seem like they could easily have existed in English, they reflected something interesting about how we privilege the words we happen to use. For example, "theorics" is a catch-all term that distinguishes academic/theoretical study from "praxic" or practical/actionable affairs. I found this to uniquely emphasise the thought-action distinction as central to scholarship, as opposed to the more discipline-based division we tend to talk about with phrases such as physics vs applied physics.

The other big difference is that Anathem is a book that follows nerdy scholars, and so if you happen to like literally having characters describe thought experiments to each other this book will definitely appeal. In particular, the book discusses a great deal topics on the philosophy of consciousness and thought. I have no idea what the analogues or bases are for these discussions in real philosophy, but the effect (combined with the vocabulary thing) is to make you strongly question the foundations of why you think the things you think, or what you consider to be true and real. As the book develops, this quickly becomes a feature of not just the style but the plot, but I won't spoil any more.

So we are left with a beautifully put together, rich world with good characters, infused with a heavy dose of philosophy and science. Anathem is a trip, truly, that will keep you thinking.

P.S. If I'd make one nitpick, it's that there didn't need to be a romantic subplot... ( )
1 vote Zedseayou | Jan 30, 2024 |
Decided to save this for Winter...
  boermsea | Jan 22, 2024 |
Interesting idea, implementation not completely engaging. ( )
  postsign | Dec 28, 2023 |
A very interesting descendant of my all-time favorite book, A Canticle for Leibowitz. It's alternately fascinating, tedious, funny, mystical, and thrilling. Anybody who is a dilettante of philosophy and aerospace engineering should consider this one. Stephenson's imagined societies are ultimately a little too similar to each others' and to ours to achieve that magical strange-yet-plausibility that LeGuin so often does, which was my only real disappointment with the book. ( )
  mmparker | Oct 24, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 289 (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 (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neal Stephensonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, TaviaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gräbener-Müller, JulianeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrano, ErvinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stingl, NikolausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stutz, DavidComposersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyman, OliverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
To my parents
First words
"Do your neighbors burn one another alive?" was how Fraa Orolo began his conversation with Artisan Flec.
Quotations
"Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs," I said. "We have a protractor."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Neal Stephenson's book Anathem was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.17)
0.5 4
1 32
1.5 1
2 91
2.5 12
3 221
3.5 70
4 756
4.5 137
5 865

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 204,073,834 books! | Top bar: Always visible