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Anathem (2008)

by Neal Stephenson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,758276976 (4.17)1 / 409
Raz, a mathematician, is among a cohort of secluded scientists and philosophers who are called upon to save the world from impending catastrophe.
Recently added byDennisMello, librarythingfan1, Brian-B, private library, hackrdog, ariel1234987
  1. 221
    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
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (BriarE)
  4. 140
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Wova4)
  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
    The Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand (bertilak)
  9. 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)
  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
    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)
  16. 00
    Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by R.F. Kuang (Cecrow)
  17. 00
    The Just City by Jo Walton (Cecrow)
  18. 00
    The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson (Mind_Booster_Noori)
  19. 22
    Parallel Worlds : A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos by Michio Kaku (bertilak)
  20. 00
    Finity by John Barnes (szarka)

(see all 25 recommendations)


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» See also 409 mentions

English (274)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (277)
Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)
Not my kinda book. Was all math and church as far as I got. Love his other stuff though! ( )
  Brian-B | Nov 30, 2022 |
While I don't think this is one of [a:Neal Stephenson|545|Neal Stephenson|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1314902446p2/545.jpg]s best, it definitely makes for a good read. It took me quite a few stops though as it features a lot of "new" (made up) language which irritated me quite a bit. After a plane ride where I was finally bored enough to read enough to get into the actual story, there was no turning back. ( )
  pontusfreyhult | Nov 28, 2022 |
Anathem may have beat out Diamond Age for the position of my favorite Stephenson book. The start was somewhat slow, and it takes awhile to get use to all the made up vocabulary the book uses, but the effort is worth it. Once I got into the book, I was hooked, and I made it through the ~900 pages in about a week.

One thing I liked about Anathem was the main character, Raz. He was not the smartest or the strongest or the best leader, although he did have each of these skills to some degree. What made Raz special was that he did what needed to be done, mixed with a little of being in the right place at the right time. Something about the character really appealed to me. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
Anathem illustrates, with lush visuals and unimpeded intellect, a fascinating and attractive society comprising the best constructs from human history.

Or, spoiler alert, vice versa!

This novel starts with a satisfying plot whose stakes rise to keep the reader sprinting on this hedonistic treadmill, all the while taking time to define and contextualize non-trivial philosophical, mathematical and scientific phenomena. ( )
  quavmo | Jun 26, 2022 |
The protagonist's (and, with increasing clarity across his career, the author's) contempt for 'baseline' people and the book's increasingly ridiculous deification of academics is embarrassing. The world building is fun and the plot is engaging, but the major mystery is whether the cloying fetishization of intelligence is primarily cynical audience flattery or troubling personality defect. ( )
  cathect | Mar 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 274 (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
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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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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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