Brenda Cooper

Reading Recommendation: Anathem (Neal Stephenson)

I just finished Anathem.  It was a marathon read.  I read it across my Kindle (easy on the eyes) and the softback (hard for me; getting old!) and the audio book (awesome.   Well-read and well-produced).

I hated it at the beginning.  Slow, ponderous.  But once I got into it, the world is so deep and so exact it was a pleasure to be inside.  I felt like I lived on the planet Arbre.

I had to work for it.  There is a lot of stuff in there you have to actually think about it.  At least I had to- key concepts were presented in conversation between characters that would have been native to my college philosophy classes, but which don’t happen in daily life.

But my, the sense-of-wonder.  This is what I read science fiction for – the absolute awe of world-spanning ideas, especially when they come all mixed up with philosophy and physics.  I wish I had time to re-read it.  Like, right away.

I probably will re-read it someday.  I felt sorry when it ended, although I found the end quite satisfying.

4 Responses so far

  1. 1. C.E. Grayson

    Had the exact same experience. The beginning was a bit of a slog, but then, when I’d been in the world enough that it starts to make sense (for me, this was bout the time of Apert), I was so absorbed in it that I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in, I think, about four days.

    I also liked the love story, and found it nicely low-key and realistic, but very touching. That might be because I married someone very much like Ala.

  2. 2. Rick York

    “Anathem” is a stunning work of art.

    In fact, if you look at Stephenson’s total work, you are working through a most astonishing intellectual journey. I know that it’s huge but, if you make the time, the Baroque Trilogy may be one of the most complete intellectual histories of the period in which our western civilization was created.

  3. 3. brenda

    I tried on the Baroque Cycle. I really did. I’ve read everything else he’s written. But I couldn’t finish those books. I don’t know why – I could tell they were good. Maybe because it’s hard for me to find whole days to do nothing but read any more.

  4. 4. brenda

    Well, yes, it was rather a sweet love story. Very low key but very real. It also really felt a love affair with knowledge, and yet a reach beyond what we see as science today today. Fraa Jad was a fabulous character.