Anathem

By Neal Stephenson
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061474095, 960pp.)

Publication Date: September 9, 2008

Other Editions of This Title: Mass Market Paperback

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the September 2008 Indie Next List
“Welcome to a world that only Neal Stephenson could create: math as religion! Amidst a tumult of squabbling, consumerist societies stand a handful of monastic enclaves where logic and science are sacred. When the entire planet is threatened, order and chaos make very strange bedfellows. Anathem is a cerebral romp!”
-- Hap Houlihan, The Morris Book Shop, Lexington, KY


Description

Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable—yet strangely inverted—world.

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." 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.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.




Praise For Anathem

“Clever and intricate...truly ingenious...it’s brilliance is undeniable.”
-Locus, Gary K. Wolfe on ANATHEM

“A masterpiece...mind-bogglingly ambitious...readers will delight in puzzling out the historical antecedents in philosophy, science, mathematics, and art that Stephenson riffs on with his customary quicklsilver genius...it’s one of the most thought-provoking novels I’ve ever read, and also one of the most engaging.”
-Locus, Paul Witcover, on ANATHEM

“Reading Anathem is a humbling experience.”
-Washington Post on ANATHEM

“Blending quantum physics, phenomenological philosophy and various other fun hobbies...Stephenson’s enthusiasm to share his theories and explanations is infectious...think “The Name of the Rose” crossed with “Dune”...genuinely fascinating brain food.”
-The Oregonian (Portland) on ANATHEM

“Stephenson writes in twists and turns, double-backs and cul-de-sacs, winding tunnels and fast-moving tracks. It’s a Rube Goldberg sort of book: intricate, sometimes difficult to follow but always fascinating to read.”
-Grand Rapids Press on ANATHEM

“In Anathem, Stephenson creates a religion for skeptics and nerds.”
-Austin American-Statesman on ANATHEM

“The Seattle writer is kind of a cross between William Gibson and Richard Powers, hard-wired to tell stories, explore technology and riff on anything that catches his fancy.”
-The Oregonian (Portland) on ANATHEM

“Learned, witty, weirdly torqued, emotionally complex, politically astute, and often darkly comic…ANATHEM is an audacious work by a highly intelligent imagination, a delightfully learned text.”
-Edmonton Journal (Alberta) on ANATHEM

“The cult legend’s newest book, Anathem, [is] destined to be an instant sci-fi classic.”
-Popular Mechanics on ANATHEM

“Stephenson displays his ingenuity when it comes to mixing science, sociology and satire with swashbuckling adventure. Anathem marries extensive scientific and philosophical dialogues to cliffhangers, hi-tech warfare and derring-do.”
-Sunday Sun (UK) on ANATHEM

“A magnificent achievement. ”
-Booklist (starred review) on ANATHEM

“Anathem is a challenge: Make yourself one of the avout. Make yourself a scholar, and try to understand the world a little differently.”
-Eugene Weekly on ANATHEM

“It’s almost impossible to not be impressed by Anathem; there’s simply too much erudition, wit, craft and risk-taking.”
-San Francisco Chronicle on ANATHEM

“[O]ne of Stephenson’s best novels…a captivating blend of culture clash, deductive reasoning and pure action.”
-Columbus Dispatch on ANATHEM

“[R]iveting idea porn.”
-Details on ANATHEM

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

“This is a book about science and philosophy which demands the full concentration of the reader -a worthwhile, smart, exciting read.”
-Time Out London

“Anathem is a brilliant, playful tour of the terrain where logic, mathematics, philosophy and quantum physics intersect, a novel of ideas par excellence, melding wordplay and mathematical theory with a gripping, human adventure.”
-London Times on ANATHEM

“Stephenson’s expansive storytelling echoes Walter Miller’s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, the space operas of Larry Niven and the cultural meditations of Douglas Hofstadter – a heady mix of antecedents that makes for long stretches of dazzling entertainment.”
-Publishers Weekly on ANATHEM

“The world Stephenson builds is richly visual, its complicated social politics are convincingly detailed, and its cool and conflicted heroes struggle with thrilling intellectual puzzles while they are tested in epic physical adventures.”
-Slate, Best of 2008 List, on ANATHEM

“A sprawling disquisition…[a] logophilic treat for those who like their alternate worlds big, parodic and ironic.”
-Kirkus Reviews on ANATHEM

“What ever happened to the great novel of ideas? It has morphed into science fiction, and Stephenson is its foremost practitioner. A-”
-Time magazine on ANATHEM

“A daring feat of speculative fiction…ANATHEM offers the reader a luscious arrangement of words, jokes, and speculations.”
-Boston Globe

“He mashes up genres with the flair of Thomas Pynchon and the intellect of William Gibson.”
-Winnipeg Free Press on ANATHEM

“Anathem duly marries extensive dialogues on quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness to literal cliffhangers, hi-tech warfare and derring-do.”
-Leicester Mercury on ANATHEM

“Anyone who has read Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle will be familiar with his ingenuity when it comes to mixing science, sociology and satire with swashbuckling adventure, and ANATHEM duly marries extensive dialogues on quantum mechanics and the nature of consciousness to literal cliffhangers, high-tech warfare and general derring-do.”
-The Examiner (Ireland) on ANATHEM

“As with Stephenson’s previous work, plot and character are wrought to the highest standards of literary fiction but they’re scarcely as fascinating as the worlds he conjures up. If there’s anything more readable than ANATHEM it should probably be banned.”
-Word (UK) on ANATHEM

“A tour-de-force of world building and high-concept speculation, wrapped around a page-turning plot.”
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch on ANATHEM

“[R]avishingly brilliant, outrageously ambitious…ANATHEM is thought-provoking fun, at turns a post-graduate seminar of philosophy and physics, and a rousing yarn with characters you care about.”
-Orlando Sentinel on ANATHEM

“Suddenly, novels of ideas are cool again.”
-io9 on ANATHEM

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