What I like best: The world that Stephenson created; Erasmus and many of the other characters but especially him; the wild wide-ranging nature of the setting.
A small moment: Fra Jad insisting that the office supply store must have some comprehension of geometry.
I gave the performance only 4 stars because the section introducer annoyed me: She seemed to have to be trying to remember to enunciate, and pronounced concent conSENT.
Overall I truly adore the book and have pushed it on my son, who liked it too. I have listened to it many times, and will dip into it to listen to a favorite section, usually only to get caught up all over again and want to hear the whole thing.
Reviewer from Utah
I would recommend nearly anything by Stephenson, but not this one. The first third was quite interesting, but the last two-thirds was mostly opaque, boring, and forced. The action scenes are quite good, but are interrupted by long philosophical or technological disquisitions. Stephenson worked hard on this book, but it just doesn't work at the level of either character or plot.
Most interesting: futuristic look at monastic life in a secular context. Least interesting: faux philosophical conversations that go on and on and on . . . .
Dufris doesn't do emotion well. Hams it up instead of subtly portraying sadness, sorrow, or excitement. Other than the main voice, his other voices sound like caricatures. He nearly ruined Scalzi's Old Man's War series. There are far better narrators out there.
No. Please spare us.
Read and listen to Stephenson, but not this one.
The least helpful reviewer on audible.
The best loved parts. That should be obvious.
Other comparable books.
The one that has characters, and stuff happens before it stops.
No more extreme than any other reaction I normally have to literature.
Why is laughing or crying my only two options? Why not think or itch or move my bowels?
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away lived a race of bipedal humanoids that had survived a slightly different history that that of Earth. Here they engaged in lengthily philosophical discussions on the fine points of logic that exactly mirrors the philosophy of Earth. On this far away planet these people even have historical archetypes that have exact parallels to our Newton, Emerson, Locke and Darwin. So, what this really is amounts to an alternate history of our Earth but with different political forces. For me this is less a Science Fiction novel than it is a Mainstream novel that includes some SF elements. I liken this to the many Romance novels that include SF elements but which are correctly categorized as Futuristic Romance pieces and not really Science Fiction.
After listening to the amazing SNOWCRASH I felt that Neal Stephenson deserved a second listen. SNOWCRASH is fast-paced, energetic, fanciful, farcical and fun. ANATHEM is extremely slow-paced, ponderous, mundane and tedious. I am now going on to tackle Stephenson’s CRYPTONOMICON just because SNOWCRASH is so good that I want to give him every opportunity to display the brilliance that he is capable of achieving.
William Dufris is a fine narrator. He has a limited range of character voices, which he recycles on occasion, but these work well for most any conversations. He is easy to understand and always energetic, making a good effort to make this a rewarding listening experience.
I love Sci-Fi, Fantasy, History and Biographies.
This book is the best SciFi book I have ever read. It reminds me slightly of The Glass Bead Game by Hesse, both books written about a cloistered group of intellectuals. The plot is inventive and Stephenson throws ideas at you like Ninja star knives.
It has a slow start going through the history of the planet, hang in there, it gets better, amazingly better.
Listened one hour and couldn't even figure out what the heck the book is about, horrible!
I'll seek a refund. If I had it in paper I'd burn it.
The story pulled me in and was close enough to plausible in this make believe world that I could put myself in the story, but had plenty of adventure.
Jad, because sometimes I feel like the person that has a mission but cannot share his plans with others.
I was particularly moved when Raz had to find his family and was able to see how special his life had become.
No. The story often was so detailed that bursts of 30-45 min would allow me to digest it. I did look forward to the drive each day.
The frequent philosophical discussions of poly cosmic and quantum relationships could be intriguing. The political landscape of the world and its evolution was also fascinating; however the expected conflicts between people of differing beliefs was mitigated. In other words, you would have expected more overt prejudice and hostility.
Imagine if your favorite sci-fi series, the one that really made you think about humanity and its place in the grand scheme of things ended with some adolescent musings on coitus and a "and so, without boring details of how victory was accomplished, they all lived happily ever after". That's how disappointed I was,
He has a soothing voice. He really made me like the main character. His voice actually filled out the missing elements of personality and emotion in the story. When he infrequently used the wrong inflection or pitch for the character it was noticeable. I would immediately think, "Hey! that's not R--- talking!"
It could be a decent 2001 or Gravity type movie but that would center on non-essential story elements. And the degree of philosophical debate and pythagorean mathematical philosophy would have to be really dumbed down. No, this could not be a movie without sacrificing essential story elements.
If you love the purity of mathematical philosophy and how it might relate both to Poly-Cosmic theory and quantum level cognition, but don't like non-fiction, this book is for you. But compelling story its definitely not....
But I'm glad I didn't. At first iI could not get into this book, the narration was a little 'hard'. Not that it wasn't well done, I just found it heavy and somewhat murky. But that's kind of how the narration felt to me. Once I got into world and the flow of the characters, it became mostly interesting. Sometimes I felt that the physics got a little heavy handed, long deep dives into all sorts of real and fantastical physics which, some of I enjoyed greatly, and some of which I found distracting and not needed or helpful to the actual plot. But there was very good character development, very interesting and original heroes and anti-heroes, histories and entire societies were well developed.
So if you like deep thoughts, learning new words for things like cameras, world creation, long philosophical treatises, then you will probably love this book.
When I first started this book I was a little put off by the language and complexity of how it was written. After the first few chapters I began to sink in and I was able to grasp the jargon used. The characters where dynamic, the plot was amazing and it was a very satisfying book. I am a heavy science fiction reader, and this book was on the mark for this, and a little fantasy. Thank you for the person who suggested this book for me. It is the second longest book I've ever read, coincidentally the first longest book Ive read was by the same author