...I only listened to about a half hour. The author explains that, for simplicity, he has translated alien things into normal earthspeak, or whatever. But, every other sentence includes an alien vocabulary word. Maybe this works when reading, but, when listening to it, it kind of comes across as gibberish. I had to do a mental pause to process the vocabulary word, and in so doing, missed the next line that was read. It might be a great book, but I was unable to listen to it because of this.
I loved Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon. Enjoyed Interface and Reamde. This one though....nah.
Not a character, but the vocabulary -- translate.
A Must Read.
Too many to list here but I loved the trip to the Giant Spaceship. How they actually did it was really interesting and you could tell the Author put a lot of research into the actual science on how something like that could be done.
I really liked it where the Main character had to circle the planet in order to meet up with his crew and how improbable it would have been for the aliens to see him. And describing how orbital mechanics worked was simple and intriguing. Another fascinating part is how they managed to propel themselves towards the alien ship.
First time listening to these narrator's.
Yes. The death of one of the important characters was esp moving.
If you like 'Hard' Science fiction, and not afraid of pushing your brain matter, definitely get his book.
A true classic in the veins of Asimov, Heinlein, Arthur C Clark, Pournelle and Niven.
I reviewed this once before, but I'm currently listening to it for the 6th time in the last three years, and I've read it in hard copy twice. It's #1 on my favorite book list of all time, at least for now. This is an absolutely great book. A lot of Stephenson's fan base prior to Anathem might be characterized as "computer/technology geek", with some "history geek" thrown in for good measure. That's probably why Anathem wasn't as well received as it deserved: it needs to be read by language and science geeks, who aren't necessarily the same as his original fanbase.
To all the people who criticized Stephenson for his making up new words, or using existing words in ways other than standard English usage, I say this: there's a perfectly good reason why he did what he did with words, and if you don't get it, then you weren't paying attention to what happened in the book, what it was about, and so on, or else you weren't smart enough to read it. If you like language, and if you understand what Stephenson described in the book, then all the language stuff makes perfect sense. In fact, it becomes awe-inspiringly clever.
For the language reason, however, I don't recommend this audiobook to people who haven't read the book. In a lot of ways it really helps to see the words in print, at least the first time, because often a person has to figure out what is meant by a certain word, or a certain usage, and just hearing it said doesn't necessarily deliver all the cues necessary to make sense of it.
As for the audiobook itself, the narrator was really fantastic. He was able to give each character their own unique voice, and do it so well that they each "sound" like that character to a T. This is the best narration of any audiobook I've yet listened to from Audible. There are a few word mispronunciations, but in a 32-hour audio program of this nature that's going to be unavoidable.
Buy the hardcopy of Anathem and read it. Then get the audiobook and just soak it in, and enjoy it, like a hot bath. This is a story that will make you sad when it ends, because it's over and you don't get to be with those characters anymore unless you back up and just read it again.
This is a dense, rich, massive epic of a novel. Exactly what you expect and love from Neil Stephenson. Unfortunately, it lacks the trademark tongue-in-cheek humor that Stephenson does so well. Once you can move past that and accept this book on its own, you will be pulled into the familiar but at the same time wondrous world of 'Arbre' that Stephenson has built. In the style of Herbert's Dune and SnowCrash/Diamond Age before, Stephenson is willing to put in the pages to completely flesh out the world he has created. Be warned, at times, the pace of the book mirrors the pace of life in the monastery in which much of the book is set; slow, deliberate, and with patience bordering on the eternal.
I strongly recommend this book if you are looking to get lost in a new world, but be warned, it is a definite investment of time, and it takes some patience to get into.
Mystical, captivating, and reinforcing! A must for any reader that loves epics like Dune, Star Wars, THHGTTG, etc. Science, Math, Physics, Astronomy, Love, Loss, Recollection Travel and Discovery all manifest in this uniquely developed society and the quest of the main characters...for truth. Details of the sciences do not drone out the story nor ablate the presentation and development of the characters...those things stay just outside the periphery providing a great ribbon of strength to support the story and like a fine ribbon of silk to not get in the way (unlike some story tellers that take an entire chapter to tell you enough detail about the Kalashnikov that you could basically carve your own 1:8 scale from a well used bar of soap with your eyes blindfolded and both hands tied behind your back).
Where this story fails is unfortunately were a lot of N.S. stories fail...their wrap-up, conclusion, ending...whatever you want to call it because they rarely are any of those. I am not sure if it is publisher fault, writer fault or if N.S. gets abducted by aliens when he gets close to finishing each story, but most fail to fully satisfy the reader's journey only to conclude with weak summaries, weird events that kick the reader in the back of the head, and generally leave the reader thinking that the publisher's deadline was more precious than reader's enjoyment or intellect (think that when reader's gets tired of it and move on to another author!) The equivalent of a Literature Guillotine generally awaits the reader in the final chapter(s) and this one is hardly any different.
Neal does a great job of reading his story as if it was the only story he knew and unlike a lot of authors that don't read / record well, that could never be said of Neal. Like other greats, its as if he has lived with these characters, knows their voices, hearts, appearance, and manners all so well and all so distinctive and is equally able to present them to the reader.
Like many other listeners, I took a chance on this book because of Stephenson's earlier and massively entertaining work "Snow Crash."
But in "Anathem" Stephenson seemed to embrace form and novelty and as you listen to this book you can feel what the author was going for: he invented a new vocabulary and used it to flesh out his poly-universe string theory-ish philosophy - with the thought - perhaps - that the book would transcend predictive or fantasy fiction leading future generations of big IQ uber fan boys to speak in Orth the way some might now use Kligon or Elvish or Jawaese.
But Stephenson did this all at the cost of plot and character. Honestly it's as though a truly great philosophy professor got together with a community college creative writing freshman and said "I'll handle the tough thinking, you take care of the plot."
It's not all bad. There were some really nice devices and reversals (the best of which is monk-like existence is reserved for those who have completely abandoned faith). And the plot wasn't completely vacuous - but there were hours (literally) of what seemed to be incredibly opaque fluff. When I reached the end of a diatribe I felt ripped off because it was as inconsequential as it was impenetrable.
The performance was good overall, but there was a flaw that could have been easily fixed. If you choose to listen to "Anathem" get used to this phrase: "The Dictionary, 4th Edition, A.R 3000" because it is spoken after every single definition that is given. And there are a lot of definitions. Ah - but remember that we are listeners and not readers so what we really need after a long definition of a word we've never heard before is the word again so we can remember it without having to hit rewind. As it stands, we get the obscure word, then a long multi-part definition and then when we've forgotten what was being defined instead of having the word repeated, we get the wildly unhelpful and meaningless dictionary edition information. Why? You might think that this was just the producer being faithful to the work but since Neil Stephenson was one of the readers it seems he could have corrected this during production.
Ok - so I will preface my review by saying that I'm not a math wiz... I don't discuss theoretical physics with my friends over dinner... and I didn't get a degree in astronomy..... that said:
This book has it's head shoved so far up it's own a$$ that by the time I got 3/4 of the way in I could see out it's proverbial mouth. Conversations about theoretical science of a made-up planet in a made-up universe are so common... boring.... and excruciating that my head hurt trying to follow them. Niel Stephenson is obviously a smart guy - but when you turn what should be an amazing - deep - engaging - epic tale into a series of long conversations and indecipherable scientific concepts - it ruins any fun that I may have had.
I may not be a math wiz or have a degree in physics - but I did pretty well on my SATs and I'm a pretty technical guy. This book is so clumsy and obnoxious that I have yet to finish it - I probably won't - and I won't regret my decision at all.
As noted elsewhere, read this book first; then decide if it is worth 2 credits to listen. Very much enjoyed Stephenson's Snow Crash...it seems Stephenson delivers alternate worlds for quite different audiences.
This was amazing. I was sorry when it was over.
The characters and the world they inhabited was well-realized. Kudos to the narrator as well!