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Anathem | [Neal Stephenson]

Anathem

In celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus 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 perilous brink of cataclysmic change.
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Publisher's Summary

Fraa Erasmus 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 "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, bloody violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet always the avout have managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. Erasmus, however, 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 fras and suurs prepare to venture outside the concent's gates - opening them wide at the same time to welcome the curious "extras" in.

During his first Apert as a fra, Erasmus 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 perilous brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces threaten 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, Raz's colleagues, teachers, and friends are all called forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster.

Suddenly burdened with a worlds-shattering responsibility, Erasmus finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of everything - as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of an unfamiliar planet...and far beyond.

©2008 Neal Stephenson; (P)2008 Macmillan Audio

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4.2 (2078 )
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  •  
    Jean Lowry Colorado, USA 10-05-08
    Jean Lowry Colorado, USA 10-05-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    7
    2
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    "May have to begin again"

    This is my first Neal Stephenson book and I must say, I had to stop listening to it about 1 1/2 or 2 hours into the book. I could not follow what was going on. I may have to start again to see if it is better the second time. I know that it is about 32 hours, but I could not get past the first couple of hours.

    7 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    l.e. santa monica, california, United States 04-08-10
    l.e. santa monica, california, United States 04-08-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant dancing"

    Notwithstanding the fact that I would give someone's I-teeth to join a math (where they put science types) and be an Avout (see- science type) ...This touching work comes alive in the narration in more ways than one... and so the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics is emraced by the likes of Fra Jad (my hero) as objective reality, or the wavefunction thereof, tests reality in in the many Cosmi. So slog through the foreshadow long clock setup and be prepared for relative state formulations not to mention playing with a semi-universal wavefunction, parallel universes, many-universes interpretation or just plain many worlds as alien's come a knocking. Don't miss this tale of freindship, love (3 stars but what do you want) and good science. In layman's terms, there is a very large perhaps infinite number of Cosmi and everything that could possibly take place has or may have happened in Hem space. It makes a remarkably acessible dance of the Multiverse hypotheses in physics and philosophy as thousanders, religated to thier crags beat the slines (powers that be who thing that evolution, physics, geology and chemistry are "just theories". A story of freedom and other decoherence interpretations made large as Raz and the crew with the help of a starving alien bring balance to a world I would join in a heartbeat. Now where did I put that new-matter bolt?

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Old Hippy PA 10-10-08
    Old Hippy PA 10-10-08 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Waste of time, effort and 2 precious credits"

    I loved Snow Crash so much that when Anathem appeared I jumped at the oppoprtunity. I cannot tell you how much I looked forward to hearing this book. I thought "32 hours!" - how wonderful.
    I should have stuck with my practice of waiting to commit until I've seen some of the reviews. This was a total waste of two precious credits.
    The whole business of the alien vocabulary contributes not one whit to the story and - after two hours into it - I've had enough. 25% of every sentence uttered are these silly made-up words, so you spend so much mental energy trying to figure out what to make of all the gibberish that it's impossible to follow what's going on. He might as well be talking Klingon.
    I can't imagine torturing myself for 32 hours with this.
    And the narration is nothing to cheer either - most voices sound so similar that you have the further complication of trying to figure out who is talking as well as what the devil they are saying. Contrast that with the narration of Snow Crash ... it's like night and day.
    I feel really robbed.

    13 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. J. Long Florida 10-30-08
    T. J. Long Florida 10-30-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    24
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    "Give it time....."

    I can understand why other listeners have written bad reviews for this amazingly breathtaking and highly original book. That said it is difficult to listen to before you grasp the language of the book. Struggle through the first couple of hours and I guarantee it smooths over from there and it becomes a book of absolute epic quality.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan 10-20-08
    Alan 10-20-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow, Tedious, Unrewarding"

    Like chipmunks, Stephenson's fiction comes with two speeds: bat out of hell or motionless. "Snow Crash" triggered sonic booms from start to finish. There were times I thought I'd need a seat belt to keep from being thrown out of my chair. Better yet, the story was absolutely fascinating.

    "Anathem," in contrast, moves at a pace so glacial minutes go by like days. When I gave up after seven hours, only the barest outlines of the central plot (at least I hope it was the plot) had been revealed.

    I suppose it's fortunate "Anathem" is set in the very distant future, because I would hate to think of anyone I care for having to learn and endure the hyper-ritualized, pseudo-monastic culture depicted in Stephenson's imaginary world.

    The only thing worse than existing in the world of "Anathem" would be having to hear about it for thirty-plus hours. I could not muster the slightest interest in the story line, the thesis, the protagonist, or any of the other characters, most of whom are mere caricatures. "Anathem" is endless form - baroque, arcane and ultimately paralyzingly boring - with little or no apparent substance, though it appears Stephenson has an axe of some sort to grind about Information Technology.

    I am sorry I bought the book, and I will be wary of anything else Stephenson churns out in the future.






    7 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TIMOTHY Manheim, PA, United States 12-17-14
    TIMOTHY Manheim, PA, United States 12-17-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Terrible"

    Waste of a lot of time. Just cumbersome and boring. Don't believe the good reviews. I think people are afraid to admit that they spent this much staying with it! Its bad...just move on. This is the first bad review Ive ever done.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin M. Fowler 12-11-14 Member Since 2014
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    "I don't understand how Dufris keeps his job."
    What made the experience of listening to Anathem the most enjoyable?

    This book, like most of Stephenson's work, is excellent. However, I was heartbroken to start this book up and immediately recognize the same voice that butchered Cryptonomicon so badly. I'm only a few minutes into this one, but he's already managed to make Fraa Orolo sound like Hedonism-bot from Futurama. Given that this book is full of new vocabulary and Mr. Dufris has a history of mispronouncing words (the example of his calling a submachine gun a 'submarine gun' 3-4 times in Cryptonomicon comes to mind) I can only imagine what hilarity awaits.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harris 09-11-14
    Harris 09-11-14
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    6
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    "1/2 way thru. I'm going to return it."
    Any additional comments?

    Other comments say that it starts bad and gets better. Nope. Nine hours in and it just keeps getting worse. Boring. Boring. Thing seem to happen for no reason. I find myself saying, "So what?" "Who cares?" and, "Why?"

    This author is mean. He takes cheap shots at people who are mainstream, uneducated, poor, religious, whatever. I don't think it's one of those how-the-main-character-sees-the-world things either. I think he's just a jerk.

    The main character is actually believable and likeable, which is a waste because the book is like this:
    Imagine walking into a class where graduate philosophy students are talking. They quote arguments named after dead thinkers. They have their own language. But, you can tell that even if you did know what they were talking about, you would not be impressed. Still, they have this haughty attitude like they're smarter than you. (Yeah, yeah, the Hippocratic Oath and Socratic dialogue are good legacies. That's not what I'm talking about). In this book, they're not real dead philosophers cuz it's scifi, but some of them are given similar names that sound like real philosophers. Bored yet?
    Oh, then an alien spaceship starts to orbit the planet. Cohesive.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Exton, PA, United States 08-07-14
    Edward Exton, PA, United States 08-07-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A major diappointment"

    I love etymology so I was not particularly put off by all of the neologisms. But when all the neologisms serve no real purpose, I get annoyed. And when 20+hrs of listening goes by before something actually happens, I get doubly annoyed. It was so bad that I started listening to the book played at 1.5X speed. The plot still progressed at a snail's pace. And when something finally does happen and it's not particularly novel or interesting..... at least it wasn't worth the arduous journey it took to get there.
    In all fairness, the writing is superb. I kept having flashbacks to my undergraduate days when I had to read Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake" and Proust's "Swan's Way." With those classics, as with "Anathem" I kept telling myself, "beautifully written but incredibly excessive, self-indulgent mental meanderings with a dearth of plot....... please let it end!" (And just for context, I read Dostoevsky over summer vacation when I was in high school.... just for fun. I'm also a fan of Stephenson's so I fully expected to love this book.) As I failed to understand why my literature professors would inflict Joyce & Proust on poor, long suffering freshmen, so I wonder about those who would sucker you into reading "Anathem" with their rave reviews. Save yourself 30+ hours of sheer boredom.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shaher detroit, MI, United States 10-15-13
    Shaher detroit, MI, United States 10-15-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    17
    5
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    0
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    "Obnoxious"
    Any additional comments?

    I like Stephenson, but this was an absolute awful audio book! He's trying to create a whole new language, and every other word is from the Stephenson dictionary. So hard to follow, and you lose all sight of the story. Maybe its better as a traditional reading book, but as far as an audio book, it's terrible.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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