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
Okay, I must be a sline according to an earlier reviewer because I just don't get it. I stopped listening before my brain exploded. I couldn't decide if the author was writing a serious novel or a tongue-in-cheek satire. He starts out with an explanation of why he's going to call a non carrot a carrot (because it is hard to translate the vegetable) then he introduces a new noun for almost everything else in existence. Could it be that carrot is the only word that survived all those millennia. Such a sad state of affairs if that is true. Stephenson obviously writes for an audience well versed in math and physics. And it feels like he is letting the rest of us know that we are not smart enough to understand what he is saying. I don't like being condescended to by an author.
A didactic mixture of ancient philosophies, ol' time religion, quantum conundrums with the added thrill of being housed and experienced mostly in a monastic setting and mindset.
Great for those who find naval gazing illuminating, not so much for the rest.
I gave this book a good 3 hours before I decided to move on to another book. It started extremely slow and can be a bit confusing due to the new, fictional, vocabulary introduced. I recommend you stay away from this, at least in audio format. Probably better enjoyed in paperback where you can flip back and remind yourself of past characters, vocabulary and history.
Anathem was a fantastic trip that really had my imagination going. Sure, it's long, but if you pace yourself you won't get burnt out. My only small complaint is since I didn't have the book handy, I couldn't flip to the end and read the glossary whenever I wanted. Highly recommended to the geek elite.
Imagine eavesdropping on the next table over lunch at a Star Trek convention- and this book is what you would get- Hour after hour of quantum and theoretical physics debate with no discernible plot or character development. I am a fan of SCI FI, but at about hour 22 I finally just gave up hoping that anything would actually HAPPEN. I cannot imagine what the other reviewers were thinking in recommending this book- unless they were afraid of appearing anti-intellectual by panning it. I want my 2 CREDITS back!
I tried to like this but I have yet to finish the last 10 hours of the 30 some hours. It is painfully arduous and hard for me at least, to keep my attention. I certainly think someone out there would love it...it's just not me. Sorry Leo!
With this novel, I officially give up on Stephenson. I keep waiting for something comparable to the amazing "Necronomicon". But instead we keep getting these long-winded diatribes with their excessive fascination with meaningless detail. Listening to this was simply painful. And pointless.
I think a lot of reviewers are intimidated by Stephenson's formidable intellect, and simply decide that a book like this (or the equally atrocious Baroque Cycle) simply *must* be good.
Wrong. This Emperor has no clothes. And hasn't for some time now.
Somebody hire this guy an editor. Please. I've given him two chances since the excellent Snow Crash: The Diamond Age and this bloated mishmash. Both are unlistenable. Dude, tighten it up. And stop reading your books!
Once I start a book I have to finish it. This one could be a first no finish for me. My lesson here has been to regard the stars. I will not download a book that has not been rated or has a low rating. My intent is to try at least 2 more times before completely giving up.
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