Neal Stephenson's Anathem - a review
First off let me begin by saying that I put on my O Maria salvatoris Mater so I could write this review. It seemed appropriate <3 When I get to the Quemamodem, I'm sure I'll reach an upsight ;)
Neal Stephenson's Anathem is a piece of work. I think it's one of the best books I've read - mostly because it's just so brainy... and I enjoy the hell out of that. Don't get me wrong, I love brainless fiction like the rest of everyone else, but getting into philosophy and quantum mechanics in a world so beautifully built and tended was a pleasure I rarely have.
Only after I finish a book do I go scouring the net for articles and reviews. I was not at all surprised to find so many people were nonplussed by the book. I was exceedingly surprised that it was over 900 pages. I did not notice that at all. I read it in Kindle and I just don't pay attention to such nonsense. A story is a story. It takes just as long as it needs to tell it's tale. But apparently most people had a big problem with it being so long. And so hard. Maybe they are just not very familiar with Neal Stephenson -- but he's very good at just dropping the reader facedown on the concrete of the world he's built, without any help or hints on how to associate it to our own familiar one. This is probably what I love most about him as an author - but I realize that a lot of people just are too lazy or well, dumb, to really appreciate the beauty of it. Or it's just not their boatyfloat. /shrug
I suppose in a review I'm suppose to tell about the general plot - but that's easy to find out anywhere. Some people do things and we read about it - the plot of every book ever written! Seriously though, it isn't breaking any records with new plot. In fact it's quite formulaic. That isn't where it's strength lies. He just talks about wild ass philosophies about our universe that's delightful to witness. The world is fascinating.
I'll tell you one thing - he was fantastically successful in building a world higher up the Wick than our Earth. For quite a large part of the book, I was considering it WAS Earth, just thousands and thousands of years into the future. I wasn't sure it wasn't Earth until it was most decidedly was not. I suppose in a way that's a spoiler but not really - as probably everyone knows that I am majorly ignorant when delving into a new book. On purpose of course, I love going in blind.
What I felt for the most part when I finished the book was just excessively smug. There was no head-scratching confusion in any part of anything I read... instead, I rather just felt like I was basically an Avout upon completion of the novel. Where is my bolt, chord and sphere? :p
This is a great read if you enjoy hard, hard, hard science fiction. It's fascinating and fun, moves decently (I have the patience of stone, however, bear that in mind) and is satisfying at the end. Think of the main plot point of Interstellar on steroids, with better science but mostly science between the ears ;)