Anathem, A-Z

It's been a long trip reading this novel by Neal Stephenson but the real story is actually more than just escaping cul-de-sacs and cliffhangers but also taking this cross-genre fiction at face value, as it mirrors the real, historical evolution of religion and science. Even if this funny and fascinating book ran only second to Gaiman's The Graveyard Book in winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2009, it is not an easy read because you'll be needing patience in making frequent visits to the glossary and the timeline page up to the middle part of the story. Basic familiarity with Science and Philosophy is a good take off point to completely enjoy and understand a world so familiar, yet so different from our own.

I write reviews mostly for fellow readers who also finished the book to incite further discussions but since the majority are not familiar with this novel and will surely hate another spoiler, I'll just leave you with KEY WORDS in relation to the story arranged alphabetically to best describe my whole month of reading and gatecrashing into the Planet Arbre, the World of Anathem.





Evolution of Science



History of Mathematics & Philosophy


Jigsaw Puzzle Mystery

Knowledge Preservation

(yes! there's romance in this book and it's a funny one!)

Martial Arts

(you're reading a classic Stephenson book-- ergo, fight scenes are a delicacy)




Quantum Physics



Travel Adventure
(travel adventure is more than just cross-terrain here!)



World Map
(the only thing this book lacks-- a map)

X Ray Target

Y Chromosome Blues
(this is highly the case for Fraas involving their liaisons with Suurs in the mathic world)

Zero Gravity

some memorable passages:

For in truth I was looking at a collection of ancient machines that had no meaning: all syntax, no semantics. I was claiming I saw a meaning in it. But this meaning had no reality, outside of my mind. I had brought it into the hall with me, carrying it in my head, and now I was playing games with semantics by pasting it onto these iron monuments.


No matter who is discussing these proofs, in what age, whether they are speaking cake or pastureland, they always arrive at the same answer. These truths seem to come out of another world or plane of existence. It's hard not to believe that this other world really exists in some sense-- not just in our imaginations! And we would like to go there.


It took me a few moments to see it. "Terrible," I said at last, "but right." Then the tears came so hard she had to close her eyes and turn her back on me. She let go of my hand and began to totter away, shoulders hunched as if she'd just been stabbed in the back. She seemed the smallest person in the Convox. Every instinct told me to run after her, put an arm around her bony shoulders. But I knew she'd break a chair over my head.

Rating: 4 Valer supermoves out of 5 (80%)
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure

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