Neal Stephenson


Reviewed: 2021-01-19
Oh my god:
- Waaaay too long (3,000 it seemed pages)
- waaay too much filler ("oh my god, something's actually happening?!")
- waaaay too badly done (it ends with a marriage for maximum possible lameness).

Like the chronically over-extended 8-book Baroque Cycle that it follows, Anathem is entirely quantity over quality.

The next book I read was another H. P. Lovecraft novella and it was sooo good to be actually reading a real book.

Reviewed: 2020-10-26
It took me a few false starts before I finally grasped what was going on and was able to break through the dense opening chapters. Once that was accomplished, a fascinating story unfolded. I think I read a synopsis somewhere that helped me to get it, something about the restriction of technology (due to a war in the distant past) by putting different fields of study in different sequestered cloisters, with outside conversations allowed only at varying intervals of years. Once I understood that basic plot setup, the early part of the book made a lot more sense! Really great story.
Reviewed: 2018-01-25
Reviewed: 2014-01-01

I'm a slow reader, and the book is almost 900 pages, but it is well worth the investment of time and effort. As I think back to my experience of reading the story, it really seems to be several different styles combined into one long narrative. It starts as a spec-fic cultural examination, with a bit of philosophical dialogue. Then there's a section of grand adventure and survivalism. Then a great turn into full-on scifi, with some more philosophy (which gets really thick around the 600s, but press on and don't give up). The wrapping-up chapter (denouement if I remember my terminology) was not quite satisfactory to me, but after the actions and ideas that were explored in the previous pages, I can't think that any "ending" would suffice (plus, I knew what was coming -- maybe if I'd been surprised, I would have liked it more).

Item Posts
@bjezerey completed #anathem... on 2012-06-06
@bjezerey began #anathem... on 2012-06-02