Almost Done with Anathem

Lynne Kiesling

Anyone else out there reading Anathem? I am on page 726, and I’m really enjoying it. I think to this point it’s been a book about consciousness, in addition to being an action/fantasy novel. But I can tell that it’s about to delve into more, shall we say, timely narrative.

One thing I’ve learned thus far is that I am probably part of the Sconic Discipline …

ETA: I think it’s a combination of the best aspects of Snow Crash and The Baroque Cycle — the near-world sci fi/fantasy aspects of Snow Crash and the expansive storytelling and narrative of The Baroque Cycle. And a little bird has told me that Stephenson has finally nailed an ending!


10 thoughts on “Almost Done with Anathem

  1. Wait.. Neal Stephenson hasn’t nailed an ending since Zodiac (and that was only nailed in the sense of being completely as expected and foreshadowed)! This would be a truly momentous occasion. Maybe I’ll have to reconsider my decision to skip this one…

  2. I KNOW! The ending to The Baroque Cycle was kind of that way too. I actually rather liked the ending of Diamond Age, which is my favorite Stephenson novel.

    I’d say if you liked System of the World (which I did, very much), and you liked Snow Crash and the lead-up to the climax in Cryptonomicon and in Zodiac, you’ll like Anathem.

  3. It is sitting in my to read pile glowering at me. As it is by far the largest book in the pile, I have put it on the bottom, for stability.

    I do actually want to get around to it, but I have plenty of other things to do, including lots of other books to read.

  4. Haven’t even started the copy I got for my Bday. But I’m thinking it might be just the thing for my loooonnnnng flights to and from California next month.

    Twelve hours on a plane. Blurargh.

  5. I read Anathem back in September when it came out, loved it. And yes he does nail an ending. Imagine my surprise.

    Unless I get a really good book for Christmas, I plan to re-read Anathem over the break. Hope you get through it.

    And to all rest who have it in their to-read file: move it to the top and start reading it now!!! You won’t regret it.

    (btw, I also checked out the audio book: 34 hours on 28 CDs. Would take quite a few cross country flights to listen to that!!)

  6. I haven’t attempted Anathem yet. I face it with some trepidation, as it took me 10 months of subway-reading-time to finish the Baroque Cycle, meaning that by the end I’d forgotten where the books started.

    So far my favorite Stephenson is definitely Cryptonomicon, which had me repeatedly grabbing passersby by their collars to read them favorite bits. (There may be some hyperbole in the preceding sentence.)

    I confess that I haven’t yet read either Snow Crash or Diamond Age. They’re on “the list.”

  7. Both Snow Crash and Diamond Age are commute friendly. Anathem is … weighty … and also likely to be so in paperback form.

  8. I wasn’t that satisfied with the ending, but it isn’t his worst.

    Maybe because the book drops into two different lulls in the action towards the end.

    I did go back and re-read some of the beginning – there were a number of things I missed while trying to figure out the Mathic world.

  9. More than once I’ve found myself hefting Anathem off the shelf at the bookstore, and then putting it back after remembering that I still the first book of the Baroque Cycle only 1/3-finished in the dusty pile next to my nightstand. I love Stephenson; Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon are among my favorite novels, and I even liked The Big-U (for which Stephenson later apologized). But that guy really needs an editor with the cojones to stand up to him. Or maybe not; I guess I’m just not patient enough for 30 pages of meandering historic exposition in between every action sequence. (I never managed to read Moby Dick all the way from beginning to end either — shameful as that might be for an English major.) But it sounds like Anathem might be worth the effort … ?
    To Knitress … I fear this breeze-block of a book wouldn’t fit under the seat in front of you on that airline trip! OTOH, maybe it’s an excuse to make sure there’s a Kindle under the tree. 😉

  10. *Loved* the first 750 pages of Anathem. The last 140 were complete garbage. Big disappointment in my opinion.

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