In Anathem, Stephenson imagines a world where scientists and philosophers live in monasteries like medieval monks. I’ll avoid spoilers here because a lot of the fun of the book is discovery, but the world-building is top-notch.
The story itself is brilliant. Within the plot, a large portion is mind-stretching philosophy, science, and math discussions between the characters. I can understand why someone would think this boring, but I was fascinated.
I can’t remember the last book I devoured so quickly or enjoyed so thoroughly. A definite future re-read, which is the highest compliment I can pay in a world filled with so many books I’ve yet to read.
Expand for spoilery thoughts
- My favorite parts of the book took place at Edhar and Tredegarh, more so than the more action-oriented sequences of Erasmus travelling the world and in space.
- The spaceship itself isn’t hard to grasp, but I had a hard time visualizing everything as the characters moved around inside.
- Arbre is so similar to our world not for literary reasons, but because it is “further up the Wick” and so influences our reality. Earth is a less “true” version of Arbre. Amazing.
- Incanters like Fraa Jad can apparently “travel” between worldtracks, in effect controlling which possible future actually happens. In this way they’re like authors who look ahead and choose the direction of their story’s narrative. Meta.