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Old 09-09-2008, 03:07 AM   #1
stgben
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Anathem by Neal Stephenson

I was pleasantly surprised to see Anathem automatically show up on my Kindle just minutes after midnight tonight. Anathem is Neal Stephenson's newest book. He is the author of many well known Sci-Fi/Tech books such as Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash.

Is anyone else planning to read this? Do you like any of Stephenson's previous works?

EDIT: I've decided to add a short introduction written by Liviu_5 regarding the "steep curve" of this novel.

Quote:
The steep curve is more about figuring what's what on Arbre than infodump per se. There are a lot of new terms - Mr. Stephenson preferred analogy is with Dune's lexicon - and the essential difference between Arbre and Earth is that the "intellectuals/theoreticians" are the avout, while the politicians, business people, lawyers, physicians, engineers, IT guys and such are the saecular people and of course the rednecks - slines - are too part of the saecular.

Of course the saeculars that go in business, politics, trades like engineering, medicine, law spend years as unarian avouts which is sort like going to college/grad school except that you stay inside for the whole year with only ten days Apert to visit home, without computers, TV, cellphones - but with sex and alcohol so that's not so bad after all .

And for example the 6 main young avout characters, "fids", 4 boys and 2 girls, Raz - narrator, Jesry, Lio, Arsibalt, Tulia and Ala reflect that diversity, with Raz and Lio coming from "sline" background, Jesry from rich business upper class, Arsibalt from religious upper class, while Tulia was a newborn foundling. And as expected Jesry is the handsome, smart, smooth boy, Arisbalt the fat nerdy one, Lio the tough karate kid, while Raz the more naive but intrepid and lucky narrator, with Tulia the smartest of all and Ala the bossy, leader girl.

Similarly in the extramuros/saecular world we have Cord the cool, tough girl that's Raz sister and an artisan - mechanic/engineer - that made her way out of her sline/trailer/redneck background and then several other characters of diverse background from religious types to redneck wilderness guide to ultra-rich old money - but those appear later and I do not want to spoil the book...

The official site - link below - has a lot of stuff including the trailer which is superb, and stuff from the book but only the timeline and dictionary, no proper excerpt.

As a bonus Cryptonomicon is available to be read for free online though not downloadble.

http://nealstephenson.com/anathem/

Last edited by stgben; 09-12-2008 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 09-09-2008, 03:10 AM   #2
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I loved Zodiac, Snow Crash, and especially Diamond Age, didn't care too much for Baroque Cycle although I finished it (but it felt like work at the end). Yes, I'm going to read this

I wish Jeff Noon would write a new book.

So had you pre-ordered or subscribed? How much did it cost?
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Old 09-09-2008, 03:51 AM   #3
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I'm curious about this book. But is it more like Cryptonomicon or the Baroque Cycle?
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Old 09-09-2008, 05:56 AM   #4
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That's what I'd like to know, as I was put off by the Baroque Cycle too
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stgben View Post
I was pleasantly surprised to see Anathem automatically show up on my Kindle just minutes after midnight tonight. Anathem is Neal Stephenson's newest book. He is the author of many well known Sci-Fi/Tech books such as Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash.

Is anyone else planning to read this? Do you like any of Stephenson's previous works?
I have never read any of his previous work. But, I did borrow the eBook from the library.
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:26 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by stgben View Post
Is anyone else planning to read this? Do you like any of Stephenson's previous works?
Pre-ordered it at Fictionwise (already spent the micropay kickback too) and plan on reading it this weekend. Like most of his stuff. Didn't find the Baroque Cycle to bad but not the best either.

This new one sounds like it could be a good combination of what he was trying to do with the Cycle books and what he is best at (which is a type of cynical future view of "man vs everyone else").

And yea, Snow Crash is the one to read if you don't know him. I can't think of anyone in to modern fiction, reading or writing, that hasn't read that book. Though to be honest, now it's starting to feel dated since the tech and society is moving closer to the fiction he was dealing with.
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:31 AM   #7
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The Diamond Age remains one of my favorite books, despite the weak ending. Snow Crash was ok. I didn't finish Cryptonomicon, but I think I was reading it online for some reason. (This was more than 10 years ago, so I don't really remember the details, but I think I was at work.) Looks like Anathem will be more like the Baroque Cycle, which I haven't read:
Quote:
In this follow-up to his historical Baroque Cycle trilogy, which fictionalized the early-18th century scientific revolution, Stephenson (Cryptonomicon) conjures a far-future Earth-like planet, Arbre, where scientists, philosophers and mathematicians—a religious order unto themselves—have been cloistered behind concent (convent) walls....
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:40 AM   #8
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Yeah, that's why I'm (at least) waiting until it hits paperback prices before trying it (or I may even find my local library!)
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Old 09-09-2008, 11:13 AM   #9
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I have never read any of his previous work. But, I did borrow the eBook from the library.


And......???


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Old 09-11-2008, 09:49 AM   #10
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I'm about 150 (sony reader) pages in and so far it's pretty good. Best way I can describe it is like a cross between In The Name of the Rose and a fat fantasy novel, if Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking had collaborated on one; it takes time and patience - it's almost the exact opposite of a light read, and there's a steep learning curve that some reviews assure me will soon be over. It doesn't have quite the manic energy of Snow Crash and Zodiac (although the first couple of pages of actual narrative - once you're past the intro and notes - are classic Stephenson), but I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garygibsonsf View Post
Best way I can describe it is like a cross between In The Name of the Rose and a fat fantasy novel, if Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking had collaborated on one
OK, goes to the top of the 'To be read next'-pile (I bought it, but haven't read it yet) :-)
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:56 AM   #12
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I got an arc several months ago of Anathem and for me it's been a once in a decade novel since it tickled everything I like about sf , natural philosophy and science. I read it 3 times in a week and reread it twice since - I wrote a review for Robert at Fantasy Book Critic.

To get a flavor there is a video with actors that look exactly like I imagined the characters to be and showing several scenes from the novel, with the first being from page 282, but going back and forth in the novel after.

Stephenson to the power Stephenson as someone put it. Content wise after a steep learning curve about what's what, it's a very entertaining and easy read.

Other sound bites I heard and agree with to an extent or another - Gene Wolfe meets Roger Penrose or Plato meets JK Rowling -

If Cryptonomicon was a reinvention of the second part of the 20th century from the 40's to the 90's, and the Baroque Cycle a reinvention of beginning of science/Enlightenment from 1650's to 1710's, Anathem is a reinvention of the whole Western Civilization from Plato to Star Trek to the Multiverse...

Link for the video:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fu...deoid=41718483
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garygibsonsf View Post
I'm about 150 (sony reader) pages in and so far it's pretty good. Best way I can describe it is like a cross between In The Name of the Rose and a fat fantasy novel, if Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking had collaborated on one; it takes time and patience - it's almost the exact opposite of a light read, and there's a steep learning curve that some reviews assure me will soon be over. It doesn't have quite the manic energy of Snow Crash and Zodiac (although the first couple of pages of actual narrative - once you're past the intro and notes - are classic Stephenson), but I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
Thanks for the information on this.

I've been reading a number of reviews. Most cite the steep learning curve. That, in itself, won't throw me off at all; in fact, I consider it a challenge.

I'll probably buy the Sony edition and take advantage of the 20% off before that offer expires, although I was planning on using some money on purchasing the remaining Proust volumes that are currently on sale. (The volumes I assembled for MobileRead are from an earlier translation.)

I guess that means Sony will get more money from me.

I'm disappointed that Sony is finally offering so many bargains and freebies [from last month]. I was hoping they wouldn't "GET IT," being mired in a kind of corporate smegma. But HEY!, I guess even corporations can change!!

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Old 09-11-2008, 11:57 AM   #14
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Love this author and preordered the book for my Kindle. Will start it this weekend. Can't beat the $9.99 price!
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:00 PM   #15
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Where is the best place for someone in the UK to buy this in a format suitable for the Sony Reader?

I've only just got mine and am trying to get my head around the different formats. But I'd very much like this to be my first purchase as Stepehnson is my favourite author. I've only been able to find it in US only stores so far

Edit: Actually scratch that. I've done a bit more research. Good old DRM. There's nothing quite like buying something and then having to break the law to actually read it. Sheesh.

Really looking forward to this. I totally get what Liviu_5 is talking about. The Baroque Cycle had pretty much the same effect on me as this book seems to have had on you. It totally pressed all of my buttons and felt like the series had been written for me personally!

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