Book de jour – ‘Anathem’

This one’s really more of a ‘livre de bois’ (‘Prententious? Moi?’). Given how little time I have to read, I probably wouldn’t have tackled Neal Stephenson’s latest doorstop if I haven’t read – and loved – Cryptonomicon. Because I’ve also read – and not loved – the Baroque Cycle (that’s two months of my life I’ll not get back…) I was ambivalent about Anathem, but it was an Xmas gift, and I started it in the holidays when I knew I’d have more time.

I’d say my time was well spent. I can’t remember the last time a book so comprehensively took me to new and alien places – though not so alien that we can’t relate to them, which is part of his genius. Journeys like this are one of the reasons I read SF. Having said that, the journey does meander a bit; with my ‘craft head’ on I suspect Mr S outlines his world meticulously then lets the plot just happen. Also, I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I got a little lost round about page 865. Up until then I didn’t pretend to know what was going on, but I was happy to be along for the ride. Then the ride turned out to actually be a toboggan run, or possibly a car crash and …

Yes. Not sure about the ending.

Overall verdict: magnificent if ultimately incomprehensible to us lesser mortals. Beloved has just started it, and he’s a trained mathematician, so I’m rather hoping he’ll be able to explain the ending to me some day.

2 Responses to Book de jour – ‘Anathem’

  1. hampshireflyer 1 February 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    I really wasn’t sure what was going on from the point they went up to the place I won’t mention to spare readers who haven’t read it yet… but the first half is brilliant. Although I wish we’d been able to find out a bit more about what the other cataclysms had been…. fair enough if the characters can’t know, but we can!

    • JaineFenn 1 February 2010 at 10:57 pm #

      I know what you mean, but not knowing the full history – whilst having the impression the author probably did – was one of the things that added depth to the book.

Leave a Reply

@JaineFenn

  • One of the most impressive sets of short stories I've read recently: ,
  • RT : OUMUAMUA: A Fiction by ,
  • First run out for provisions after relocating comes with an auspicious omen ,
  • First weekend (sort of) living in the West Country: spoken to many workmen (two of whom turned out to be mortal enemies, amusingly), viewed and discussed much Stuff to go in house once we finally own it and followed on Twitter.,
  • After 28 years living in Hampshire I've headed West. I'm currently of No Fixed Abode pending a house purchase, while residing in Devon. Unfortunately, most of my clothes are in Cornwall.,