Plot[ edit ] Equality , a year-old man writing by candlelight in a tunnel under the earth, tells the story of his life up to that point. He exclusively uses plural pronouns "we", "our", "they" to refer to himself and others. He was raised like all children in his society, away from his parents in collective homes. He believes he has a "curse" that makes him learn quickly and ask many questions.
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Maybe more like, "Hmmm. That unifying theme is science, and Stephenson has a lot to say about science. And he says it, almost like he was a heretic espousing some radical concept the orthodoxy would be offended by, in code. Not only just in code, but in the form of a fictional dialogue as if he needs his own voice and opinions to be deniable. Far more than it is a science fiction novel, the text is a primer seemingly aimed at young people most of the time, introducing concepts from philosophy, math, and science in what can only be described as a somewhat entertaining and slightly subversive way.
The most salient feature of the text to me turned out not to be the much discussed alternative language, but the fact that Stephenson has chosen to tell the story in the first person - which seemed to me to be a bit of a departure - and employs what struck me as a highly unreliable narrator.
I often wondered what things looked like through the eyes of his sib, or his mentor, or any number of other characters. The second most salient feature of the text is the frequent employment of invented technical jargon - SF bullshyte, if you will - as it is employed by the residents of the world of Arbre, and in particular, the cloistered Mathic world of Arbre. In most cases, they are just bullshyte another of his jargon words, if you are wondering relabeling of famous real world scientists and philosophers or their theorems or philosophical schools.
This might be fun reading if you are in to cracking the code, but I had enough of the gist of it that there seemed to be no need.
Besides, Stephenson absolutely spoon feeds the reader with definitions, both in chapter headings and within the text, to the point that not only is it full of annoying exposition, but much of the fun of deciphering the text is immediately lost.
Thus, the author ends up gaining very little except where it relates to his twist, such as it is and which you can see coming three or four hundred pages away. But the whole book seemed a lost opportunity for depth and creativity to me, so that was par for the course.
There is little more to say about the book as a whole except that it is generally anticlimactic at every point along the way. None of the little story arcs have particularly worthwhile payoffs, and whenever you think that the story is about to become interesting it collapses again and simply pitters out. I probably making this sound worse that it is. Bits and pieces are in isolation really interesting, and I made it through the book easily enough. But Stephenson has raised the bar for himself pretty high in my estimation, and this is I think far from his best work.
Voco: Pause for scientific investigation. Feral: Something must be wrong. We are having an actual adventure here. Inbrase: Pause for scientific debate. This, ultimately, ends up leading to: more debate. Advent: Stephenson finally returns to form. Some more trade mark Stephenson adventure Talk about putting your Faith in reason.
Reconstitution: How sweet. Calca: Did anyone else get the impression that these were originally part of the text, and that Stephenson had been forced to put them in the appendix solely because his editor finally showed some backbone and called him on it?
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Plot summary[ edit ] Anathem is set on and around the fictional planet Arbre. The avout are allowed to communicate with people outside the walls of the concent only once every year, decade, century, or millennium, depending on the particular vows they have taken. Orolo secretly observes the alien ship with a video camera, technology that is prohibited for the avout. But the presence of the alien ship soon becomes an open secret among many of the avout at St. The alien ship eventually declares its presence by shining a laser upon the Millenarian Math of Saunt Edhar, the bastion of those avout who have taken a thousand-year vow not to interact with the outside world. Orolo holds discussions with Erasmas about the nature of the cosmos and consciousness, and how he believes that the aliens are not simply from another planet, but from another cosmos that is influenced by Arbre. A female alien is on board, but dead of a recent gunshot wound.
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Brief Summary of Book: Anathem by Neal Stephenson Here is a quick description and cover image of book Anathem written by Neal Stephenson which was published in Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago. Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster.