In an effort to get through Neal Stephenson’s upcoming novel, Anathem, in time to write a review and post it before its release to the world, I’ve read more than 300 pages of it today. My brain definitely needs to be marinated in something else for a few hours now.
So far, I must say that I am enjoying the book but it is the same kind of heavy going that parts of his Baroque Cycle was for many people (including me at times since we called reading that trilogy, “Climbing Mt. Stephenson”). As people may recall, that series laid out a lot of monetary or economic theory as well as covering quite a bit of math in places (as did the Cryptonomicon, come to think of it…) This book is not an escapist thriller and, as he has pointed out in one interview, could almost be set in our world with an alternate history if he wanted to change the names of things. I mean, I’ve identified the historical analogues for Rome, Pythagorus, the Academy, etc. in his history. Of course, if his book was set in our history, the “present” time would be more than 3,000 years in the future. The year in the book is 3,689 and they count, effectively, from an apocalypse that would match closely to things potentially coming up in our current age.
At least I understand now why the “Thousander” chant on his accompanying CD is deep and harmonic throat singing.
I think I’m going to read some Zen texts or something to unwind. :-)
People should expect a review before I leave for Burning Man. 588 pages to go…