Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anathem - Neal Stephenson

It has been a while since I have updated the vintage crime blog, mostly because I have been reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson. It's not crime fiction, but I'm a huge Stephenson fan. My first Stephenson Novel was Snow Crash, Followed by Diamond Age, then Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle (3 tomes, about 2700 pages!) and now Anathem.

Anathem is set in a futuristic alternative reality, where there is a divided world. Secular and Mathic. In the Mathic world, people live an acetic lifestyle, studying mathematics, astronomy, geometry and other aspects of basic science. They only mix with the secular world at set intervals or 1, 10, 100 or 1000 years. The longer they are secluded, presumably the smarter they are, and may even have mystical powers.

The story follows Fraa Erasmus, a decenarian (he gets out once every ten years) who finds himself in a complex situation involving the secular government, aliens, and the politics of believing in God versus pure math.

The first 100 pages are difficult to read. There is a certain vocabulary you have to learn involving the Mathic world. Stephenson also uses made up words to describe normal objects, such as jeejah (cellphone) and speelycaptor (video camera). Once you get the lingo, it is totally unobtrusive. The story is actually compelling, involves discussion of religion, metaphysics and politics. Without giving too much away, about 75% through the novel, I literally FREAKED OUT when something happened. It was awesome.

This is a blend of sci-fi and almost a little bit of historical fiction, since they live a kind of medieval backwards lifestyle in the Mathic world. You can't give up though! You have to push through those first 100 pages to get the language down.

Right now I'm reading a manuscript that a twitter friend wrote. I should be finished with that in a few days, then I am hoping to get back to some Elvis Cole! I've also been considering some vintage Lawrence Block!

No comments:

Post a Comment