Bag of Spoons
Just off the A1(M)

Sat, 03 Jan 2009

Anathem

I've read just about everything by Neal Stephenson. His books are pretty geeky and that's what I like. This one is different in that it is set on another planet, but it's not that alien. Civilisation there has split between the general populace and orders of monk-like 'Avout' who cut themselves off in their 'Concents' (monasteries) for powers of 10 years to study science, philosophy etc, but with little 'modern' technology. Their long-term thinking has chimed with the Long Now Foundation who helped to launch the book.

The story follows a young avout through various adventures as his stable lifestyle is disrupted by world-shaking events. It's a fun adventure, but is seriously stretched out by lots of philosophical discussion. Some of that went over my head. By the time I got to the end I had lost track of who some of the characters were, but I may do better on a second read. The book includes a useful glossary for the many words he has made up and some appendices expanding on thought experiments mentioned in the story.

I enjoyed the book. It could have been shorter, but at least he managed a better ending than he usually does. I would recommend working through his earlier books before tackling this one.

I'll update the details on my book list. The concept has been expanded to include a CD of music that the avout would use in their ceremonies. Not sure I'd listen to it for fun.

I'm not sure what I will read next. We have various books that I've not read yet, but I also have some magazines that I've not got around to reading. I spend far too much time trying to keep up with all the interesting stuff on the web. We are being overwhelmed with data. Even if you filter out the crap there is still too much for any one person to deal with, even within a limited field.

[15:11] | [/Review] | Comments | G
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