Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Stephenson's novels teach even though they're only fiction - they teach history and mathematics and human nature and philosophy. Anathem teaches all of these things except for history, and even then it does teach history; it's just that it teaches history that isn't exactly ours.
I don't connect with Anathem the same way I connect with most of Stephenson's other work; part of this is because I just haven't read it as many times as, say Cryptonomicon, but part of this is because so much of the book is focused on philosophy instead of story. It's all interesting, philosophically speaking, but I spend most of my time reading wishing that there was a little more to the story.
It's not, by any means, a bad book. Anathem is, however, a very dense and somewhat slow book. Having now read it twice I'm interested in reading it again, but I think it'll be a few years before I find myself peeling back the cover.
I like being taught by the books I'm reading, I like learning, but it seems like most of the things that happen in Anathem happen only to teach the reader, not to advance the plot.
The book is totally worth reading, and what story there is is very interesting and takes place in a fascinating world, but don't expect a goofy pace or as much of the wonderful humor that is usually so characteristic in a Stephenson novel.
Stephenson, Neal. Anathem. WM Morrow. New York: New York. 2008.