AnathemAnathem by Neal Stephenson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliantly conceived and executed book on several levels. What would Earth be like if religion were treated as a secular business venture while mathematics and science were elevated to the heights of spiritual pursuits? What if mathematicians and scientist were cloistered away in monastic settings and required to do all their abstract thinking isolated from the outside world and all its corrupting influences?

Anathem follows the life of a young novice mathematician. His existence is almost entirely the ritual of study and dialectics. Stephenson has his characters work out the most intricate proofs and theorems in the simple language of logic, as if they were disciples of Plato discussing the nature of the universe or rabbinic scholars arguing over the Torah.

And like any monastery, there are rigid rules and traditions and there are always those special individuals who push the envelope when the necessity for change arises. I found this book fiendishly clever and inventive. It’s a thousand pages long, and I wished it would never end.

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