By Neal Stephenson
Anathem, the most recent invention by way of the New York Times bestselling writer of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a powerful production: a piece of serious scope, intelligence, and mind's eye that ushers readers right into a recognizable—yet surprisingly inverted—world.
Fraa Erasmas is a tender avout residing within the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected against the corrupting impacts of the surface "saecular" global via old stone, commemorated traditions, and complicated rituals. Over the centuries, towns and governments have risen and fallen past the concent's partitions. 3 times in the course of history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and lack of expertise has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic neighborhood. but the avout have regularly controlled to conform within the wake of disaster, changing into out of necessity much more austere and not more depending on expertise and fabric issues. And Erasmas has no worry of the outside—the Extramuros—for the final of the negative instances used to be lengthy, in the past.
Now, in party of the week-long, once-in-a-decade ceremony of Apert, the fraas and suurs organize to enterprise past the concent's gates—at a similar time establishing them vast to welcome the curious "extras" in. in the course of his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and kinfolk he hasn't noticeable considering that he was once "collected." yet sooner than the week is out, either the lifestyles he deserted and the single he embraced will stand poised near to cataclysmic switch.
robust unexpected forces jeopardize the peaceable balance of mathic existence and the demonstrated ennui of the Extramuros—a chance that merely an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one after the other, Erasmas and his colleagues, academics, and associates are summoned forth from the protection of the concent in hopes of heading off international catastrophe. all at once pressured with a fantastic accountability, Erasmas unearths himself a huge participant in a drama that may be sure the way forward for his world—as he units out on a rare odyssey that would hold him to the main harmful, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and past.
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Ecologically, even. ” He hadn’t seemed to have heard me. ” “It’s a meaningless question,” I’d said, after having thought about it for a moment. “That’s funny, it seemed meaningful to me,” he’d retorted, a little cross. ” He’d waited. ” I’d said. I had spent a few minutes going up various avenues of explanation, only to find each of them a dead end. “Well,” I’d said finally, “I guess I have to invoke the Steelyard. In the absence of a good argument to the contrary, I have to choose the simplest answer.
Well, the extras—” anathem  “The Sæculars,” Tamura corrected me. “The Sæculars know that we exist. They don’t know quite what to make of us. The truth is too complicated for them to keep in their heads. Instead of the truth, they have simplified representations—caricatures—of us. Those come and go, and have done since the days of Thelenes. ” “Spare me the poetry,” said Grandsuur Tamura with a roll of the eyes. There was a lot of tittering, and I had to force myself not to glance in Tulia’s direction.
Each rose a little bit every time the clock was wound. The cube descended once a year to open the Year Gate and the octahedron every ten years to open the Decade Gate, so both of these were now quite close to the tops of their respective tracks. The dodecahedron and the icosahedron did the same for the century and millenium gates respectively. The former was about nine-tenths of the way to the top, the latter about seven-tenths. So just from looking, you could guess it was about 3689. Much higher in the Præsidium, in the upper reaches of the chronochasm—the vast airy space behind the dials, where all of the clock-work came together—was a hermetically sealed stone chamber that contained a sixth weight: a sphere of grey metal that rode up and down on a jack screw.
Anathem by Neal Stephenson