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January's Sci-Fi (Morning Session) - Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Please join us as we discuss Anathem by Neal Stephenson, winner of the 2009 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction novel, and a nominee for the 2009 Hugo, Clarke, and Campbell awards and the 2008 British Science Fiction Award. The book is a relatively long one, at 937 pages.

Please keep your RSVP updated and accurate!* Space is limited for this event. If it fills up, please add yourself to the waiting list if interested. Please note that this is our morning session (our afternoon session can be found here). If enough space opens up in the afternoon session, or if there isn't sufficient interest for our morning session, we may consolidate both sessions into the afternoon timeslot.

From Goodreads:

Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable—yet strangely inverted—world.

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.


*Since missing one of these meetups is taking a spot away from someone else who wants to go, we'll need to have a stricter attendance policy than normal. For book discussions, 3 no-shows in a rolling 3-month period will prohibit you from attending any other book discussion for 2 months after your last no-show. In order to avoid a no-show, please update your RSVP no later than 10pm two nights before a discussion. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation!

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  • Kent

    This was a really wide-ranging discussion, with lots of fun and interesting segues. And even though it was a ponderous tome, it was certainly worth the pondering!

    2 · January 27, 2014

  • Edie

    Some of us really liked Anathem, some, not so much. But we all seemed to think it was a challenging read. I was very happy with our discussion.

    2 · January 26, 2014

  • Bill K.

    Great discussion. I liked some of the book (the history and development of the society) I couldn’t get into all the philosophical discussion whether it was part of philosophy, quantum physics, or the attempt to merge them both. Some funny comments like “Don’t like a book that makes me feel dumb” and “For people looking for a plot and a story, this book wasn’t it.” Why would you want to read a book with a plot anyway? :)

    3 · January 26, 2014

  • Samuel L.

    I have 200 pages left. I spent most of the novel trying to decide if this was incredibly boring or unfathomably brilliant. I'm leaning toward the latter.

    4 · January 24, 2014

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