Friday, September 26, 2008

Stephenson Is to Stoppard As...

It took me close to two months, but I finally dragged myself through Neal Stephenson's 900-page philosophical science fiction epic, "Anathem." Oy. I'm a big fan of the author of "Cryptonomicon" and "The Baroque Cycle," but this tale of cloistered scholars making their way into the outside to deal with extraterrestrial visitors was a struggle all the way through. I nearly gave up a couple times, but I persevered, mainly because I knew that The Chronicle should cover the book and that no one else was going to step forward to do so.

It got a little easier once I found a hook for the review. After seeing "Rock 'n' Roll" last week, it struck me that Stephenson is to science fiction as Tom Stoppard is to contemporary drama. Sound far-fetched? Well, read my review from today's Chronicle and see if you agree.

3 comments:

freeb said...

Maybe you'd like it more if you discovered that it wasn't actually about cloistered scholars making their way to the outside...umm...isn't it kind of about philosophy???

Cheryl said...

Thanks Mike, I feel a lot more positive about trying to wade through it myself now.

Michael Berry said...

freeb -- It's all about philosophy, which is fine, if that's what you're looking for at the particular moment.

Cheryl -- It's definitely not anything you want to read on a deadline. But I probably wouldn't have continued without one. There are some great scenes and cool revelations, but I never felt the excitement that "Cryptonomicon" generated.

It does, at least, have a definitive ending.