Neal Stephenson is the author of eight novels. He lives in Seattle.
This audiobook goes the extra mile, giving listeners something the printed page-turner can not. Fans of the cult author will enjoy his vocal cameo appearances when he calmly reads definitions from a non-Earth dictionary at the start of many chapters. Another added bonus is the music between chapters that was composed specifically for this production; working with Stephenson and early drafts of the novel, David Stutz beautifully captures the complex traditional, coded choral music described therein. Moreover, the extras do not obscure the remarkable performance by William Dufris, who reads as if he knows the 900+-page text by heart. The story is told by a monastic scholar, and Dufris--with a twinkle in his proverbial eye and a sense of awe in his voice--is the perfect match. His intelligent rendering of the cast of characters is a delight for the ears. A Morrow hardcover (Reviews, July 28). (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
On the world called Arbre, time runs in counterpoint: the ponderous flow of ritual and study behind the doors of the great "maths," or monasteries, against the constant flux of cultural change in the world outside. Devoted to scientific rather than religious practice, these sanctuaries maintain an austere and ceremonial cloistered existence for decades, even centuries, before opening briefly to see what has changed. Every so often, major outside events break the great cycle and force the maths to change. Fraa Erasmas, a not especially distinguished member of one of these cloisters, finds himself at the center of one of these events and, as so often happens, ends up trying to save the world. Stephenson (Cryptonomicon) is not afraid to spend as much time as it takes to explore everything that interests him, whether it's the geometry of cake cutting or the particulars of a 1000-year-old collection of assorted garden furniture. In less skilled hands this might be tedious, but here the layers of world building are the foundation for an enthralling tale that, even at over 900 pages, is over almost too soon. For some fans, this may be a welcome return to sf after his epic historical trilogy, "The Baroque Cycle," but readers with an interest in science and philosophy will also enjoy it--there are dozens of famous ideas and theorems half-hidden throughout the novel. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/08; includes a bonus CD with music composed for Anathem.]--Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.