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June 30, 2009


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I'm not reading it because Stephenson never bothers finishing all the stories he starts. My best novel ballot was:

Best Novel

( ) Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
(3) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
(2) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
(1) Saturn's Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
( ) Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
( ) No Award

Well, this one is finished, though it's a bit abrupt after that much novel.

I really did not like Saturn's Children (see a few posts back).

I did. I liked all the references to other books.

My husband and I (both scientists) just finished reading Anathem aloud to each other over a period of 3-4 months. I would argue that it's much better done that way: having someone to discuss interesting/difficult points with is really useful - also, the speed of reading aloud means that your brain has more time to process the challenging material. Trying to read it solo in three days is very definitely NOT recommended as the best way to read this book.

The other interesting difference between our experience and yours is that, about halfway through the book, Stephenson puts in a couple of back-to-back sequences that feel like they were part of an action film script. We found the first of these particularly tiresome and unnecessary; the second, not so much so because it introduced characters focal to later plot stuff). But we were really quite glad when things calmed down and Stephenson got back to the math/science/philosophy stuff!

Definitely a book for which the mileage for different readers will vary.

It was definitely not the ideal way to do it, but I didn't know that when I started. I'm normally a very fast reader, and I didn't realize quite how dense a book it was.

Midway through, I actually considered voting without finishing it, so I called up a friend who'd read it to see if she could swear to me that it maintained that level of quality throughout. She said it did, but I decided to finish it anyway. Also, it was due at the library before I left for vacation!

I think I'd like to reread it at a more leisurely pace sometime, with plenty of referencing the glossary and researching the philosophy as I go. It might be a neat group-reading project, actually.

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