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By Neal Stephenson

Anathem, the newest invention through the New York Times bestselling writer of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is an impressive production: a piece of serious scope, intelligence, and mind's eye that ushers readers right into a recognizable -- but unusually inverted -- world.

Fraa Erasmas is a tender avout dwelling 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. thrice in the course of history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and lack of understanding has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic group. but the avout have consistently controlled to conform within the wake of disaster, changing into out of necessity much more austere and no more depending on know-how and fabric issues. And Erasmas has no worry of the skin -- the Extramuros -- for the final of the poor instances was once lengthy, lengthy ago.

Now, in party of the week-long, once-in-a-decade ceremony of Apert, the fraas and suurs arrange to enterprise past the concent's gates -- whilst starting them huge to welcome the curious "extras" in. in the course of his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and relatives he hasn't visible due to the fact he was once "collected." yet prior to the week is out, either the life he deserted and the single he embraced will stand poised near to cataclysmic change.

Powerful unexpected forces jeopardize the peaceable balance of mathic lifestyles and the confirmed ennui of the Extramuros -- a chance that in basic terms an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose -- as, one after the other, Erasmas and his colleagues, lecturers, and acquaintances are summoned forth from the security of the concent in hopes of keeping off worldwide catastrophe. without warning careworn with a unbelievable accountability, Erasmas reveals himself a massive participant in a drama that might ascertain the way forward for his global -- as he units out on a rare odyssey that may hold him to the main risky, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and past.

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Example text

Yes," Martinho said. " "I hope you don't believe I'd do this for love," Vierho said. He inched the shield forward another meter. A foggy area began to form where the acid had hit. " Vierho said, astonishment filling his voice. "Smelled something like Oxalic," Martinho said. "Must be stronger, though. Take it slow now. " The creature began sliding to their right along the fountain. Vierho turned the shield to cover this new approach. The creature stopped, retraced its steps. "Wait a bit," Martinho said.

Too big and clumsy," Martinho said. "Besides, I think the truck might frighten it into attempting a break through the crowd. " The giant chigger took this moment to dart toward them, stop and crawl backwards. It kept its nose aimed at the shield and presented a steady target, but too much of the water curtain fell between it and Martinho for a safe shot. "The wind is at our backs, Jefe," Vierho said. "I know. Let's hope that thing hasn't the wit to shoot over our heads. " The chigger backed into an area where the fountain's upper structure shadowed it from the searchlights.

Vierho urged the shield closer, bent to peer past the acid fogging. The giant chigger danced sideways, turned, darted off to the right along the fountain rim. Abruptly, it whirled, arched a stream of acid at them. The liquid glistened under the searchlights like a high curve of jewels. Vierho barely had time to swerve the shield into the new attack. "By the blood of ten thousand saints," Vierho muttered. " "This is no bull, my brother. " "We talk too much," Martinho said. " Vierho urged the shield ahead until a bare two meters separated them from the creature on the fountain.

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