2008 1st edition "First Edition" stated; William Morrow publishers, New York; large hardbound in brown and ebony boards with gilt stamp lettering and decor on cover and spine; very good condition with unmarked pages; dust jacket very good.
Anathem is a science fiction novel by American writer Neal Stephenson, published in 2008. Major themes include the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and the philosophical debate between Platonic realismand nominalism.
Anathem is set on and around the fictional planet Arbre. Thousands of years before the events in the novel, the planet's intellectuals entered concents (monastic communities) to protect their activities from the collapse of society. The avout (intellectuals separated from Sæcular society) retain extremely limited access to tools and are banned from possessing or operating most advanced technology and are supervised by the Inquisition, which answers to the outside world. The avout are allowed to communicate with people outside the walls of the concent only once every year, decade, century, or millennium, depending on the particular vows they have taken.
The narrator and protagonist, Fraa Erasmas, is an avout at the Concent of Saunt Edhar. His primary teacher, Fraa Orolo, discovers that an alien spacecraft is orbiting Arbre – a fact that the Sæcular Power attempts to cover up. Orolo secretly observes the alien ship with a video camera, technology that is prohibited for the avout. Erasmas becomes aware of the content of Orolo's research after Orolo is banished (in a rite called Anathem) from the Mathic World for his possession and use of proscribed technology within the concent. But the presence of the alien ship soon becomes an open secret among many of the avout at St. Edhar. The alien ship eventually declares its presence by shining a laser upon the Millenarian Math of Saunt Edhar, the bastion of those avout who have taken a thousand-year vow not to interact with the outside world. Shortly after that, the Sæcular Power evoke (call forth) many avout from Saunt Edhar, including Erasmas, as well as one Millenarian – Fraa Jad.
Erasmas and several companions, on Fraa Jad's suggestion, decide to seek out Orolo. After a dangerous journey over the planet's frozen pole...