I forgive Neal Stephenson

… for the sins of his latest novel, Anathem, which mainly consist in the gratuitous coining of new words, as well as the fact that the fucking book is 1000 pages long.*

A friend loaned it to me, and it was slow going for the first couple hundred of pages — I almost decided not to bother. Then he started to amuse me, by, for example, taking the antimonies of reason and attributing them to a bread product. Do you think I am kidding? Flip ahead to pg. 334-336. Soon others, many others, made an appearance, most prominently Plato and David Lewis.** So the amusement continued, and the new words stopped jarring quite so much.

And then it actually resolved into a story. Rather a good one, really, though it may only amuse extreme nerds. It bears some resemblance (although not nearly so comic) to Robert Anton Wilson’s Schrodinger’s Cat.

Finally, it became clear that there is a legitimate, plot-related, reason for the messing with words. If I say what that reason is, it’ll ruin the book, so I won’t — instead, I’ll recommend bearing with it. This was actually an enjoyable book.

* Thank heavens that I read quickly, or I would have gotten no work done at all lately.
** Contributing to my forgiveness is the rather lengthy acknowledgments page on his website, which notes many references that I missed, in addition to the many I caught.


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