Reseña de “ANATEMA” de Neal Stephenson – Nova, Ed. B

AnathemaI believe that Anathema It is one of the best science fiction books I've read this 2009. But I am obliged to warn in advance that it is not easy to read and it is necessary to perform an act of faith during the first 150 pages of the book. That said, the typical good book by Neal Stephenson: great prose, good sense of humor, impeccable setting and well created and deep characters. all a joy. If you also like philosophy, music, mathematics and science in general, then you would not stop reading.

Writing this review will not be easy (hence this task has been delayed a few weeks), there is much to explain and much to consider.

As far as the argument is concerned, Stephenson unveils us little by little the story of a planet called Arbre, like Earth but not the same, with a history of collapse and social and cultural rebirth that has taken so far in which the action of this book lies. The actual plot begins with the discovery in the sky Arbre of an alien spacecraft orbiting the planet for two years. Our protagonist and his companions sources (As Arbre vocabulary, people who have sworn to follow the Discipline Cartasiana and they are living in a kind of monasteries called concentos) Shall establish contact with the ship and try to understand these strange beings coming from elsewhere and not chemically or culture share with the people of Arbre.

Without warning, Stephenson puts us squarely in the culture of Arbre, using vocabulary and concepts of Arbre, which for the poor mortals of Earth are really hard to understand (these are the 150 pages that need to overcome in order to fully enjoy the book) ... in the end, total immersion is appreciated and you see that gives the book a rich and exquisite dimension that would otherwise not be achieved, but at first ... phew, you have to repeat yourself like a mantra "this is a book Stephenson, I have faith"A few times, to keep going and not give up when you get whole paragraphs that do not understand ... to illustrate, here's an example:

“Tres fras y dos sures cantaron un motete en cinco partes mientras otros doce revoloteaban frente a ellos. En realidad, no estaban revoloteando, aunque desde donde estábamos daba esa impresión. Cada uno de ellos representaba el índice superior o inferior de una ecuación teorética sobre ciertos tensores y una métrica. Al desplazarse de un lado a otro, cruzándose e intercambiando posiciones mientras se movían frente a la mesa principal, estaban representando un cálculo sobre la curvatura de una variedad tetradimensional, con varios pasos de simetrización, antisimetrización y elevación y descenso de índices. Si alguien que no supiese nada de teorética lo hubiese visto desde arriba, se habría llevado la impresión de que era un baile campestre. La música era encantadora a pesar de que cada pocos segundos el gimoteo de los cismexes la interrumpía.”

... This paragraph corresponds to page 120 of the book. I promise to prospective readers that by the end of the book, passages like this are totally clear and understandable ... at least as regards vocabulary. Little by little you discover that a "cismex"It is something advanced to a mobile phone, a"syntactic device that uses quantum theoretical"It is something like a quantum computer and when referring to a Faraday chamber do calling it a 'Cesto of Bucker Sante"... It ends up being even fun to appreciate the changes in vocabulary.

I selected this paragraph in particular for another reason: the "...cantaron and motets". And I thought that probably only the 16 geeks that we meet every Wednesday to pay tribute to Piarist father introduced us to music 30 years ago and we respect singing motets in his honor, knew what a motet !!! It turns out that Stephenson knows, and what is more important in this case, the translator of the book also knows !!! In fact, the great honoree commenting Anathema should be the translator, so I'm going to devote the next paragraph of this review.

Pedro Jorge Romero: This is a Galician-making that I think is my age (1967 ... c'mon) and I admire for his work, for many years. I think I discovered it around 1995 on the Internet in news groups devoted to science fiction. Already in 2003, 2004 and 2005 while I was in Noticias.com sindicaba RSS content your blog to incorporate the articles published in this newspaper online, for its originality and because I loved. Peter George was also a fanzine editor BEM Science Fiction that was all the rage in the 90s, and the alma mater of Nessus file (An extinct website dedicated to science fiction). Along with Rafael Marin (another author and translator who has stolen my heart) are who translate a large part of the books of Ediciones B Nova collection, dedicated to the science fiction and directs Miquel Barceló. I know that some credit that enchant me Neal Stephenson's books is thanks to the work of Pedro Jorge Romero. So I am very grateful. In the case of AnathemaThe work of Pedro Jorge must have been very difficult and deserves my sincere compliments and congratulations.

Back to AnathemaIn addition to the theme of "motets” también me ha entusiasmado el trato científico que da a la música y concretamente al poder de los armónicos que producen los bajos, que se acoplan tanto al lugar en el que se cantan como físicamente en la cabeza de quienes cantan, llegando a modificar (según el protagonista de ésta historia…) el funcionamiento de la mente. Seguro que los monjes budistas del Tíbet están de acuerdo con él.

In short, it is a book that I loved, which is long to read through more than 700 pages, but after the first 100 pages is bearable, but you end up with wrist pain if you try to read several hours. The book suggests dream and, above all, as you discover why why the alien ship is in orbit Arbre.

The book is 100% recommended if you are an advanced reader of Science Fiction, for someone starting out would not recommend it because it is too "hard" to start both the CF and Stephenson's world. Instead, it would recommend starting with reading Stephenson Baroque cycle, with the Criptonomicón or even better, Snow Crash which is much simpler, if you want to get into it gently.

We talk to each other.

11 replies
  1. Antonio de la Torre
    Antonio de la Torre says:

    After reading The Star Pandora / Judas Unchained Peter F. Hamilton, I caused a bit of laziness read another large book in such a short space of time. Also, I have not read anything Neal Stephenson, although I have pending in the stack of books the first volume of Criptonomicón.

    But hey, after reading your review I have no choice but to give it a try ...

    Vice blessed this science-fiction)

  2. Montse
    Montse says:

    I understand Antonio, after reading Anathema, also I concentrated on shorter books ... but as you indicate, this is a vice, so now I'm having an affair again with one of these 700 pages (733 specifically). This is Brian d'Amato 2012, which interestingly, so far, has almost nothing in common with the eponymous film and is quite entertaining.
    Star Pandora have not read it, but I read some reviews that make it very well, so I will seek.

    We talk to each other.

  3. Jordi Vila
    Jordi Vila says:

    Just great ... if you can apply this adjective to BOUT Stephenson.
    What you comment on the first pages I guess it depends on everyone, but I found them very interesting to get to understand the universe in which the book is engaged. But those endless descriptions that take you and force you to go deeply within the framework created by the author.
    See you.

  4. Ansset
    Ansset says:

    The book is amazing and a big surprise when I started on page 1 when I was amazed at the 2 and when I got carried away in the 3 to the end. I had not enjoyed so much "trying hard" to understand everything. Amazingly, at the height of the largest, and put it in the top 5 of the genre. Time to time.
    I agree with you praise the work of Pedro Jorge Romero with translation.

  5. ANTONIO QUINTANA
    ANTONIO QUINTANA says:

    Hello Montse:

    I just read on the site of science fiction, in which collaborated since 2006, your great review of this work, contained in my Bilbioteca but I have not yet read. Your comment has encouraged me already llerla, and surely the coemnzaré tonight. Congratulations.

    Antonio Quintana Carrandi

  6. Neordental
    Neordental says:

    Hello Montse:

    I have come to this review by chance, it is the first time I visit your blog, and really come up with a series of questions that can hopefully resolve -or want-, and considering that this entry is almost 5 years.

    Para no liarme mucho, me gustaría pedirte una serie de recomendaciones de entre tus libros favoritos de Sci-fi. Yo soy un jovenzuelo al que le gusta mucho leer, pero digamos que únicamente leo literatura “seria” o “prestigiosa”: Kafka, Tolstoi, Faulkner, Gaddis, Barth, Pynchon, Rulfo, Nabokov, etc. Siempre me ha interesado mucho la sci-fi, pero en literatura, a diferencia que en el cine -donde puedes adorar a Tarkovsky, Bergman o Tarr, a la vez que tienes entre tus favoritas cintas noirs como Chinatown o Westerns clásicos- la etiqueta de género siempre ha tenido mala reputación, como de arte de segunda categoría.

    Llegué a tu reseña curioseando por ahí cosas sobre Stephenson, autor que me ha llamado mucho la atención, con cosas como Criptonomicón y sobre todo su Ciclo Barroco, que por estilo y ambición me recordaba un poco a Pynchon -de hecho, en una entrevista el bueno de Neal se declaraba fan del genio-. Y ahora leo en tu reseña que lo consideras un gran prosista y me ilusiono un poco: ¿Te parece un gran prosistas como pueden serlo algunos de los escritores que nombré en el párrafo anterior? ¿O es un gran prosista dentro de su mundillo? ¿Es sólo un prejuicio de elitistas y la literatura de género cuenta con grandes genios o existe esa diferencia real? Respecto a esto me llamó mucho la atención un comentario del mítico Alejo Cuervo diciendo que nunca había leído a Flaubert o Proust -y muchas cosas más-, porque aunque estéticamente fueran superiores no le interesaban. A mí me gustaría destacar que me interesa lo estético por encima de todo, puede seducirme la creación de un universo y una rica imaginación, pero sin una gran escritura creo que me gustará poco.

    Now I'm reading 'Neuromancer' and achieved except for its atmosphere, with a taste very noir at the beginning, and the rich universe that creates Gibson, is not looking me much. I have also thought reading 'Snow Crash' soon to begin with Stephenson. And finally, Montse, if you've come this far, I thank you very much, and sorry for the verbosity, but it would be fantastic to guide me a bit and I provide us with a good list of great books sci-fi-classical, steampunk, cyberpunk , anyway as you encanten- to see if I can tear down this alleged bias of low-class literature:

    A greeting.

  7. another fra
    another fra says:

    I just finished and the book is amazing. The "hidden" cultural references to the thought of all ages is just great

  8. Montserrat
    Montserrat says:

    Thank you very much to all for your contributions and comments! Neordental, I apologize for not replying to your comment, I was was "caught" between spam and I have not seen until today. You make a lot of questions, and take a lot of time to respond ... but let's see:
    Yo no le doy muchas vueltas a la compra de libros de SCIFI. Me dejo guiar por el criterio de los directores de colección. Compro todos los de Factoria de Ideas, y todos los de NOVA, que siempre vienen prologados por Miquel Barceló, que me encanta y admiro muchísimo. Los clásicos ya los leí cuando “era pequeña” (empecé a los 16 con “I, Robot” de Asimov). Los últimos que he leído son “Un talento para la guerra” de Jack Mc Devitt (que no me ha levantado pasiones), “Estado de transmisión” de Chris Moriarty (que tampoco me ha gustado especialmente) y “Justicia Auxiliar” de Ann Leckie (que me ha encantado y que sería digno de una de mis reseñas, si tuviese tiempo para hacerlas… a ver si por Semana Santa tengo un rato :-)
    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to make a comment as elaborate and again, apologies for not responding when touched.
    A big hug.

  9. Isidro Morales
    Isidro Morales says:

    I thought it was a great detail of your party homenajearas the translator, you're very right about that, otherwise excellent review.

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