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  1. #1
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Default Book Club: Anathem Discussion

    It's the 15th!! Did we all make it through part 4? If not, no worries - join in on what you have read or jump in later. I ended up getting through part 5 - it does move a bit faster as the book goes on.

    So, let's discuss! What are your impressions so far? What do you like or dislike about the book?

    Some other ideas to get the discussion started:
    -The clock/clocks in general/time. They seem to be important. What is their significance?
    -Since this is TypoC... what types do you think the main characters are?
    -The Dictionary: Why do we get certain definitions at certain times, sometimes long after the concept has been introduced and we've already looked it up in the glossary anyway. The author must have done this deliberately... why, do you think?

    Those are just some things I've been pondering while reading... feel free to ignore them or throw out your own questions/ideas.
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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  2. #2
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    This is going to be hard for me because I've read it all the way through for the second time and I can't remember where chapter 4 ends. I don't want to get ahead of the discussion. I think I'm going to hang back a bit.

  3. #3
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed the book. It isn't what I'd usually pick up and I might have quit trying to get through the first bit if it hadn't been for a book club (although even in the beginning I liked his writing style - he really brought it to life). The extensive philosophy parts (mostly later in the book - sorry) bored me, although not as much as it ordinarily would so I guess mild props for him?

    Parts 1-4 are really just setting the stage and introducing the characters. I think he does a good job of that. Although maybe he could have introduced new terms more gradually to make the reading go by easier. This book might have been better as a trilogy, even.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle99 View Post
    -The Dictionary: Why do we get certain definitions at certain times, sometimes long after the concept has been introduced and we've already looked it up in the glossary anyway. The author must have done this deliberately... why, do you think?
    I pretty much ignored the definitions. It seems like early in the book, they came after the word had been used, but later in the book they were used more as a hint that the word would be somewhat important in the next bit. You could pick up the meaning of words from the context pretty well anyway. He sometimes even defined the words directly in the text.

    I'm not sure what the meaning of the clock is. It seems to fit perfectly in that world, for some reason.

    Types....not really sure. I mean, the whole mathic world is kinda (ridiculously) NT, I guess. There are probably other types, though. You also don't really know the characters until later in the book.

    I'm bad at discussion apparently, lol.
    -end of thread-

  4. #4
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm not sure the clock had any real 'symbolic meannig'. It's just the rock of the mathic world, needing accurate time in order to note accurate observations. I remember at this point in the book really being intrigued by the whole universe setup and wondering if it was supposed to be in our future, or an alternate universe where something had changed in history. I kept looking for some sort of corrolation between the history they had setup and our own.

  5. #5
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    I really enjoyed the book. It isn't what I'd usually pick up and I might have quit trying to get through the first bit if it hadn't been for a book club (although even in the beginning I liked his writing style - he really brought it to life).
    Same here - I don't usually read a lot of sci fi, so I probably never would have picked it up on my own. But I'm glad I'm reading it! I still have a lot to go - I just finished part 5 - but I'm really enjoying it.

    The thing about the clock is that there are some really interesting times when it is mentioned. A few examples:

    Page 57 (in my copy...), very beginning of part 2:
    The last night of 3689 I dreamed that something was troubling Fraa Orolo, and that everyone had noticed, but on no account would he or anyone else speak of it openly. So it was a mystery. And yet everyone knew what it was: the planets were deviating from their courses, and the clock was wrong.
    To me, the clock being wrong seems very trivial compared to the planets deviating from their courses. I get that the clock is a big deal in the mathic world, but I think it's almost a symbol FOR that world. Then this quote would mean something like, "The planets were deviating from their courses and everything was wrong in our world."

    Another one, just a few pages later (61 in my copy):
    All of the music was syncronized to the clock, which served as metronome and conductor.
    If the clock serves as a metronome, that means that all of their music is at the same tempo. I mean, there could be one beat per second or 4 beats per second or whatever, but the second would always be the base. If that makes sense. I don't know what that means but something about the lack of deviation seems to say something about the way of life in the concent.
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

    My blog:
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  6. #6
    Unlimited Dancemoves ® AgentF's Avatar
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  7. #7
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle99 View Post
    If the clock serves as a metronome, that means that all of their music is at the same tempo. I mean, there could be one beat per second or 4 beats per second or whatever, but the second would always be the base. If that makes sense. I don't know what that means but something about the lack of deviation seems to say something about the way of life in the concent.
    Ah the music reference went over my head. Yes, I was also thinking that the clock could symbolize the "black and white"-ness of the world. But at the same time, it's not a complete analogy because in their world, different interpretations seem to be welcomed and seen as more or less equal....it's just the rules for actions that are black and white, not the rules for thought. Like once they've decided on something, it can't be changed, but up until that point great debate is to be had. I don't know if that's actually a meaningful distinction but it seems like it may be.

    Another note: I really liked the way he designed his made-up words, with sort of connotations (I'm assuming it's intentional). Like avout brings to mind avowed/devout. Fraa, friar/frere, suur, sister/soeur. Saunt/savant, saint....etc.

    edit: also like the clock, the avout "system" stays the same for a very long time (millennia), before eventually breaking down.

    Question to think about: how religious are the avout, overall?
    -end of thread-

  8. #8
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    Another note: I really liked the way he designed his made-up words, with sort of connotations (I'm assuming it's intentional). Like avout brings to mind avowed/devout. Fraa, friar/frere, suur, sister/soeur. Saunt/savant, saint....etc.
    Yeah, I really like that too - saint+savant=saunt, concent is like a play on words between convent and concentric (circles), etc.
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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  9. #9
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Actually, now that I think of it, the clock has an overreaching purpose in the story (besides keeping time and stuff). I can't mention it now.

  10. #10
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    I haven't been able to progress much into the book but from what I've seen, I really enjoyed the setting. I guess I enjoyed the process of imagining the workings of that world more than reading about it. I was intrigued by where that world stands with respect to our world but I suppose I need to read more.

    Another thing I really enjoyed was deciphering the new words. I didn't read any of the definitions and didn't even flip to the glossary since I thought it would be a bit annoying (e-readers..sigh). It wasn't a big act of deciphering as such because there definitely were parallels between those words and words we use.

    I must try to keep reading now.

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