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->''"Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs. We have a protractor."''
-->--'''Fraa Erasmas'''

''Anathem'' is a novel by Creator/NealStephenson about a world with a monastic organization which, instead of studying God, studies science, mathematics, and philosophy. Members of a mathic order, or "avout", take vows to spend either 1, 10, 100, or 1000 years in complete isolation from the outside world in monasteries called "maths". The only exceptions to this isolation come when they are called out of the maths to help the sęcular world solve some crisis, and during the "sacks", when the sęcular world assaults the mathic orders for being too powerful. Like many of Neal Stephenson's other books he [[ShownTheirWork Shows His Work]] with several appendices of [[InstructionalDialogue Socratic dialogues]] and at least a cursory understanding of geometry and platonic philosophy being helpful. Like ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}'', the book isn't really about the plot; just as ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}'' was really about cryptology and ''Literature/TheBaroqueCycle'' was really about modern economics, ''Anathem'' is really about Platonic epistemology. Applied ''and weaponized'' Platonic epistemology.
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!!Tropes used:

* AerithAndBob: Erasmas, Orolo, Arsibalt, and [[spoiler: Jules Verne, who is descended from our Earth]].
* AfterTheEnd: The calendar sets the year 0 as the "Terrible Events," a near-extinction level nuclear/nanotechnological war. This was more than ''3500 years ago.'' See also ScavengerWorld.
* AllThereInTheManual: The glossary and the appendices.
* AuthorFilibuster: And ''how.''
* BadassGrandpa: [[spoiler:Fraa Jad.]]
* BelligerentSexualTension: [[spoiler:Fraa Erasmas and Suur Ala.]]
* BizarreAlienBiology: The aliens can marginally breathe Arbran air and cannot digest the food, because [[spoiler:they are from other universes where the atoms are shaped a little differently, making them all chemically incompatible with one another.]]
* BookEnds: We are introduced to Erasmas as he is serving as "amanuensis" (recorder, or maybe witness) for a conversation between Fraa Orolo and an artisan from outside. The end has him acting as amanuensis again, in a very different context.
* CallARabbitASmeerp: Many ''technologies'' and ''cultural references'' have been renamed - for instance, cell phones are "jeejahs", Arbre's version of the net is called the "ret" (starting from "reticule" instead of "network"), scientists are called "theors" and martial arts are called "vale-lore" or "vlor". [[spoiler:Quite thoroughly justified, seeing as Arbre is within a chain of [[AlternateDimension Hylaean Theoric Worlds]]. These are similar to one another by definition, and one of them contains Earth, with rabbits and Socrates and Occam's Razor, as opposed to smeerps and Thelenes and Gardan's Steelyard.]]
* CallASmeerpARabbit: With living creatures, as Stephenson says in the introduction that he has, for instance, chosen to refer to Arbran vegetables which are similar but not identical to carrots simply as "carrots."
* ChekhovsGun: More accurately, Chekhov's [[spoiler:sextant]], sphere, bolt, chord, [[spoiler:ForgottenSuperweapon, oxygen, and soup]].
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Barb/Fraa Tavener.
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: A common punishment is to have avout memorize chapters in "The Book." Each chapter is more challenging than the last. While one chapter is simply memorizing the numbers in Pi, others are subtly ''wrong'' in their internal logic ({{nursery rhyme}}s that don't ''quite'' rhyme correctly, for example), making them difficult and taxing to memorize. Legend says only three people ever completed the twelfth chapter, and they all ended up completely insane. The punishment is purely optional, however. Avout can choose to leave the mathic world.
* CutHimselfShaving
* {{Doorstopper}}: It used to be the picture on that page for a reason.
* DyingDream
* DeathFromAbove: Rodding. Very simple. Drop a large dense rod from orbit. Works [[IncendiaryExponent really good]] if you aim at [[spoiler:a dormant volcano]]. Boom. Repeat.
* DoomsdayDevice: Everything Killers are pill-sized neutron bombs that kill everything within a mile and can be placed just about anywhere. The World Burner is also ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* {{Feelies}}: the advanced review copy came with a CD of mathematical chants that the characters sing throughout the book.
* FiveManBand: Raz's group in the early part of the novel forms a perfect FiveManBand.
** TheHero: Fraa Erasmas
** TheLancer: Fraa Jesry
** TheSmartGuy: Fraa Arsibalt
** TheBigGuy: Fraa Lio
** TheChick: Suur Tulia
* FunetikAksent: [[spoiler:Jules' GratuitousFrench, justified as Erasmas has never heard French before and is just taking wild guesses as to the spelling.]]
* GeniusBruiser: Fraa Lio and all the avout of the Ringing Vale. In fact, all of Erasmas' group are big, muscular guys who were selected for the heavy labor of winding the clock.
* GratuitousFrench: [[spoiler:Jules speaks some, and the others don't understand him, going as far as calling rockets "monyafeeks" after misunderstanding his outburst upon seeing one.]]
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Early on, after he gets jumped, Cord stops Arsibalt's nosebleed with what are clearly tampons. She calls them "blood soaker-uppers"
* HanlonsRazor, and its corollary, continually apply to Sęcular society over thousands of years.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Fraa Orolo]], and also [[spoiler: Fraa Jad (sort of).]]
* InfoDump: Like all Neal Stephenson novels, ''Anathem'' contains many of them.
* KangarooCourt: Erasmus is forced to partake in a public interview much like a trial to explain and defend his actions. His interlocutor is heavily against him and poses all of his questions to in an effort to make Erasmus look foolish. Erasmus immediately realizes that he'll have to draw on all his powers of argumentation to get out of the interview unscathed.
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: In-universe, ''Anathem'' is written down by its main character and narrator, Fraa Erasmas. Overlaps with RecursiveCanon, as described below.
* ALongTimeAgoInAGalaxyFarFarAway: [[spoiler: at first; it later turns out to be TheMultiverse, with one of the other dimensions very clearly specified to be near-future Earth.]]
* LostSuperweapon: [[spoiler: World Burner and Everything Killers, oh and the ability to manipulate the multiverse with nothing more than a little chanting.]]
* MindScrew: Plotwise, the book is fairly straightforward, until [[spoiler:Erasmas and Fraa Jad board the alien spaceship]], at which point multiple timelines/universes get involved and it's anyone's guess what the hell is going on. It gets better by the conclusion, though.
* TheMultiverse, thoroughly [[{{Deconstruction}} deconstructed]].
* MorphWeapon
* MountainMan: Yul, as a near-future-tech incarnation of this trope.
* MyNaymeIs: Erasmas, Lio, and Tulia are bastardized from the real-world names Erasmus, Leo, and Talia.
* NanoMachines, or rather, [[spoiler:the femtotechnology of Newmatter]].
* TheObiWan: Fraa [[spoiler:Orolo]].
* OrionDrive: a spacecraft that travels between different dimensions and uses an Orion-style propulsion system. This ship, the Daban Urnud, is discovered by observing the nuclear explosions used to modify its orbit.
* PersecutedIntellectuals: Mathematicians (called "Avout") are confined to monasteries (called "Maths"), and only allowed contact with the outside world once per year, decade, century or millennium. On three occasions the Maths were invaded because the Avout invented technologies considered too dangerous ("new matter", genetic engineering, and [[spoiler: magic]]).
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: [[spoiler:Fraa Jad and, it is hinted, at least some of the Thousanders of the Three Inviolate maths, due to a praxis (read: technology) that allows them to be able to live around their stores of nuclear waste.]] Involves [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide_and_immortality quantum immortality]].
* RecursiveCanon: In addition to the LiteraryAgentHypothesis being in use, earlier chapters of the book are discovered by concent officials at one point in the story, and they directly quote parts of the story as evidence in a hearing, which, of course, is written down in the book...
* RedShirt: The Valers avert this in Mahsht. Bonus points for doing it while actually wearing red shirts.
* RockBeatsLaser: (see page quote). Works until [[spoiler: both sides break out the femtotechnology, planet burners, and everything killers]].
* RubberForeheadAliens: The people on the ship look human, but slightly different in a way that Erasmas can't quite describe. This is because [[spoiler:they're humans from [[TheMultiverse the universe next door]]). ]]
* SchizoTech: Justified.
* ScavengerWorld: Played with and justified. Arbre has been at a relatively high level of technological development (on and off) for at least four thousand years. Background events suggest that the natural resources of the planet are almost completely depleted. The cars are powered by a processed fuel that originates in genetically engineered trees, and strip-mining abandoned cities for raw materials is a major industry. Several key pieces of high technology are built from designs that are hundreds or thousands of years old. This includes [[spoiler: the space suits.]]
* ScrewPolitenessImASenior
* ShoutOut: One of the Iconographies the sęcular world sometimes associates with the avouts invokes Franchise/StarTrek. Another Iconography involves {{Superman}}.
* ShowWithinAShow
* ShownTheirWork: a given for Neal Stephenson novels. Three appendices provide intricately-constructed mathematical underpinnings for plot events or, occasionally, just some exposition. The credits for the book are voluminous and kept online for ease of update.
* SomedayThisWillComeInHandy
* StrawmanPolitical: Poor Fraa Lodoghir, who exists for the sole purpose of asking stupid questions on behalf of [[StrawmanU the Procian school of thought.]] Perhaps the first recorded instance of a Strawman Quantum Theorist. [[spoiler: Although his final conversation with Erasmas suggests this was ObfuscatingStupidity and he knew precisely what Fraa Jad was capable of and did.]]
* TakeMyHand
* TomatoSurprise: [[spoiler:Jules Verne Durand]].
* TranslationConvention: The book is [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis written by its protagonist/narrator]] in Orth; it's just presented to us in English for our benefit. Nearly all dialogue is actually in Orth, with some small parts in Fluccish, though both languages are presented to us in English. The only actual Orth we get to see consists of character/place names. [[spoiler:Also, when one character who speaks French shows up, his French is written in a FunetikAksent, as the narrator has no idea how French is supposed to be spelled]].
* UncannyVillage: [[spoiler:Orithena appears to be a Concent but is subtly different]].
* UnreliableNarrator: [[spoiler: It's not that he's lying, it's just that the records on hand prove him wrong...]]
* WarriorMonk: Lio and the avout of the Ringing Vale, though they're monks of logic and science rather than religion. The science part actually comes in pretty handy when they're called on to [[spoiler: do a special ops mission ''in space'']].
** They're the only avout in the world who make a study of athleticism and martial arts.
* WrenchWench: Cord
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