We've heard rumors about Neal "Snow Crash" Stephenson's new novel, but nothing more concrete than that it would be called Anathem and it would be a space opera about math and aliens. That would mark a real departure for the novelist, who has dealt only with human histories and futures in his previous works like The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Cryptonomicon. Now Lev Grossman, Time magazine's nerd correspondent, has more details about the plot of Anathem.
Grossman says he's received a notice from the publisher with this catalog copy about the book:
Since childhood, Raz has lived behind the walls of a 3,400-year-old monastery, a sanctuary for scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians—sealed off from the illiterate, irrational, unpredictable "saecular" world that is plagued by recurring cycles of booms and busts, world wars and climate change. Until the day that a higher power, driven by fear, decides that only these cloistered scholars have the abilities to avert an impending catastrophe. And, one by one, Raz and his cohorts are summoned forth without warning into the Unknown.
The Return of Stephenson [Nerdworld]