I've been rewatching Cosmos (another surprising musical choice showed up: some Pink Floyd) and in episode 8 (Travels in Space and Time), Carl wonders something very much like:
If we imagine an alternate history in which the Ionian philosophers had been more successful in promoting physicalist explanations of the universe, and if the progress of science had not been set back by the occasional Dark Age, we might well now be travelling to other worlds in spaceships powered by nuclear bombs pushing on giant plates attached to the rear of the ship.
I thought this was sort of curious, since Anathem involves an alternate history in which the progress of science was not arrested by Dark Ages, so that people were now travelling to other worlds in spaceships powered by nuclear bombs pushing on giant plates attached to the rear of the ship.
As I said before, I had my trepidation about the ending of Anathem. These fears were well-founded, since everything practically resolves into the Mega-happy Ending. Stephenson might as well have just gone full-retard Shakespeare on us and given us a double wedding at the end.
Oh, and one science fictional premise was complete bollocks.
Nevertheless, on the whole I very much enjoyed Anathem.