I started reading this book at my brother’s while I was visiting to meet my new nephew. The book really does go all over the place with math and philosophy and science fiction. But it all starts with odd religious over tones. A cloistered community with each member only having three possessions, which only interacts with the outside world every 10 years. So it starts out feeling very calm, and hushed, and almost dusty.
By the end though, there has been a trans-polar voyage, not-quite aliens, the most interesting space flight ever, and parallel realities that converge, with individuals remembering those alternate truths.
Just remembering the story makes me so ire because as disjointed as it seems from the description above, it all flows in a very natural and believable way from the cloister to the conclusion.
Another interesting aspect is that at three points in the story, there are ‘scalas’ – diversions from the main story to a detailed lesson (between the characters) about mathematical theories. I don’t know if they are fully necessary to the story, particularly the first one, though I read and enjoyed them.
I think the author originally wrote them into the text, and the editor felt they were too much detail, so they compromised and put them as ‘optional reading’.
This is definitely a thinking book, and not a breeze through it just for the story. But definitely worth the time.