21 August 2001

richard powers, galatea 2.2: i've just finished reading this book and it was fantastic. powers, for those who are unfamiliar with him, is like don delillo with a phd in physics, philosophy, literature, and so forth. quick synopsis: men try to teach machine to read, to comprehend, to explicate. machine evolves into more than they bargained for. in lesser hands, it's short circuit 2; but with powers doing the writing, it's thrilling and heartbreaking -- not only is galatea a cognitive science primer, it's also a manual of human failings, a scrapbook of loves both lost and unrequited. thematically, galatea is about three things: about people stuck in yesterday and people who are the world's tomorrow; machines who strive for life and men who have given up on it; and the word, in all of its guises, and how it brings us together and tears us apart. in galatea, hope is found in the least likely of places and powers' faith in himself -- for he serves as his very own protagonist -- and in his fellows is restored by a machine; his reader, just as fortunate, will find this book capable of the very same. highly recommended.

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