Monday, August 29, 2011

Galatea 2.2: A Short Review

In 1999 I cracked open the book Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers, wrote my name and the year in the upper righthand corner of the book and then never read another page. For years the book has followed me through moves, a marriage, a baby, the demolition of my hometown courtesy of a monster tornado, and here I am in 2011 - the year it finally felt right to start reading the book suggested to me by my favorite college professor, now deceased.

The story mixes science, computers, and the frailty and imagination of the human spirit with masterful language that reminds one of the power writers have over us in their possession of words and how to use them. Galatea 2.2 haunts, inspires, and mourns with us... or even through us.

Galatea 2.2 is perfect for me right now - a tale of a man broken down to the point of existential nihilism who finds stirrings of emotion and meaning within the AI and circuitry of a companion in the ether. The irony - that the intelligence in the computer might finally be more human that the protagonist - is not lost on me when I find myself struggling with spending more time with the people in my life than all my devices and gadgets.

Read this book if:

  • You love language
  • You are immersed in computers all day
  • You occasionally feel unnecessary in life
  • You really, really, really need a non-working vacation
RATING: 5 out of 5


  1. Spending more time with people. Hmm. Have to go online and research the costs/benefits of that. )

  2. A great review, KiKi. I read the book not long after it came out -- circa 1996 -- and while I remember wishing for fewer postmodern tics (Richard Powers writing about "Richard Powers," etc.), as an English major, editor, etc. I really responded to the idea that how we express ourselves is how we define ourselves as human.

  3. Looking forward to adding it to my collection and my reading list. - Adrienne Bryant


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