Read This: Orfeo

Richard Powers, OrfeoI’m writing the occasional book review and literary feature for The Daily Beast now, and this weekend they published “The Bioterrorist Who Loved Mahler,” where I look at the new Richard Powers novel, Orfeo.

I’ve been a fan of Powers for nearly two decades, since my discovery of Galatea 2.2 coincided with my initial fascination with the new-fangled Internet back in the mid-’90s, and I’ve written other articles about why his previous novel Generosity, as well as several of the novels before that, ought to be classified as science fiction. I feel the same way about Orfeo to some extent, although it’s also (I think) utterly within the realm of scientific plausibility based on contemporary technology. So maybe an apt comparison might be the most recent novels of William Gibson, although—even with a man-on-the-run premise—Powers is distinctly less action-oriented, more overtly geared towards immersive contemplative sequences.

This was a fun review to write: I got to namecheck Milton Babbitt and Philip K. Dick, and how often does that opportunity present itself naturally, right?

25 January 2014 | read this |