1957–, American novelist, b. Evanston, Ill., grad. Univ of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (B.A., 1978; M.A, 1980). He taught at his alma mater from 1996 to 2013, when he joined Stanford's faculty. One of the most technologically savvy writers in contemporary literature, Powers became fascinated with computers and taught himself to program. Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance
(1985) was his first novel, but The Gold Bug Variations
(1991), a kind of intellectual mystery story that combines genetics, computer science, and polyphonic music, first brought him considerable critical acclaim, much of it from scientists. Galatea 2.2
(1995) explores artificial intelligence
; Plowing the Dark
(2000), virtual reality
. Other novels include Prisoner's Dilemma
(1998), The Time of Our Singing
(2003), and The Echo Maker
(2006, National Book Award). The Overstory
(2019, Pulitzer Prize) tells of nine strangers who come together to save America's few remaining virgin forests. It glorifies the natural world, and its ecovisionary fables range from antebellum New York to the 20th-century Pacific Northwest Timber Wars.
See studies by J. Dewey (2002), S. J. Burn and P. Dempsey (2008), and A. Kley (2012).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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