Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Galatea 2.2” as Want to Read:
Galatea 2.2
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Galatea 2.2

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,864 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
After four novels and several years living abroad, the fictional protagonist of Galatea 2.2—Richard Powers—returns to the United States as Humanist-in-Residence at the enormous Center for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There he runs afoul of Philip Lentz, an outspoken cognitive neurologist intent upon modeling the human brain by means of computer-based neural networks. Le ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Picador (first published 1995)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Galatea 2.2, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Galatea 2.2

2001 by Arthur C. ClarkeI, Robot by Isaac AsimovDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickNeuromancer by William GibsonThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Best artificial intelligence books
40th out of 166 books — 311 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. RowlingMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenA Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Best Books of the Decade: 1990's
368th out of 1,775 books — 2,182 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Nov 02, 2010 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Romantics, Scientists
Shelves: fiction
This book is about relationships—the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences, both within and beyond the walls of the academy and the lab; between cognitive neuroscience and literary fiction; between the romantically entangled; between human beings, period; between mind and matter. Richard Powers—an author I now have tremendous affection for—strikes an impeccable balance in his use and examination of these varied relationships. Consequently, this book was both intellectually ...more
Apr 24, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ALL OF *YOU*!
Recommended to Jessica by: leetle brother, eric simon, my flesh sings out, etc.
I hate the Internet because of the comments section. On blogs, on YouTube, on the New York Times website, the hate-filled, aliterate hive mind rules, spewing bile and LOLZ and telling a truth about humanity that I can't bear to face. That truth is that we as a species have blown our legacy. These great big brains with their potential are just atrophied damaged lumps, twitching out asinine trivialities and ignorant, brutal crap. The Internet makes me embarrassed to be human, embarrassed even to b ...more
Nov 16, 2010 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Software geeks who like books
Recommended to Manny by: Jessica
People see different things in this unusual book. Let me start with the undisputed facts. The novel is written by Richard Powers, and its narrator is a character also called Richard Powers. The narrator and the author share a good deal of personal history. Among other things, they have both written three novels with the same titles and, as far as I can judge, similar content. They are both Americans who lived in Thailand when they were children, moved to Holland when they were adults, and learne ...more
Ian GalaDali
Measurement for Words

This novel seduces you, both emotionally and intellectually. It starts like a romance, albeit one set on campus, but ends up an exceptional work of meta-fiction.

The first person narrator, an author, a homonymic namesake of the real Richard Powers, has written four novels that sound like the ones on my shelves, has suffered the break-up of an 11 year old relationship while living in Holland, and is now confronting writer's block.

He is ostensibly "working" for 12 months as a
Jan 15, 2011 Oriana rated it it was ok
post: Well, I did it, I finished the fucking thing. And I continued to hate it, all the way to the end.

I just never got it. It seemed so overblown, so overdramatic, so so so overwritten! Sure, it's a story about artificial intelligence, which I suppose has to be written about metaphorically. But oh my god, the density of metaphors was just suffocating. Plus the emotions our "hero" developed for his machine? Come on. I never for a second bought it that this guy would develop this depth of feelin
Sep 11, 2013 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: always-rereading
My thoughts on Richard Powers have been expressed before. He remains a divisive figure. Many doubt his prowess. Some find him too American. This could be an example of Asperger's literature. I object to that last sentiment. This is a novel with heart. Somewhere between artificial intelligence and Ani Difranco, Mr Powers afforded voice to a muddled world of emotions and violence: both somehow framed in the altered world of office hours. His ouerve often appears to be talking therapy. He's backtra ...more
Nov 12, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing
This is another book I wish I had read while in graduate school, when it was published. I think passages like this one would have made me feel less alone and stupid, particularly since they are penned by someone who is very much an intellectual, and who cares deeply about language:

I watched them up close, our opponents, the curators of the written language. I moved among them, a double agent. I listened around the mailboxes, in the coffee room. Criticism had gotten more involuted while I was aw
Marc Kozak
Jul 14, 2015 Marc Kozak rated it really liked it
Scenario: you and your friend watch a movie in which someone says something interesting and factual about elephants. A few weeks later, you and your friend are taking part in a group conversation, when the topic inexplicably shifts to elephants. Your friend nonchalantly says "well actually, did you know that elephants can control their body temperature with their ears?" Everyone is very impressed. The group assumes your friend must be some kind of expert zoologist. Meanwhile, in your head, you'r ...more
G.R. Reader
May 04, 2014 G.R. Reader rated it liked it
I hate to be the one to tell you, Richard, but you're just not geeky enough.
Feb 2015
Having heard Richard Powers say in an old radio interview that the readers’ letters which mattered the most to him were from people who’d felt understood by a book - they identified; it reminded them of someone they knew – I’m now a whole lot more comfortable with my personal, ineloquent responses to his work. (Powers’ voice is lovely – vitally – and I so rarely like American accents… but he’s none of the things that annoy me about America/ns.) On the importance of books making one feel
MJ Nicholls
Jan 23, 2011 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing
Recommended to MJ by: Stuart Kelly
Shelves: novels, merkins
An astonishing masterpiece from a genius with a horribly schlocky name.

The reviews by MyFleshSingsOut and Manny are amazing, so read those for specifics.

And read Oriana's review for an hilarious savaging.
May 05, 2012 AC marked it as i-get-the-picture
Shelves: science-fiction
I don't think I know enough science to read this (novel though it be) -- well, I KNOW I don't. And what's worse is realizing that, as advanced as this stuff sounds, it's already nearly 20 years old (1995). Yikes!

I guess that explains my interest in the Middle Ages... in a real sense, I'm still living in them.

Anyway -- it seems like a pretty impressive book.
Nov 07, 2014 Jill rated it liked it
I can't wrap my head around this book. Usually, that's a good thing: it requires effort; it's just that little bit too complex; it's stretching me in some new direction I've never been.

Galatea 2.2 isn't really any of that, or at least not consistently. It's just frustrating.

That's not to say there isn't some payoff through the frustration: the prose is stellar -- rich and fantastical. Helen is adorable and touching, in her way (though she's the only character who is, and she's a machine, so), an
Jun 17, 2014 Jeffrey rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Sorry Richard, this just doesn't work. I have not read anything by Richard Powers before, so I had no preconceived notions about him. Unfortunately, I was not impressed. Maybe, as one reviewer said, I am not smart enough. I certainly missed many of the literary references, but was this book supposed to be targeted at English majors with an interest in artificial intelligence? I don't think so, because there are only two and one of them is Powers.

This novel failed me in several ways. First, as a
Jun 18, 2014 bxa rated it liked it
As a big enthusiastic fan of Powers' work, I was really looking forward to reading Galatea 2.2 - this time though, he was, I am afraid, really too smart for me.
Started out with this book as bedside read - not a good idea.
Got more into it when I moved it to the pile of "books to read when really in a good and concentrated mood - and when sitting upright".

Still, whenever I thought he got me hooked with the really good and Powers-like smart story on the difficulties of love (and expressing those fe
May 07, 2009 Goggly rated it it was amazing
While reading this book, I grew annoyed and disliked so much of it. The gimmicks frustrated, the narrator while intelligent was almost dislikeable in how much he overdescribed things, I never cared for C or even the Dutch really, and the neuroscience both seemed above my head and at times laughable (even their second iteration is miles ahead of AI theory now, and they were two men, one of which wasn't a scientist but a writer).

But then I put it down and did something I haven't done since I read
Jan 31, 2008 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: computer scientists with nougat and nuts
Shelves: singularity, 2007
SHORT VERSION: Galatea 2.2 is (in essence) Richard Powers' novelization of the ideas laid out in Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach . It's well-crafted (if a bit pretentious with the language at times) and (with no small irony) a bit recursive. It's also tragically humanist. I was half-blind with cross-eyed, hopeful denials of determinism toward the end there; or perhaps I'm thinking of naive humanitarianism? Helen's cynical abandonment (a cognitive suicide) was not anticipated but nei ...more
Neil George
Feb 24, 2016 Neil George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
This is a book by Richard Powers. It is about a man called Richard Powers who is an author. Both Richard Powers's have written the same books prior to this one. This leads me to an interesting conundrum: when (not if) I read the three books referred to in this book, how will I interpret them given that I have read the context given by the story here. Corollary: how would I have interpreted this book if I had read the other ones first (I'll never know that, of course).

It is these kinds of brain s
Frank Hestvik
This is a fairly dense book, ambitiously covering a lot of ground: the writing and reading of literature, relationships of love, humanism, neural network sci-fi. It is a semi-autobiographical (semi-fictionalized? the cup is half-what?) narrative about an author named Richard Powers who is tasked by a (seemingly fictional alter-ego) scientist to teach a vast neural network to read. Not just read as in simply parse words into some syntactic hierarchy and extrapolate semantic facts, but to read in ...more
Jan 30, 2009 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lincoln-park
In this novel Richard Powers uses language and literary references with a sharp pen, deftly weaving them into a moving and beautiful narrative. The novel describes the building of a literary thinking machine. It is a machine that gradually matures over the course of several iterations, but in the end it is a life of reading that fueled all of his loves.
The novel is pseudo-autobiographical: the narrator is named Richard Powers and there is discussion of the four novels he wrote before Galatea 2.
Oct 31, 2014 E rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
Powers writes a very smart story, full of neuroscience and computer science, but also poetic and touching. It's the story of the evolution of an artificial intelligence, that grows up by having an author - who lost the joy in writing - read the old masters to it. The conclusion might have been a too neatly wrapped up parable, but it makes a beautiful ending nevertheless.

And obviously - the author in the story being a version of Power himself - it makes you wonder which parts of the tale are aut
Richard Block
Jan 06, 2016 Richard Block rated it liked it

Richard Powers is one of my favourite writers, and I picked up this 1995 novel second hand. Like most of his stories, it brings science and humanity together. But this is an explicitly autobiographical work and despite brilliant writing, it seems to let both sides down.

Powers returns from Holland where he has been living with C. Despite his success as a novelist he is struggling as a human being. He takes refuge in his old university and gets caught up in a bet about whether an effort t
Brad Johnson
Jan 19, 2012 Brad Johnson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Thinkers who think about thought.
Recommended to Brad by: Required for Literature & Technology class
The story spent a lot of time with the technical aspects of what thought and sentience are all about. It's necessary information in order to understand the whole story properly, but it makes for a lot of difficult and dry reading. The author makes a valiant attempt at making it interesting, but the book requires a great deal of slogging through technical mud.

That being said, I still gave it 4 out of five stars due to a wonderful ending that made it worth trudging up that 300 page hill.
Jan 09, 2011 Jafar rated it it was amazing
My first book by Powers. This is how a novel would turn out if someone like Daniel Dennett had a wit and humor to match his intellect and could write a novel. If you’ve read Dennett or some other brainy scientist-philosopher and have been humbled by their frighteningly superior intellect and knowledge, you may get a similar feeling from reading this novel. I’m bowing to you, Mr. Powers.
Oct 11, 2014 Patricia rated it liked it
Though I had to make this a quick read for a class, and though this isn't a book I'd have picked out for a pleasure read, I found myself enjoying Powers book. Immediately into the read, I was grabbed by the nuances in language the author uses such as interesting oxymorons ("pained palliative"), certain people and places are given initials instead names, and other figurative language ("her frustrations hit me in the face like a paternity suit). Most striking is the relatable experience I share wi ...more
Carmen Daza Márquez
Feb 09, 2014 Carmen Daza Márquez rated it really liked it
Richard Powers ha sido todo un descubrimiento, antes de leer este libro ni siquiera había oído hablar de él. Y desde mi desconocimiento me esperaba una novela postmoderna experimental tipo Foster Wallace, en cambio me he encontrado con una narración que bajo el barniz metaliterario y ¿pseudo?biográfico presenta unas historias, unos personajes y unas situaciones altamente literarias, en el sentido más tradicional de la palabra. La historia va ganando ritmo e interés a medida que avanza la novela, ...more
Keith B
Jan 02, 2015 Keith B rated it really liked it
It's my first time to read Richard Powers & I had to keep a dictionary nearby. Abstruse words made methinks is this highbrow literature of 1995?? The author narrates (as Richard Powers) he returns to the US to take residence at Center for Study of Advanced Science & meets cognitive neurologist Philip Lentz. Dual plots: scientific quest/erotic quest. Question is "What is human intelligence?" Lentz: Brain is computer of synthetic neurons. R.P. to help teach the machine classic literature. ...more
William Leight
Jan 24, 2014 William Leight rated it it was amazing
"Galatea 2.2" is not a book for everybody. Science fiction fans may be put off by its English-departmental touches and its endless references to the English literary canon: readers for whom that description reminds them of, say, A.S. Byatt's "Possession" may find the long strings of neural network jargon impenetrable. But both groups should continue, because they will be rewarded. In the best post-modern tradition, this is a book about, in part, writing a book, ending with the narrator-author's ...more
Krok Zero
Sep 11, 2010 Krok Zero rated it really liked it
Shelves: spring-2010
The list on pp. 247-248 of this book is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.
John Chandler
Mar 06, 2014 John Chandler rated it it was amazing
This is one great book. Richard Powers has been accused of flat character development, but I don't think that is the case. The telltale for me was when I felt for the protagonist when C. broke up with him. The emotions, the aspirations, the desire are all there in those complex neurocomputational descriptions and the choice of literary excerpts used to train Helen. I could see how the character(s) would seemingly get lost in the density of it all - if you didn't care to read and appreciate the r ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
books with similar subject matter? 2 19 Jul 28, 2011 05:38PM  
  • Standing by Words
  • Drowning Towers
  • Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey (Modern Library)
  • Dostoevsky: The Years of Ordeal, 1850-1859
  • Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel
  • The Future of Success: Working and Living in the New Economy
  • Wheat that Springeth Green
  • The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn
  • The Terminal Beach
  • New Maps Of Hell: A Survey Of Science Fiction
  • The Secret City
  • This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities
  • The Great Outdoor Fight
  • Supercade: A Visual History Of The Videogame Age, 1971 1984
  • Easy Travel to Other Planets
  • Beauty
  • The Puttermesser Papers
  • William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism
Richard Powers is the author of eleven novels. He has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the Lannan Literary Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and the National Book Award.

Librarian note: There is more than one author with this name in the Goodreads database.
More about Richard Powers...

Share This Book

“Speech baffled my machine. Helen made all well-formed sentences. But they were hollow and stuffed--linguistic training bras. She sorted nouns from verbs, but, disembodied, she did not know the difference between thing and process, except as they functioned in clauses. Her predications were all shotgun weddings. Her ideas were as decorative as half-timber beams that bore no building load.

She balked at metaphor. I felt the annoyance of her weighted vectors as they readjusted themselves, trying to accommodate my latest caprice. You're hungry enough to eat a horse. A word from a friend ties your stomach in knots. Embarrassment shrinks you, amazement strikes you dead. Wasn't the miracle enough? Why do humans need to say everything in speech's stockhouse except what they mean?”
“I picked up an old microscope at a flea market in Verona. In the long evenings, in my imitation of life science, I set up in the courtyard and examined local specimens. Pointless pleasure, stripped of ends. The ancient contadino from across the road, long since convinced that we were mad, could not resist coming over for a look.

I showed him where to put his eye. I watched him, thinking, this is how we attach to existence. We look through awareness’s tube and see the swarm at the end of the scope, taking what we come upon there for the full field of sight itself.

The old man lifted his eye from the microscope lens, crying.

Signore, ho ottantotto anni e non ho mai Saputo prima che cosa ci fosse in una goccia d’acqua. I’m eighty-eight years old and I never knew what was in a droplet of water.”
More quotes…