BOOKS: LIVE WIRES

AN ANCIENT MYTH IS GIVEN A CYBER-UPDATE IN GALATEA 2.2

Novelists occasionally tease readers, creditors, old lovers and future biographers by using their own name for invented characters. Generally such characters are charming rogues. This leads to bootless speculation along the lines of "Lordy, is he really that charming?" and "My word, did he really do all that crazy stuff?" A good rule is to ignore the confessional tease and assume that if it's called a novel on the title page, it's fiction.

This rule must be applied firmly in the case of Richard Powers' brilliantly imaginative new novel, Galatea 2.2 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 329 pages; $23), a book that...

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