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Plowing the Dark by Richard Powers
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Plowing the Dark (original 2000; edition 2002)

by Richard Powers

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566727,689 (3.72)37
In a laboratory in the US, researchers race to complete the Cavern, a blank white room that can become a jungle, a painting, or even a cathedral. In a city in the Middle East, an American is held hostage, chained to a radiator in an empty white room. What links two such remote places?
Member:dennymeta
Title:Plowing the Dark
Authors:Richard Powers
Info:Vintage (2002), Paperback, 415 pages
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Plowing the Dark by Richard Powers (2000)

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English (6)  French (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The two story lines kept me reading - how can these stories possibly converge? I don't think I can even spoil the story. It's a miracle!

I guess the story is maybe about the transformative power of art? ( )
  kukulaj | Nov 4, 2019 |
Powers is an amazing writer, even if in the end he can't quite pull it off. The threads here are a team of virtual reality programmers working in Seattle, an American held hostage in Lebanon (the book is set in the late 80s), and a former friend of the researches battling MS. Each of the threads are creating their own worlds out of necessity or play, and while they do come together in the end it is not altogether convincing. ( )
  kcshankd | Jan 3, 2014 |
My comments here will be mostly questions, as that is what this book left me with. Questions like: why did Powers choose a period ten years ago to focus on? Why focus on technology ten years old? If there was a group developing VR to the degree shown in this book, where is it now (or is that the Point, that the military en-Gulfed it?) I kept having to remind myself that the story was happening in 1990, not 2000, despite the level of sophistication of the Cavern. Was that technology really around back then? I tried very hard but failed to see the connection between the hostage story and the VR story. Best I could come up with was the Nature of Perception, how our view of the world and reality is affected by circumstances. Perhaps my perception of this book is colored by the science fiction I have read, and my work as an artist and computer programmer. I wanted this book to be a different one. I wanted it to be Galatea meets VR. I wanted it to be about the current day, and current technology, and what it means to us now and to our future. There must have been some point to writing an "historical" novel about a time period so very recent, but I did not see it. I enjoyed the book quite a bit. I appreciated the references to art history mixed in with computer science. But I found myself wondering just how many people happen to have a background in both? If he had been making off-hand remarks about some other arcane areas I'd have been pretty bored, I think. Lost, at least. My favorite by Powers is still Goldbug. There was a book where it made sense to go back in (fairly) recent time, and to mix music with computer science. The characters were more alive in Goldbug. I found it hard to relate or empathize with those in Plowing the Dark. I, too, have turned my back on the world of Fine Art, and endevor to find a life with computers, but I couldn't quite figure out Klarpol's problem. I found a recent interview with Powers, but these questions remain unsolved. ( )
  BobNolin | Mar 23, 2008 |
I found it to be full of factual errors, cliché and half-undertood buzzwords.

Read the full review here ( )
  fitzlade | Nov 5, 2006 |
A preposterous idea for a novel (a double plot involving Middle Eastern hostage-taking and Silicon Valley virtual reality) is somehow carried off here by Powers. More than anything, this fills me with nostalgia for the early 1990s, when Lawnmower Man was in the theaters. Not as good as Galatea 2.2, but, as always, an interesting premise taken very far by a powerful mind. ( )
  joshrothman | Mar 10, 2006 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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German translation of Plowing the Dark.
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