Richard Powers Articles and Stories Bibliography

“The Best Place for It.” The New Yorker 63 (February 1, 1988): 28-35. Excerpt from Prisoner’s Dilemma.

“State and Vine: Vineland.” Yale Review 79.4 (Summer, 1990): 690-698. Review of Pynchon’s Vineland.

“Hard Ones.” Harper’s Magazine 283 (August, 1991): 37. Excerpt from Gold Bug Variations.

“We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” Grand Street 10.1 (Winter, 1991): 182. Excerpt from Gold Bug Variations.

“Een Amerikaan in Holland.” De Groene Amsterdammer (March 11, 1992):24-25.  Essay by Powers on the creative uses of cultural misunderstanding.  Reprinted in Joustra, Arendo (editor), Vreemde Ogen. Amsterdam: Prometheus, 1993.

“A Game We Couldn’t Lose.” New York Times. (February 18 1996): IV, 13:1. Op-Ed article on Gary Kasparov’s chess match against IBM’s Deep Blue computer. (865 words)

with Bruno Latour. “Two Writers Facing One Turing Test: A Dialog in Honor of HAL Between Richard Powers and Bruno Latour.” Common Knowledge, 7.1: 177-191. Text prepared for the Cyberfest, March, 14, 1997, Urbana-Champaign.

“Losing Our Souls, Bit by Bit.” New York Times. (July 15 1998): A, 19:2. Op-Ed article on the encroachment of online technologies into our personal lives. (1060 words)

“Life By Design: Too Many Breakthroughs.” New York Times. (November 19 1998): A, 32:5. Op-Ed piece on biotechnology. (780 words)

“Eyes Wide Open.8 New York Times Magazine (April 18, 1999): 80- 83. An assessment of the greatest ideas and accomplishments of the millennium.

“Escapes.” Esquire 131.7 (July, 1999): 86. Excerpt from Plowing the Dark.

[excerpt from Plowing the DarkConjunctions. 33 (Fall 1999).

“Being and Seeming: the Technology of Representation.” Context. 3 (2000).

“All That Is Solid Melts Into Air” [excerpt from Plowing the Dark]. Harper’s 300:1800 (May 2000): 20, 22-23.

“American Dreaming: The Limitless Absurdity of Our Belief In an Infinitely Transformable Future.” New York Times Magazine. (May 7 2000): 67. Powers comments on a survey indicating Americans think they can be whoever they want to be. (1671 words)

“Sein und Schein: Zur Technologie der Darstellung.” Schreibheft, Zeitschrift für Literatur. 56 (Mai 2001). Translation of “Being and Seeming: the Technology of Representation” (see above).

“The Simile.” New York Times Magazine 151:51885 (September 23, 2001): 21-22. Powers is one of several authors sharing personal reflections on the events of September 11, 2001. He reflects on the inadequacy of similes to covey the effect of the attacks.

“Ba-Da Bang.” New York Times Magazine. 151:51983 (December 30, 2001): 49. Powers remembers British astrophysicist and science fiction author Sir Fred Hoyle.

“Singing.” (excerpt from The Time of Our SingingConjunctions. 37 (Fall 2001): 12-18.

“Und was kommt dann? Je mehr die Medizin vermag, umso mehr gleicht sie der Erzählkunst: Beide sollen zeigen, was die Zukunft bringt.” Suddeutscher Zeitung. (August 10, 2002). A meditation on the parallels between storytelling and medicine, and on their ability to show the future. Translated into German by Joachim Kalka.

“From The Time of Our Singing.” Tin House 4.1 (Fall, 2002): 42-52.

Entry in Harmon, James, L, (editor), Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation, Simon and Schuster (2002): 77-8.

“Literary Devices.” Zoetrope 6.4 (Winter, 2002): 8-15. A piece on “self-telling” fiction in the digital age.  Reprinted in Lightman, Alan, et. al. (editor) Living With The Genie,Island Press (2003): 5-21.  Reprinted in Henderson, Bill, (editor), 2004 Pushcart Prize XXVIII: Best of the Small Presses (2003): 326-341.

“From the Files–John Barth: An Introduction.” The Paris Review. 45, no. 167, (2003): 292 (3 pages)

Im Labor der Nomaden: Neue us-amerikanische LiteraturVorwort [preface] by Richard Powers. Germany: Wehr, Norbert, 2003. ISBN: 3924071160.  Includes work by Ben Marcus, David Markson, and Curtis White. Edited by Guido Graf; translations by Marcus Ingendaay, Eike Schoenfeld, and Nikolaus Stingl.

“From Plowing the Dark” in Gamers: Writers, Artists, and Programmers on the Pleasures of Pixels, edited by Shanna Compton. Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press, 2004. Excerpt from Plowing the Dark.

“Improvisations.” PEN America, Volume 3, Issue 5 (2004): 15 (2 pages).  Excerpt from Galatea 2.2.

“Introduction.” Hughes, Brigid (editor), Paris Review Book of Planes, Trains, Elevators, and Waiting Rooms, Picador (2004): (ISBN: 0312433407). Reprinted in edited extract as “Real Time Bandits,” in The Guardian (UK) Review (August 14, 2004), p. 3

“Kincatenate.” Foer, Jonathan Safran, Nicole Krauss, and Dave Eggers (editors), The Future Dictionary of America. McSweeny’s (2004): (ISBN: 1-932416-20-X).

“They Come in a Steady Stream Now.”  A piece written by Powers for BBC radio, turned into an interactive digital work by Jessica Mullen for the web counterpart of the magazine Ninth Letter.  (December, 2004)

“I remember the thing homing in…” Short appreciation of Thomas Pynchon in a special edition of Bookforum Volume 12, Issue 2 (June-September, 2005) p. 40.

“Cranes.” Excerpt from novel in progress, in Black Clock number 3 (Spring, 2005). p 1.

“The Seventh Event.” Article in Granta 90: Country Life (Summer, 2005) p. 57.

“My Music.” in Gramophone (October 2005), p. 170.

“In den Docks.” Neue Rundschau (No. 2, 2005), p. 83-86. Translated into German by Manfred Allié.  Reprinted in Mein Klassiker: Autoren Erzählen vom Lesen, Fischer Verlag (Frankfurt am Main: 2008) p. 115-119. An essay on Thomas Mann.

Wat er niet meer is.” De Standaard der Letteren (November 25, 2005), p. 8-9. Cover story on memory, phantom pain, and a belated return to Belgium. Translated into Dutch by Geert Lernout.

“Meer der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten.” Profil 48:36 (November 28, 2005), p. 143-145. On Mozart’s discovery of Bach Translated into German by Manfred Allié and Gabrielle Kempf-Allié

An artificial being.” in Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (eds) Making things public: Atmospheres of Democracy, Cambridge (Massachusetts): MIT Press, pp. 614-619.

A Head for Music.” The New York Times. (Jan. 8, 2006): 4:14. Op-ed article on the efforts of researchers to gain insight into Mozart’s genius via scientific analysis of his putative skull. 898 words.

“A Brief Take on Genetic Screening.” The Believer. (March, 2006). p.

De taal van het leven: een ruwe schets.” Dietsche Warande & Belfort 06: 2 (April, 2006), p. 212-223.  An essay on writing science-based fiction.

“The Global Distributed Self-Mirroring Subterranean Neurological Soul-Sharing Picture Show.” Japanese Book News 48 (Summer 2006) p. 2-14. An essay on the fiction of Haruki Murakami. Reprinted in A Wild Haruki Chase, Japan, 2006 (ISBN 4-16-368470-0) In Japanese. Also reprinted in an English translation of the anthology, A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World, Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press / The Japan Foundation, 2008. (ISBN 978-1-933330-66-2) p. 38-55.

Bradshaw, Sara, et al. Nine Novels by Younger Americans. Foreword by Richard Powers. San Francisco: 826 Books, 2007.  Includes work by Sara Bradshaw, Rachel Barber, Daniel Cowen, Sarah Meira Rosenberg, Dylan Suher, Lucas Gonzalez, Julia Mayer, Carolyn Maughan, and Samantha Lipman. Publisher’s description: ‘This anthology collects nine exceptional novels that were written by high school students from New York City during the summer of 2005 in 826NYC’s Young Adult Writers’ Colony.”

“How to speak a book.”  New York Times Book Review (January 7, 2007).

Bachmann, Vera, ed. Das Lesen–ein Traum: Strahlende Geschichten fur Dunkle Nachte.Frankfurt: Fischer, 2007. (ISBN 3596510198) Includes stories by Powers, Audrey Niffenegger, Haruki Murakami, Roger Willemsen, Marisha Pessl, Steffi von Wolff among others.

“Making the Rounds.” in Intersections: Essays on Richard Powers. Dalkey Archive Press, 2008. For more information, see entry under Theses, Special Studies, and Books about Powers

“In den Docks” in Mein Klassiker: Autoren erzaehlen vom Lesen. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Verlag, 2008. pp. 115-119. (ISBN 978-3-596-90001-5). Powers contributes an essay to this anthology of authors writing about their own favorite classic writers, discussing, as his choice, Thomas Mann. In German.

“Modulation.” Conjunctions. 50 (Spring 2008). Short story read by Powers during his series of appearances in 2008, including San Francisco and Seattle. This issue of Conjunctions includes works by 50 contemporary writers, including, besides Powers, Joyce Carol Oates, Sandra Cisneros, Rick Moody, William Gass, Jonathan Carroll, and Robert Coover, among others. Also anthologized in the Pushcart Prize XXXIV and Best American Short Stories 2009 (see entries below).

“The Book of Me.” GQ. (November 2008): 220-225, 266, 271-272, 274-276. An article on Powers’s experience of having his genome sequenced. From the table of contents: “Last summer, Richard Powers became one of nine people on earth to have his entire genome sequenced. Are we ready for an era in which genes are as easy to measure as height and weight?” Available online at

Published as a separate monograph in German: Das Buch Ich #9: Eine Reportage.S. Fischer Verlag, 2010. 79 p. (ISBN: 9783100590275). Translated by Manfred Allié, and Gabriele Kempf-Allié. Cover.

[Entry] in Carolin Seeliger, Tobias Wenzel (eds) Was ich mich immer schon fragen wollte: 77 Schriftsteller im Selbstgespräch [What I always wanted to ask myself: 77 authors interview themselves], Germany: Benteli, 2008. (ISBN: 3716515310). Powers has an entry (“Was hält Richard Powers für böse?” [What does Richard Powers consider to be evil?]) in this collection, along with 76 other authors, including Isabel Allende, Paul Auster, William Boyd, DBC Pierre, Umberto Eco, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Gao Xingjian, Donna Leon, Frank McCourt, Chuck Palahniuk, Ingo Schulze, Zadie Smith, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

“A Brief Take on Genetic Screening.” in Read Hard: Five Years of Great Writing From Believer. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, 2009. (ISBN: 978-1934781395) Cover. Powers’s essay from the March 2006 Believer is included in this anthology along with work by Rick Moody, Jonathan Lethem on Nathanael West, William T. Vollmann on W. G. Sebald, Ben Ehrenreich on Brian Evenson, Paul La Farge on Dungeons & Dragons, and others.

“Schlage hier nach zu allem. Eine Erzählung.” Literaturen. 7/8 (July/August 2009):20-25. Story. Translated by Manfred Allié.

“Soaked.” Granta. 108 (Summer 2009). Story.

“Enquire Within Upon Everything.” Paris Review. 190 (Fall 2009). Story.

“1897, Memorial Day” in Greil Marcus, Werner Sollors A New Literary History of America. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Pres, 2009. pp. 434-440.(ISBN: 978-0674035942) Cover.. Essay on the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Monument in Boston, and on its evolving meaning through poetry and art since its creation by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

“Over the Limited.” Black Clock. 11. (Fall 2009). “In Richard Powers’ “Over the Limited,” freely adapted from his just published novel, a young African woman genetically predisposed to happiness stands at the nexus of a brilliant, narcissistic scientist and the discontented moderator of a TV news magazine.”

“Modulation.” in Alice Sebold, Heidi Pitlor (eds.) Best American Short Stories 2009. Mariner Books, 2009. (ISBN: 978-0618792252).

“Modulation.” in Bill Henderson (ed.) The Pushcart Prize XXXIV (2010 Edition). Pushcart Press, 2009. (ISBN: 978-1888889543).

“The Whiteness of the Noise.” (Introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition of White Noise) in Don DeLillo, White Noise, pp. ix-xviii. Penguin Books, 2009. (ISBN: 978-0143105985).

“Out of Body, Out of Mind.” The New York Times. December 26, 2009.

“Ich habe das Neugier-Gen.” Süddeutsche Zeitung, no. 298, Monday 28 December, 2009, p. 12. Translated by Manfred Allié and Gabriele Kempf-Allié.

“To the Measures Fall.” The New Yorker. (October 18, 2010): 72-77. Reprinted in Brooks, Geraldine (editor) The Best American Short Stories 2011, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011, pp. 262-275. (see entry below.)

“To the Measures Fall.” in Brooks, Geraldine (editor) The Best American Short Stories 2011, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011, pp. 262-275. (ISBN: 978-0547242088).

“What Is Artificial Intelligence?” The New York Times. February 6, 2011.

[Epilogue] to Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology in the Humanities and the Arts, edited by Thomas Bartscherer and Roderick Coover. University of Chicago Press, 2011.

“What Does Fiction Know?” The Design Observer. August 2, 2011. Powers discusses his work teaching a course on the relationship between fact and fiction in Berlin during the Spring of 2011.

“Dark Was the Night.” Playboy. December 2011, p. 76. Short story. “A retired aerospace engineer risks everything to go back in time.”

“Genie.” Byliner. November 2012, Short story. “On a tour of the bubbling fumaroles of Yellowstone park, Anca, a rising-star biologist, sneaks off to steal samples of an ancient bacterium.”




Richard Powers’s “The Overstory”

Pointers to some info about Richard Powers’s new novel, The Overstory:

“What a tree can do to transform the atmosphere, to transform the soil, is absolutely part of the story of humans trying to give to these huge, ancient, incredibly diverse and incredibly supple creatures, the same kind of sanctity that we reserve exclusively for ourselves,”  Powers interviewed by Lynn Neary on NPR. 

Here’s to Unsuicide: An Interview with Richard Powers in the Los Angeles Times.

Barbara Kingsolver reviews The Overstory in the New York Times Book Review.

San Francisco Chronicle review.






My life has taken a nice turn. I am back at the Benicia Public Library, where I started my professional librarian career back in 1990, this time as Director. It’s such a great library–good solid community support and very high usage, with a wonderful staff. I have been made to feel very welcome, and plan to settle in here for the remainder of my career. I arrived to find a handmade poster attached to my door in greeting.

Current musical focus

These days, I am having a great time playing music in a Grateful Dead tribute band here in Petaluma. We are calling ourselves Dead Again. 15542290_10155071741818287_5436100603566096165_n

Being inside the music in this way is literally a dream come true for me, as I have frequently dreamed my way into the band so many times over the years. All of us in the band have, in a sense, been practicing playing this music for decades, as we are all seasoned Deadheads.


I will keep people posted, if I can remember to do so here, about upcoming sbig-easy-groundhog-dayhows.

Next up, we’re playing on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 at the Big Easy in Petaluma. Free show, 7:30 to 10:30 pm, all ages welcome. The Big Easy is a wonderful nightclub located in downtown Petaluma, right on Helen Putnam Plaza. Good food is available, and good drinks as well. We welcome a guest vocalist, Jenna Mammina, who will sing with the band.


Public Intellectuals to Follow in These Times

Note added February 24, 2020: We are now several years into this disturbing era, and many of the voices I mentioned in this 2017 post are certainly proving to have been worthy and valuable voices of reason and fact-based opinion. 

To them I must add the excellent daily writings of Heather Cox Richardson, who brings a political-historical perspective that is extremely helpful. 

On my Facebook feed, I recently asked my network of friends to chime in with recommendations of today’s public intellectuals–writers and thinkers whose work they follow as trusted and insightful commentators and activists during the times we are living through–the era of Trumpism.

I’ll compile the list here for ease of use and for continuous updating.

I may decide at some point to create categories within this listing, so as to separate out those who are really reporters, or politicians, or others whose role is not quite that of the classic “public intellectual.”

Many thanks to all who contributed!

Madeleine Albright
Gloria Allred
Carol Anderson
Dean Baker
W. Kamau Bell
Charles M. Blow
David Brooks
Brené Brown
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Noam Chomsky
Stephen Colbert
Juan Cole
Gene Demby
Kevin Drumm
Barbara Ehrenreich
David Fahrenthold
James Fallows
Bob Garfield
Roxane Gay
Masha Gessen
Henry A. Giroux
Brooke Gladstone
Amy Goodman
Chris Hayes
Christopher Hedges
Bell Hooks
Haro Kondabalu
Nicholas Kristof
Paul Krugman
George Lakoff
Bill McKibben
Rachel Maddow
Jeff Madrick
Bill Moyers
William Perry
Dan Rather
Robert Reich
David Remnick
Heather Cox Richardson
Arundhati Roy
Jennifer Rubin
Bernie Sanders
Steve Silberman
Jay Smooth
Rebecca Solnit
Gloria Steinem
Joseph Stiglitz
Matt Taibbi
Krista Tippett
Rebecca Traister
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Elizabeth Warren
Naomi Wolf
Sheryl WuDunn

Just Read / Now Reading


museJust read: The Muse, by Jessie Burton; Amateurs, by Dylan Hicks.

Now reading: Speak, by Louisa Hall.

I’m into a run of good reading lately, after something of a dry spell. Dylan Hicks’s Amateurs was a delight from start to finish–amazing and razor-sharp prose. The Muse by Jessie Burton was a wonderful parallel-story historical puzzle novel, set alternately in 1960s London and 1930s Spain.

Ruminations on the Role of the Chorus in The Mikado

OK, I’ve been living with this work of light opera for a number of weeks now. Famously, actors are stereotypically known for asking, ”but what’s my motivation?” This is supposed to be an aid to carrying off their role in a convincing and emotionally connected way.

It’s hard for the person who sings an occasional line and dances an occasional step to really land emotionally in the part, or even, sometimes, to understand why we are singing the lines we’re singing.

But, as I said, I’ve been singing and thinking about the part for awhile now, and I’ve come to a disturbing conclusion: my role is that of a “good German,” one who goes along to get along, one who blithely endorses lies for his own safety and security, one who rejoices in the misfortunes and sorrow of others when it aligns with his own immediate self-interest.

Within the space a single song, for instance (the Finale of Act I), the chorus changes its allegiance at least three times: we begin in fear for our own lives; rejoice when a victim is found (Naki-Poo); accuse that victim of forswearing his bride-to-be, Katisha; tell his alternate bride (Yum-Yum) that she is sure to die for her seduction of Nanki-Poo; and then turn on Katisha, shouting her down when she tries to expose the truth of the situation—literally drowning her out; and, finally, rejoice in the impending, if doomed, marriage of Yum-Yum and Naki-Poo.

In another song, we cower and play toady to the Mikado himself when he happily sings and dances as he recounts his brutal plan to torture criminals in an appropriate manner suited to their “crimes.” We laugh along with him at the prospect of the grim fates that will befall minor criminals. Indeed, the entire premise of the play, that those who flirt should be condemned to die, seems perfectly reasonable to all of us.

One further example: we are complicit in the lie of Ko-Ko, Pitti-Sing, and Pooh-Bette when they construct their elaborate lie to the Mikado regarding the execution of Nanki-Poo, making us subject to the same fate they are threatened to share—execution for “compassing the death of the heir to the throne.”

The Mikado may be “light opera,” but its dark message is anything but. And the role of the chorus is a cautionary tale for all who live within the boundaries of any regime that relies on its citizens for complicit agreement with its policies and practices. We, the chorus in this play, are a pack of pampered cowards, enjoying our stay at this resort with no regard to actual virtue, nobility, dignity, or any of the other adjectives we incorporate into our songs. I’m not sure we convey that to our audience, but if they consider us at all, I think they would be forced to dislike us intensely.

(I’m sure these are not original thoughts, but they are my thoughts, having not read too extensively about G&S. Now I will go do some research to see if this has already been the subject of someone’s thesis or dissertation….)

Music-making as a middle aged amateur

I recently turned 57 years old. In some things, I feel the wisdom of age–in my work life, for instance. But in others, I feel like a perpetual beginner. Nowhere is this clearer than in my musical endeavors.

I’m lucky to have three groups of friends with whom I can regularly make music. My church choir, my church folk band, and the band I play in, Commonhouse.

None of us in Commonhouse has any illusions that we will make the big time. We are free of that kind of ambition. But we have strong ambition in other ways. We want to write and arrange strong pieces of music–songs that are compelling for their own sake. Little works of art.

And to that end, we keep meeting each Monday night to play for a couple of hours. We bring the songs we’ve written and work with the group to turn them into something of worth. We play in front of other people occasionally, nerve-wracking though that it.

And now, we’ve recorded some of those songs, and we’ve turned them into an extended-play CD of five original songs. If you’re interested, you can listen to them and possibly buy them online at

If you’re inclined, please have a listen!epcover

Submitting names and groups to the musicians database project

I’ve been getting some great response from my request for input for the Sonoma County Musicians Database I’m working on.

A couple of frequent questions–do I want ALL bands and musicians and musical groups? From way back? Yes, and yes.

Here’s a new way to submit info: A Google Drive form