Peculiar book, but that’s what Powers writes. He’s never been better than The Gold Bug and this book is no exception. Powers likes to deal with a kind of sci-fi which is almost in the future – like a half-step – in fact, it could almost be happening tomorrow. This is like and unlike William Gibson who writes sci-fi about the now – mostly great stuff.
Powers is creative literarily as well as plot-wise, he uses a first person who is writing the story to shadow the story, shade it, color it in. This narrator/writer is creating the story as we watch – or at least that’s what I think is happening. I never have liked this sort of thing – it seems so intrusive.
Anyway, the story concerns a young Berber woman, an immigrant from Algeria, called Thassadit Amzwar, who seems to be congenitally happy. Her professor a young man named Russell Stone is concerned about her – she seems too etherial, too happy. He consults a psychologist and the romp (or whatever it is) begins. What makes Thassadit so happy ALL the time? Is she mad? She is certainly glowingly, lovingly attractive. But then one of her fellow students tries to rape her and turns himself in although she’s not going to press charges and he didn’t actually complete the attempt. The police and the news get ahold of this unusual person. Does she have some gene? Is there some way we can all be happy all the time?