49 pages 1 hour read

Richard Powers


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Part 2, Pages 47-97Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2, Pages 47-60 Summary

Theo describes the imaginary planet of Pelagos, whose deep oceans give birth to a completely strange type of life. He discusses the planet with Robin, who is amazed by the idea but regrets that humanity might never hear from such a planet and its inhabitants.

After listening to Theo’s description of Pelagos, Robin falls asleep. Just as Theo turns off the light and starts to slip out of the room, Robin sits bolt upright and screams. They’ve forgotten to say Alyssa’s prayer. After they say it together, Theo spends the next two hours trying to calm Robin enough that he can return to sleep.

Theo thinks about the similarities between astronomy and childhood. The curiosity and the constant deluge of new, radical information fills him with a sense of wonder. He has simulated thousands of worlds in a quest to find the kind of atmospheres and circumstances that might lead to extraterrestrial life. He tries to imagine life that bears no resemblance to life on Earth, freeing his imagination from bias and thinking like an unencumbered child. Theo creates these wildly imaginative profiles ahead of the launch of a space telescope that will search distant galaxies for anything that might seem like life.