In “Genie,” a short story of epic proportions, Powers goes sci-fi: he turns a failing relationship between a randy scientist and a staid statistician into a quest—not only for love and connection but for a way to connect to intelligent life in the universe.
Anca is an ambitious cellular biologist determined to be the first to defuse the microbial time bombs inside ever more fatal viruses. Warren works in numbers and codes. He follows the rules and likes it that way. When Anca uses the opportunity of a romantic camping trip to swipe samples of ancient bacteria from one of Yellowstone National Park’s fumaroles—bubbling pools filled with life more diverse than in a rainforest—Warren sees the writing on the wall: Anca will never behave. They break up, until Anca makes a discovery that is just too mind-blowing to handle alone. Could she have found proof of intelligent design, the signature of the creator himself? Or is it a message left by an unknown—and unearthly—life form?
The race that Anca and Warren embark on together will change everything they have ever believed or felt—about life, each other, and the mysteries of the cosmos.