Richard Powers was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1957. His father was the principal in a local school. When he was eleven, the family moved to Bangkok (paralleling Richard Kraft in Operation Wandering Soul). After graduating from high school in the United States, he started studying physics at the University of Illinois but switched to English literature, where he took an M. A. He worked as a computer programmer in Boston till he saw August Sander‘s photo of three farmers on the way to a dance, which inspired him to write Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance. He has since written a series of very well-received novels, generally with a scientific or technological background which may not be strong on plot but which brilliantly explore the zeitgeist of the past hundred years.