Saturday, May 9, 2009

10 Books A Day: #20

The Anubis Gates...Tim Powers...Ace

Last Call...Tim Powers...Avon

Last Call...Tim Powers...William Morrow & Company, Inc.

Expiration Date...Tim Powers...Tor

Earthquake Weather...Tim Powers...Tor

On Stranger Tides...Tim Powers...Subterranean Press

The Stress Of Her Regard...Tim Powers...Ace

Declare...Tim Powers...William Morrow & Company, Inc.

Strange Itineraries...Tim Powers...Tachyon Publications

Three Days To Never...Tim Powers...William Morrow & Company, Inc.

Tim Powers, like James P. Blaylock, was mentored by Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? was dedicated to him), and he also lives, works and teaches in California. Just last year I went back and tried to get as many hardback copies of his works as I could, which is why there are two editions of Last Call here. I did this with both Blaylock and Powers because I decided I wanted their works in the most permanent and durable form I could get.

Powers' stories have been described as "secret histories," in which real life events and personages appear, but are given different, strange, "occult" significance. Thus Einstein invents a time machine, Lord Byron is plagued by vampires, and Thomas Edison's ghost is craved by spirit-huffers who wish to ingest him for a rush. The main protagonists in Powers' books, however, are not the famous people. Powers' heroes are often unknown to history, but no less important for that. A typical Powers hero makes an innocent mistake (though often through bull-headedness or carelessness) which lands him in terrible consequences. He gains secret knowledge he doesn't want to know, suffers wrenching physical torment, and loses or is separated from those he loves. Often it is only through his dedication to some skill or craft (electrical engineering, poker playing, spycraft, obstetrics) that he is able to survive and save the day. But along the way he gains the love and friendship of those with whom he shares the ordeal; in many stories he gains the love of his life.

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