Tim Powers

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American fantasy author.

His works are mostly notable for being `secret histories' - he uses actual, documented historical events, but shows another view of them, in which magic is a major moving force in the motivations and actions of the characters.

Novels:

  • `Epitaph in Rust'
  • `The Skies Discrowned', also published as `Forsake The Sky'
  • `The Drawing of the Dark' - The siege of Vienna was actually a struggle between Muslim and Christian magicians over the spiritual heart of the West, which happens to be a small inn and brewery in Vienna. The 'dark' of the title is a beer that has been brewing for centuries, which the Fisher King will eventually drink.
  • `The Anubis Gates' - Probably Powers' most popular book, and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. An Egyptian magician, realising that magic is gradually becoming ineffective (the spread of Christianity somehow having a magic-suppressing effect) , calls on Anubis in an attempt to stop this process: the attempt fails disastrously but something happens. The story moves to the present day, where a millionaire is organising an expedition into the past: his researchers have discovered `gates' opening in predictable times and places, where time travel is possible (the result of the failed magical ceremony centuries earlier). The hero, an expert on an obscure 19th century poet, William Ashbless is one of those who wind up in early 19th century London. The plot is far too complicated to summarise here, featuring Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, time travel paradoxes and a further jump to a frozen 17th century London. One thing is evident, Powers is having a lot of fun with this novel, and the reader generally does too...
  • `Dinner at Deviants Palace' - unusually for Powers, this is set in the future, in a postatomic America in which an alien psychic vampire is slowly taking over.
  • `On Stranger Tides' moves to the 17th century Caribbean; with pirates (many of them real historical characters), Voodoo, zombies, Ponce de Leon, and a strangely quantum-mechanical Fountain of Youth.
  • `Last Call' - a professional Poker player finds out that he lost far more than he won in a game played with Tarot cards twenty years ago.
  • `Expiration Date' - a boy possessed by the spirit of Thomas Edison is hunted through Los Angeles by people wanting to consume the ghost he carries.
  • `Earthquake Weather' - sequel to both `Last Call' and `Expiration Date', involving the characters of both, two fugitives from a psychiatric hospital, the magical nature of multiple personality disorder, and the secret history of wine production in California.

Powers and James Blaylock invented the poet William Ashbless.