Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tim Powers - The Anubis Gate / Last Call / Expiration Date / Earthquake Weather


In 1995 book clubs still existed.

If, at the time, you were a member of one of those 'bookclubs' (mail order subscriptions like 'Boek & Plaat' or 'ECI')  you would have to choose something from their (too thin) quarterly catalogue. So in July 1995 I ordered The Last Card. Which takes me bach to The Anubis Gates...

The Anubis Gates

Many people were very positive about The Anubis Gates, but I didn't like it that much. It was okay, but left me a little... cold. It's a mystical time travel story with some Egyptian magicians and gods (?) thrown in. It was well reviewed, but just wouldn't work for me. And I never felt the need to re-read it.

Would it be likely I would pick up another Tim Powers' novel? Nah.

Still, a quarter of a century ago (yeah, it's that long) I did have a 'book club' subscription, and I had to pick some book from their catalogue, or they would send me their pick. Which typically wouldn't be matching my (lack of) taste. But there wasn't anything else in there, so in spite of The Anubis Gates I decided to give The Last Card a chance...

The Last Card

... and found out I loved it. Bizarre characters, anti-heroes, folklore and legends mixed with modern day horror and world-wise violence, well paced and easily readable. Yummie. Never expected losing a card game could be the same as losing your soul... literally.

The Last Card is good.

Someone described Powers' writing style as 'anti Occam's Razor' which is pretty apt. Powers seems to do extensive research on setting, period and background, and then make up endless complicated theories about what happened just outside the purview of the historian. And then he shares it with the reader.
He did that for The Anubis Gates, Last Call, as well as Expiration Date.

Expiration Date
Dutch translations are often printed in a larger font, on larger and thicker pages in fat books with poorly glued spines. Thus making dutch books friggin' expensive and quite vulnerable. They 'look' a lot bigger, but contain less. Foam bricks.

Before going abroad again (I was working abroad at the time) I picked up a US print of Expiration Date. A lot smaller on the outside (denser print etcetera), not on the inside. That's always a pro.

Unfortunately lots of words... but without too much happening I'd almost suspect Powers was payed per word. Too ethereal for my taste. (On the other hand: I do have a rather 'cheap' 'action orientated' 'pseudo ethereal' taste in movies and books... ☺)

Expiration Date is an interesting book with some interesting ideas, but once the ideas run out it feels somewhat empty.

Earthquake Weather
Thanks to Amazon, ebooks, ereaders and the Internet it is now possible to buy an affordable book, or uberhaupt find that book.

Or even know about that book.

I never knew Tim Powers wrote another book in the same universe, combining the cast of Expiration Date and Last Call. In hindsight, both books 'tasted' somewhat similar, taking place in the same universe, so why not?

So now, 25 odd years later, I just decided to buy the ebook of Earthquake Weather on Amazon. Now this forces me to re-read the first two books, and then I'll update or follow up to this post...

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