Archive for the ‘Tim Powers’ Category
Thanks to the amazing organization skills of Rinn over at Rinn Reads, we’re right in the heart of Science Fiction Month. And I’ve noticed something. Something wonderful: lots of folks who are participating in SciFi Month are completely new to science fiction.
This is fantastic! That so many people who have never picked up a science fiction book are interested in giving some weird stuff a try, it warms my heart. Getting into science fiction isn’t always easy. Strange names, alien planets, technobabble, far future technologies. . . it can be a bit much. Luckily, there are plenty (countless, actually) of “gate way” books, books that take place right now, or maybe a few years in the future, or even a few years in past. Books that don’t leave the solar system, maybe don’t even leave the Earth. You don’t need to be fluent in technobabble or have a degree in astronomy to enjoy these. You just need to turn the first page. . .
to help you on your journey into scifi, I’ve linked the titles to my reviews. If you have any suggestions for other gateway books, let everyone know in the comments!
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett – After her parent’s death, Mona inherits her Mom’s old house in a sleepy town in the southwest. It’s one of those old fashioned towns, where everyone knows everyone else, and the oldsters remember all the family secrets. there are family secrets, and then there are Family Secrets. How will Mona react when she learns her own?
In the Garden of Iden, by Kage Baker. I love Kage Baker, it’s as simple as that. This novel is the first of her Company Series. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, you won’t feel sucked into reading another long series. Mendoza is an operative with a company that collects historical artifacts, and they’ve turned her into an immortal cyborg, of sorts. She spies on people, but can’t tell anyone who or what she is. Really sucks, when she falls in love with someone on her first mission. This book is as heartbreaking as it is funny. By the way, I’ve got a review of some Kage Baker Company short stories that’ll be posting in a few days.
published in 2007
where I got it: gift from a friend (and she got it autographed! I have the best blogger buddies ever!)
Tim Powers is usually described as a writer of literary thrillers, but I prefer to call what he writes gateways to speculative fiction. He starts with what really happened, and fills in the blanks, takes you a wild ride, and still manages to prove that truth is stranger than fiction. Far more fascinating than alternate history, this is secret history.
Three Days to Never was written in 2006, but it takes place in 1987, and it was refreshing to experience a thriller set in a time where cellphones and the internet weren’t ubiquitous. The story starts innocently enough when Frank Marrity gets a weird phone call from his grandmother Lisa, she says she’s going to burn her backyard shed down. By the time he gets to her house, he learns that she passed away at a national park located hours away. Frank’s daughter Daphne makes jokes about there being gold buried under Grammar’s shed. More unexpected than finding gold buried under the shed, they find a bundle of letters between Lisa and her father, and a VHS tape of PeeWee’s Big Adventure. First things first, Frank needs to meet with his sister Moira and arrange their grandmother’s funeral.
Frank and his sister were raised by their grandmother Lisa, who everyone calls Grammar, after their father left the family and their mother died in a car crash. Frank has always hated his absent father and blamed him for causing his mother’s possible suicide. He’s always wondered how Grammar could be so cavalier about her own son abandoning his family.
It’s that wonderful time of the year again! When we bake cookies and get cards in the mail and forget that we need extra time to warm up our cars in these cold, cold mornings.
It’s also time to talk about the best books we’ve read this year. I confess, I cheated a little on my list, I didn’t limit myself to books that came out in 2012, I’ve even got a reread on the list. Mostly space opera, a little fantasy and time travel, even a YA book made the list! In no particular order, here are my top books that I read this year, with review excerpts and links to the review should you feel so inclined to learn more about the titles that rocked my world this past year.
Redhead’s Best of 2012
Faith, by John Love (2012) – I read this all the way back in February, I knew right then it would make my best of the year list. An amazing debut from author John Love, Faith is a dark and tense stand alone science fiction novel. The pages drip with a danger and fear that doesn’t quickly dissipate after you’ve put the book down. This isn’t a book for everyone (that’s a polite way of saying it has lots of violence, amorality and swear words), but for those of us that like this sort of thing, Faith is quite the hidden gem.
Silently and Very Fast, by Catherynne M. Valente (2012) – has anyone been putting out short stories, novellas and full length novels as fast as Valente? she’s the hardest working writer I know, and this year she got to walk away with Hugo for Best FanCast to show for it. it’s no secret that Valente is one of my favorite authors, and the Hugo nominated Silently and Very Fast is certainly her most science fictional piece. With her signature flair for poetic metaphor and lyrical storytelling, this novella follows the life of Elefsis, a house AI who was told fairytales by the human children in the house. To Elefsis, life is a fairytale, and it should have a happy ending.
(full review here)
Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht (2012) – I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy, but when I do it’s a treat for it to be a beautifully written as this series (the 2nd book And Blue Skies from Pain came out later in 2012). Northern Ireland, the 1970s, Liam Kelly would prefer to live a normal life. He’s not interested in getting arrested or learning secrets about his heritage. But all of those things are very interested in him, and in destroying everything in his life that he cares about. Leicht spoiled me for urban fantasy. I am eagerly awaiting future novels in this series.
(full review here)
published in 1983
where I got it: that one bookshelf where my favorite books are.
The short version of this review is that The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers is utterly brilliant and amazing. Aren’t sure if time travel books are your thing? Doesn’t matter, this book transcends. Aren’t sure if Tim Powers is for you? He transcends all as well, and you can learn more about him in my Why You Should be Reading Tim Powers article.
here’s the long version:
Brendan Doyle lives a remarkably boring life. An expert in the lives of the romantic poets, Doyle tracks down obscure manuscripts and gets papers published in even more obscure literary magazines. When he flies to London to meet with wealthy yet eccentric J. Cochran Darrow, Doyle’s in it for the money. this crazy old guy wants to pay Doyle a million dollars to give an hour lecture about Samuel Taylor Coleridge to a dinner party? No problem. that money will go a long way towards Doyle’s research of an obscure poet who was in London around the same time as Coleridge, William Ashbless.
Except it’s not just any dinner party, and this isn’t just any old rich guy. J. Cochran Darrow has discovered how to jump through time. Brendan will give his lecture, answer a few questions, and then entire group, Darrow, Brendan, and the guests, will travel through time to 1810 see Coleridge himself. Everything must be timing perfectly, as these breaks in the river of time are sometimes only open for a few hours.
The only predictable scene happens when the time travel jump is successful, everything is going swimmingly, and suddenly Doyle gets separated from the group and is left behind in 1810. Abandoned, yet hopeful, Doyle has a plan. He knows the exact time and date that Ashbless wrote a famous poem at a tavern in London. If Doyle can survive for a week, he can approach Ashbless and hopefully work with the man. Should Doyle ever get back to modern day London, he’d be able to write the ultimate Ashbless biography.
But Darrow isn’t the only person jumping through time. A few someone elses, many hundreds of years ago, used arcane magic to open these gates in time. These ancient magicians have forsaken their connection with the earth, and wear heels, platform clogs, and even spring heeled shoes to keep their flesh as far from the Earth as possible. Even J. Cochran Darrow has his own ulterior motives.
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The recently announced Locus Awards are awarded every year by a readers poll done by Locus Magazine. These have been going since 1971, and are often an influencial precursor to the Hugo awards, which will be awarded later this summer.
It’s only these last couple years that I’ve been blogging that I’ve paid much attention to awards. Honestly, for the most part, a list of award nominees more often than not elicits a mostly “eh” response from me. Maybe I’ve heard of the authors, maybe I haven’t, and there’s a decent chance I haven’t even read any of the books or short stories that are up for an award.
Good thing I have a scifi/fantasy blog, and have pretty much been reading nothing but scifi and fantasy for the last little while! For the first time, ever, I’ve actually read a small chunk of these. Ok, maybe not a respectable amount, but way more than in previous years. For the first time, ever, my mind is responding with a “sweet! I’ve read that!” or at least a “I’ve heard of that, and I really want to read it!” instead of “meh”.
Here are this years Locus Award winners (bolded) and nominees. If I reviewed the piece, I’ve linked to it. A few questions for you to contemplate as you peruse the list: how many of these author, works, editors, authors and publishers have you heard of? How many of them have you read, or are interested in reading?
The 2012 Locus Awards, as announced in Seattle Washington, June 15-17th 2012:
Science Fiction Novel
Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
11/22/63, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton as 11.22.63)
Rule 34, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge (Tor)
A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)
Snuff, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss (DAW; Gollancz)
Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente (Tor)
Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday)
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (Crown; Century)
God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade)
Soft Apocalypse, Will McIntosh (Night Shade)
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime)
Published in 2011 by Tachyon Publications
where I got it: purchased new
why I read it: if Tim Powers wrote it, I want to read it.
Tim Powers has long been a favorite speculative fiction writer of mine. I describe him as a spec fic writer and not a “SF” writer because most of his books take place in the past. For decades, he’s been writing alternate history with a paranormal twist. Ghosts, voodoo, body switching, trapped souls, ancient demons, and mythological creatures abound. He’s writing what might have happened, what could have happened, what no one will ever tell you happened because no one would ever believe it. But if it comes from Powers, I’m happy to believe every word.
I’ve read a handful of his novels over the years, my long time favorites being Last Call, The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides. I’m sure I knew he’d written some short fiction, but I’d never come across any of it. When I saw a copy of his collection of short works The Bible Repairman, it was a no brainer to buy it. With 6 short stories (two of them really novellas) on the nature of souls and ghosts and things man perhaps was not meant to know, and a little blurb closing out each where he talks about how the story came into being, The Bible Repairman and other stories is a must have for any Powers fan.
As usual, it’s been a wonderfully book-y couple of weeks. Thanks to Quercus books and PYR I got some much anticipated ARCs:
I feel privileged to have gotten an ARC of Mazarkis Williams’ The Emperor’s Knife, it looks incredible. Epic fantasy, but not as we know it (or at least, not exactly). Tattoos that take over your mind as they take over your body, intricate games, battles of the mind. . . this baby just got jumped to the top of the TBR list. 2011 has been a year of incredible epic fantasy for me, and so much of what I’ve read has been the first or second book in a series, with the next book expected sometime in 2012/2013. I love that every year it just gets better and better!!
Mike Resnick’s The Doctor and the Kid is the sequel to last year’s The Buntline Special. A wild wild west full of steampunk inventions and Native American magic, it’s not the deepest thing you’ll ever read, but it was a helluva lot of fun. Westerns typically haven’t been my thing, but Resnick’s Doc Holliday rocked my world.
My fave local family owned bookstore wooed me with “we got in a whole ton of classic SF, come on by and take a look”. Good thing I left my debit card at home, otherwise I would have bought a car payment’s worth of classic SF. I managed to walk outta there with just these two: Read the rest of this entry »
Once upon a time I posted this review here.
John Chandagnac had a plan, and it was a good one. Go to Jamaica, approach his corrupt uncle, and get his inhertence back. Pretty easy, right? But this is a Tim Powers novel – nothing works out the way you plan.
A few days away from docking in Jamaica, John finally gets up the nerve to approach Beth Hurwood, an attractive young woman travelling with her father and mysterious doctor. Before their relationship can go any further, and before they reach Jamaica, the ship is beset by pirates. When it become obvious Beth’s father is in league with the pirates, John lets himself be recruited as an opportunity to live another few days, and maybe get Beth to safety. The fact that he can cook, fence, and act further ingratiates him to the pirate crew, led by Captain Davies, who answers to Blackbeard himself. John Chandagnac becomes Jack Shandy, starts learning voodoo magic, and begins to put together the pieces of what Mr. Hurwood and Blackbeard are planning.
Here is where On Stranger Tides gets wonderfully bizarre. Read the rest of this entry »