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September 04, 2006


Dorian Speed

I just finished _Expiration Date_, which is the only Tim Powers book our library has in stock. I enjoyed it and was very impressed with the depth of his knowledge about the historical figures involved in the story (Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison). At the same time, I understand that it's supposed to be one of his weaker novels, so I am looking forward to reading another one.
Have to save up for a trip to your storefront!


My library is getting this one! Yee Haw. got to run down and put my name on the list, and check out some of his other books. I had never heard of him before, and am very interested. Sounds like his books will make good Christmas gifts too.

J.R. Stoodley


Jimmy put up a short story by Powers last spring called "Through and Through". It's right there in the Fiction section of this website if you want to read it first.

My understanding though is that most of his writings are not as explicitly Catholic. To bad.

John E

What does "explicitly Catholic" mean? Lord of the Rings wasn't explicitly Catholic, Christian, or even religious, but yet elements of sacrifice, sacrament, sin, mortality, etc are there nonetheless -- and I would say that it is those elements that are the real appeal to LOTR fans, whether or not they realize it.


Dorian Speed,

Trust me, Expiration Date is NOT one of Tim Powers's weaker novels!

As you are planning to read more of his work, let me suggest that you do not read Earthquake Weather until after you have read both Expiration Date and Last Call. It will make more sense that way.

Or you could skip ahead and read Declare, a novel which simply blew me away!

It's too soon for me to talk about Three Days to Never.

Dorian Speed

Really? I thought _The Anubis Gates_ was supposed to be far superior. Then again, I only have the Amazon reviews to go by.

Looking forward to reading more of his work.

J.R. Stoodley

John E.

What does "explicitly Catholic" mean? Lord of the Rings wasn't explicitly Catholic, Christian, or even religious, but yet elements of sacrifice, sacrament, sin, mortality, etc are there nonetheless -- and I would say that it is those elements that are the real appeal to LOTR fans, whether or not they realize it

Quite. You may be addressing the biggest fan of The Lord of the Rings in the world. OK probebly not but my point is that a book does not need to be "explicitly" Catholic to be good. It's just that in the case of Powers what I liked about "Through and Through" was the messiage about the Sacrament of Reconsiliation and the state of the Church much more than the style and esoteric philisophical speculations.

If others see it differently go ahead. Much may be a mere matter of taste.

Joy Schoenberger

Sounds good! I put it on reserve at my library.

Dorian Speed

J.R. Stoodley, I liked "Through and Through" for the same reasons.

But it was also fun to pick up on hints of the author's Catholicism in _Expiration Date_ (like a character named Neal Obstat).


Without a doubt, Declare is Tim Powers's absolute masterpiece-- and his most Catholic, too. Close second, IMHO, would be Last Call (it's first in a trilogy) and then Anubis Gates. But they're all (15 or more? novels plus many short stories) pretty much great.

This latest one, Three Days to Never is also brilliant, and a bit different for Powers, in that it is shorter and has a pretty linear plot line. I notice it is also divided into "acts" which makes me think this would be the one probably most adaptable to the Big Screen. I hope to see it happen, anyway. It is a fun and crazy read, a movie would be even more fun!

And it comes across as very pro-life, in many directions, as well. I highly recommend it, too!

John E

J.R. Stoodley,
My apologies, I should've read the short story you mentioned first. I see what you mean by "explicitly Catholic". Sometimes it's nice to see a story that has Catholic elements upfront and not just hidden in allegory.

And please let us not forget The Drawing of the Dark, a truly awesome novel especially fun for history buffs.

Gene Branaman

"Lord of the Rings wasn't explicitly Catholic, Christian, or even religious . . ."

I had a conversation with a young Evangelical woman in the last year about the nature of Christian fiction, music, etc. She brought up San Diego Christian rock band Switchfoot's latest CD & said that they'd sold out because they weren't singing songs directly about Jesus any more. But I found their faith to be more fully integrated into the subjects they're writing about - they were now seeing everything from a Christian perspective & their writing had more depth & resonance. That, to me, is what it means for something to be *explicitly* Catholic/Christian.

Yes, I know that *explicit* means "unambiguous". I'm probably abusing the term. But, frankly, I find LOTR unambiguous in its Catholicity. Catholics & non-Catholics alike may miss the clues but, as they are there & were intended by Tolkien (specifically so during the revision process, per the good professor himself), their power still resonates. (Some can read CS Lewis' Narnia books & miss their Christian aspects.)

I think this is why the work of writers like Flanner O'Connor & Mr Powers, among a number of others, resonate so deeply with me. There's a depth of foundation that grounds the work in a reality that's at once instantly recognizable for the reader & very mysterious (as in religious mystery).

Can't wait to read this new one! Thanks for the review, Jimmy. And I can't wait for the interview with Mr Powers!

Dave Mueller

Isn't Gene Wolfe supposed to be a good SF/F Catholic writer as well? Does anyone know anything about him?

Dale Price

Declare is absolutely superb--run, do not walk, to the bookstore. Dinner at Deviant's Palace is also very good (more overtly sci-fi).

I really need to get more of his books, it appears.

Randolph Carter

As far as I know Gene Wolfe is indeed an orthodox Catholic, as well as an avid reader of G.K. Chesterton. A good place to gain some insight into Mr.Wolfe's faith might be this interview:


I am currently in the middle of reading Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, and I must say it is amazing. I didn't know that anything this literary could still get published nowadays. Also, there does seem to be some Christian symbolism woven into the tale, what with the whole Concilliator thing and whatnot.

Jamie Beu

I just borrowed Declare from the library, after seeing a previous post of Jimmy's. I have not started reading it yet, as I was still in the middle of reading http://www.amazon.com/Prayers-Assassin-Novel-Robert-Ferrigno/dp/141650768X/sr=8-2/qid=1157552832/ref=pd_bbs_2/104-7679924-8203162?ie=UTF8&s=books&tag=orthorighttea-20>Prayers for the Assassin.

I'm glad to hear the overwhelmingly positive reviews of Declare, but I'm afraid of high expectations because of the hype.

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