Thursday, September 13, 2007

Two Book Reviews In One Week? The Human Mind Can't Work At Such Speeds!

Three Days to Never by Tim Powers

English Lit professor Frank Marrity and his precocious daughter Daphne find themselves at the center of supernatural espionage after the death of Frank's grandmother Lieserl -- who Daphne has always suspected of being a witch --under strange circumstances during the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 leads two clandestine organizations to their doorstep in search of a powerful metaphysical device somehow connected to both Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin. On one side is a occult-focused division of the Mossad, led by the kosher Lepidopt who is cursed with premonitions regarding his own mortality; on the other, the mysterious Vespers, whose main field agent is the blind remote viewer Charlotte Sinclair who is only able to see out of the eyes of others. Connected by a psychic link which has grown incredibly strong following the Convergence, Frank and Daphne must piece together the truth of Lieserl's past while avoiding the murderous Vespers and a strange Shakespeare-quoting apparition referred to in Lieserl's correspondence as "Caliban."

You know, if I ever get around to posting a "Top 10 Authors" list, Tim Powers is going to be right at the top. I love the way he takes real people and historical events and merges them with the fantastic. In On Stranger Tides it was Blackbeard meets voodoo; in Declare it was notorious spy Kim Philby interacting with djinns; in The Stress of Her Regard it was Romantic poets Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley being inspired by vampiric lamias; and here we have Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin monkeying around with the space-time continuum. Powers excels in taking historical tidbits (Einstein's hair turning white prematurely, Chaplin's lost film, Einstein and Chaplin attending a seance together) and finding a way to turn them into one huge supernatural conspiracy theory. Half the fun of reading a Powers book is seeing how his extrapolations play out. While Three Days to Never may not be my favorite of what some refer to as his "secret history" novels, it's still an entertaining and engaging novel.


Flunky lover said...

That sounds pretty interesting. Your review reminded me of Diana Wynn Jones. They may have a similar writing style or perhaps they both just have great imaginations. Have you read any of her books?