I think karma and/or poetic justice has just slapped me upside the head. I don’t think I’ve blogged about Tim Powers before, although there may be a review somewhere on my old Web site about one or two of his books, but the thing that strikes me every time is how little he actually explains what’s going on in his books. And this, after I write about Mistborn and complain about too much explanation. Tcha.
Three Days to Never isn’t nearly as over my head as some of his other books (Declare, Last Call, The Anubis Gate, etc.), but there’s still an awful lot going on in this book. There’s time travel, Einstein, quantum mechanics, psychics, astral projection, Charlie Chaplin…In this book, I think Powers has unbent a little and used his story to explain what’s really going on, especially towards the end. Or, it could be that reading Dante’s Equation and some of the other works of fiction that borrow from the world of physics has prepared me a little bit for this.
But I think what I really like about Powers comes down to two things. One, he is absolutely fabulous about blending fact and fiction. It makes it hard to tell what really happened and what didn’t–especially when your book involved time travel and alternate histories–but it makes for a very involving story and a smooth read. The other thing that I like about Powers books, and this one in particular, is the way that he pulled in other works of fiction. The Tempest plays a really big role in this one. The only other author I’ve read who’s managed to do this (though he took it to a whole other level) is Dan Simmons who blended The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Tempest with science fiction and created Ilium and Olympos.
Tim Powers is an acquired taste, I’ll admit, but he is well worth it. I’ve never found anyone who writes quite like he does. I never know what to expect when I hear he has a new book out.