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Powers: Secret Histories -- a Tim Powers bibliography by John Berlyne
by Rodger Turner

Dinner at Deviant's Palace I still remember when I was reading Dinner at Deviant's Palace (1984) by Tim Powers for the first time. After some 27 years of reading SF, I thought it would be hard to startle me with ideas and amaze me with plot. Sure, I could become engrossed with a sense of wonder and be charmed by a delightful turn of phrase. But I had read a lot of books and it didn't seem like there could be more. Boy, I was young and stupid. I found a number of treasures and surprises in Dinner at Deviant's Palace and Tim Powers became one of my favourite writers on the spot.

Twelve Hours of the Night Later that year, I was co-chair of The World Fantasy Convention and I was running around like a bunny trying to keep things from exploding in all directions. This fellow stopped me as I was rushing along and said, "I'm Tim Powers. I wonder if you can help me?" My brain stopped. I didn't know that he would be there and he was with his pal, James Blaylock. I don't recall what I said or did but I must have been polite since he didn't stomp off. Later, he gave me a copy of Twelve Hours of the Night by William Ashbless, signed by the author, and thanked us for the convention, saying what a good time he was having.

Since then, I've been a dedicated fan of Tim Powers (and James Blaylock as well). I've read all of his books. I've sought out his more obscure titles. I've followed his career and put his new books on the top of my reading pile. I've included him as a staple on my "reread" list (which is a list of titles I use to refresh my love of SF by rereading them when too many new books get tossed unfinished into the corner and I figure the shine has gone off my SF bloom).

When we began SF Site, it was my fervent hope to feature many Tim Powers books. We've reviewed a few (The Drawing of the Dark, Earthquake Weather and Declare plus a SF Site Interview) but not nearly as many as we should have done. But who knows what the future may bring?


The Devils in the Details The Drawing of the Dark On Stranger Tides The SKies Discrowned Earthquake Weather

Now as many of you know, I like bibliographies, particularly annotated ones. There are a number of reasons why. I like looking at the covers used by different publishers for the same book and the various artist's interpretations of the material. I like looking to see whether there is something published of which I was not aware. I like having all the information in one place. I like to read others impressions of material I've read to see how right (or wrong) they might be. I like it that there is a sufficient number of people who are like me and want all this information collected in one place. I like publishers who print books about books for the love of them (I don't imagine bibliographies is a lucrative sideline for publishers).

So it was with a great deal of excitement when I learned that one of the SF Site contributors, John Berlyne, the UK editor of SFRevu.com, had found a publisher for his Tim Powers bibliography -- Peter Crowther and PS Publishing. John had spoken of his desire to do this book for a number of years and now it is coming soon. From his web site, here is some history on how he decided to put together Powers: Secret Histories:

I have a very real fear of being thought of as one of those people clearly obsessed with a grand scheme, but who seems completely incapable of bringing it to fruition. You know the kind I mean -- "Oh, there's old Berlyne, still going on about his so-called Powers book" -- the guy who folks laugh at behind their hands. "Say! How is your book coming along John? And how long has it been now? Six? Seven years?"

I first got the idea to do what was essentially a paper version of this web site way back before the turn of the century. By that time I had unearthed so much fascinating information for the site about the many and varied editions of Tim's works that it struck me a properly researched and presented Powers bibliography would be a really nice collectable in its own right. Thinking of myself as the target demographic, I was sure that there would be other Powers fans who might like such a document, perhaps nicely bound, maybe even signed by Powers himself. I'd discovered by this time that any pre-existing bibliographic lists of Powers book were all woefully inadequate -- in fact the thin 1991 Ultramarine pamphlet by Christopher Stephens and Tom Joyce entitled A Checklist of Tim Powers remains the only official bibliography of Powers's works, and it is now half a career old.

There's no question that there is a market for an updated and definitive Powers bibliography, signed or not -- and even in this age of on-line catalogues, official author web sites and unofficial fan tribute sites, the true collectors (of which there are many where Powers is concerned) still desire a physical reference work from which they can tick off those elusive titles they still need to fill the gaps on their shelves.

For someone setting out to create such a reference, certain choices must be made -- not least how much detail to go into. The Stephens check-list is pretty spare and what detail there is turns out to be not all that helpful for the bone fide collector. This is not surprising, given that Stephens and Joyce created their minor Powers bibliography as part of a larger series of similar pamphlets. Additionally I've been recently enlightened to the fact that putting together a bibliography ain't exactly a picnic, and it must have been a damn site harder before the arrival of the internet, although ironically for the bibliographer the internet tends throws up more red herrings than a trawler could catch.

Nevertheless the very basic requirements of a bibliography dictate that every title an author's published canon be listed -- and within that brief, a further choice must be made. How much detail is necessary? Are we talking about every edition of every title? Are we going to dealing purely with British or American publications or do we go global? Are we talking simply novels? Or shorter fiction too? This would constitute an author's 'primary' bibliography, but what of other writings by our man? Introductions to works by other authors, afterwords, articles, essays, review by, reviews about, shopping lists, doodles…?

Continued on John Berlyne's site at www.theworksoftimpowers.com/secret-histories/…

Powers: Secret Histories
Dust Jacket for Powers: Secret Histories by John Berlyne

Table of Contents
   Foreword by John Berlyne
   Introduction by Dean Koontz
   1– Bibliography
   2– Notes on the Bibliographic System
       5– Section A - Novels
    101– Section B - Short Stories, Novellas and Other Books
    145– Section C -William Ashbless
173– Appendix
   To Serve in Hell Excerpt
   Time Travel, Time Travel and Time Travel by China Miéville
   Afterword by Karen Joy Fowler

John put together some details on the book (including sending a copy of the above dust jacket). Powers: Secret Histories has been nearly ten years in the making and brings together a broad range of Tim Powers information and material. As you can see from the Table of Contents at left, fans receive about 575 pages on his work thus far. As well as a complete, illustrated reference of every Tim Powers book published to date, Secret Histories offers an insight into the stories behind the stories, collecting together in a single volume including Powers material previously rarely seen. By my count, there is 95 pages about his many novels alone. Then for the keeners (my hand is up), you'll find 27 pages about William Ashbless. Now I know about the poetry and the cookbook but it is apparent that much more material is out there.

John points out that, in the bibliography, the reader will find Tim Powers poetry, a host of his drawings, research and plotting notes, novel outlines, early drafts, out-takes and an excerpt from the author's unpublished 1974 novel, To Serve in Hell.

Supporting these are story notes and commentary by Tim Powers along with articles and essays from collaborators, friends and famed Powers aficionados including Dean Koontz, James Blaylock, China Miéville, Karen Joy Fowler, John Bierer, John Berlyne and William Ashless. Powers: Secret Histories is a bibliographic tribute celebrating the work of a truly extraordinary writer.

I have spent a lot of time paging through a variety of bibliographies like those done for Roger Zelazny, Philip K. Dick and Michael Marshall Smith. I even bought two copies of The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998 (1998) by Jack L. Chalker and Mark Owings, published by Mirage Press -- one in hard cover and the other as a digital PDF (Adobe Acrobat) file. In them, I discovered a variety of tidbits that sent shivers up and down my spine. But I must admit that I think those bibliographies pale in comparison to Powers: Secret Histories by John Berlyne. This book has details no other of its type will contain. If you like Tim Powers writing, you'll need a copy. I suggest you follow the links below and order a copy today. Don't wait until tomorrow, do it now. And while paging down for the links, have a look at the end papers designed for Powers: Secret Histories. You'll wonder how many editions of The Anubis Gates there are. I counted forty four.

Powers: Secret Histories end papers
End Papers for Powers: Secret Histories by John Berlyne

PS Publishing has announced three editions of this oversized hardcover, all printed in full colour and all dust-jacketed:

a limited numbered state, signed by Tim Powers (1,000 numbered copies, each selling for £40.00/$60US);
For more information on this limited edition…

a slipcased state, signed by all contributors, and issued with an additional book -- an incomplete and previously unpublished novel written by Tim Powers in the early 70s entitled The Waters Deep, Deep, Deep which will be signed by Tim Powers and will feature unique cover art and internal illustrations by him, as well as both an introduction and afterword (200 copies, each selling for £195.00/$292.50US);
For more information on this slipcased edition…

a deluxe, lettered edition which will be as the above slipcased version plus another treat. Tim Powers has given permission to reproduce a full colour facsimile edition of his original handwritten manuscript of The Anubis Gates, complete with doodles, crossings out, dog-eared corners and even coffee stains! Only twenty-six copies of this facsimile, signed by Tim Powers and individually lettered, will be available as part of this deluxe three book, specially slipcased edition (26 copies, each selling for £495.00/$742.50US)
For more information on this deluxe edition…


Strage Itineraries The William Ashbless Memorial Cookbook Epitaph in Rust Expiration Date Night Moves and Other Stories

Copyright © 2008-2009 Rodger Turner

Rodger has read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in forty years. He can only shake his head and say, "So many books, so little time."


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