by Rodger Turner
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.
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?
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?"
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.
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);
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);
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)
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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