Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Expiration Date US cover

Expiration Date
(1995 UK, 1996 USA)

1st US edition Tor hardback (left)
381 pages
cover art by Michael Koelsch

1st edition HarperCollins UK paperback (right)
published over half a year before US edition
616 pages

Expiration Date UK cover

From the inside cover of the USA hardback:
       Young Koot Parganas is growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s, but his parents won't let him do anything normal. His weirdo parents venerate the spirits of the dead Mahatmas. At the age of eleven, Koot has disobeyed his parents, broken into a plaster bust of Dante, stolen the small glass vial concealed inside it, and set in motion events that will change his own life, and everyone else's.
       For trapped in the vial was the preserved ghost of Thomas Alva Edison, and there is no telling what power the possession of that ghost could confer. The exposure of Edison's ghost lights up a beacon for those who can see such things.
       Koot is pursued through the dark underside of the city, aided by allies as strange as his enemies: a bum and his dog; a man concealed by the ghostly mask of Houdini; a psychiatrist-sorceress; and a former television child-star who has been dead for several years, but who is not yet ready to leave his body or abandon his revenge on the woman who murdered his godfather.

From the back cover of the UK paperback:
       If you wake up on bar-time it could be your Expiration Date. Lew Sullivan is a perfectly ordinary union technician who leads a perfectly ordinary life. But Sullivan has an extraordinary past. A past that is about to catch up with him. Thus, when he receives a telephone call from his estranged twin sister who is about to commit suicide he realizes that he's living on borrowed time. And when the ghosts of Thomas Edison and Harry Houdini are forced to return to the world, his worst fears are confirmed...
       Using settings as diverse as old Hollywood and Venice to a spiritually charged modern Los Angeles, Tim Powers takes us through his brilliant new novel of ghosts, rituals and the supernatural in his own inimitable style.

Read for group discussion on July 14, 1999

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 8 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 5 Barb 6
Aaron - Cynthia 9
Lars - Jackie -
Kerry - Lindsey 4

Our book group has read read the following books by Tim Powers
-- The Anubis Gates  in April 1995
-- Last Call  in May 1997
-- Three Days to Never  in April 2008

Tim Powers (1952-      ) is a US writer of fantasy and science fiction.

1984 Philip K. Dick Award for The Anubis Gates
1986 Philip K. Dick Award for Dinner at Deviant's Palace
1993 World Fantasy Award for novel Last Call
2001 World Fantasy Award for novel Declare

His first novels were The Skies Discrowned (1976, rev as Forsake the Sky 1986), and Epitaph in Rust (1976).  Both could probably classified as fantasy tinged SF adventures.

Powers first gained serious attention with his third novel, The Drawing of the Dark (1979).  It deals with an aging hero who is the avatar of legendary champions, The Fisher King, and dark beer.

His next book The Anubis Gates (1983) won the 1984 Philip K. Dick Award.  It's a wild tale of time travel to London in the 1800s and the 1600s, poets both historical and fictional, and weird vindictive Egyptian sorcerers.

--Dinner at Deviant's Palace (1985) is a post holocaust SF novel set in California.

--On Stranger Tides (1987) is a fantasy pirate
and voodoo novel.

--The Stress of Her Regard (1989) is a dark fantasy novel with romantic poets being inspired by a sort of vampire.  Features poets
Byron and Shelley.

Fault Lines, a loose series:
--Last Call (1992), first published as mainstream fiction, is set in Las Vegas.  In it magic touches our world.  There is a high stakes card game played with Tarot Cards.  Legends of the Fisher King come into play.
--Expiration Date (1995, 1996) shows a dark side to Los Angeles. It includes possession, and the eating of ghosts.  A British edition came out long before an American edition because Powers changed his American publisher.
--Earthquake Weather (1997) is a sequel to both Last Call and Expiration Date, which previously seemed unconnected.  It's set in present day California and involves restoring the western king.  There are some new characters introduced.

--Declare (2001) is a Cold War thriller, spy novel.

--Three Days to Never (2006) involves secret societies, traveling in time and space, Charlie Chaplin, and Albert Einstein.

Short fiction collections and shorter works published as books:
--Night Moves (1986), a fantasy novelette
--Strange Itineraries (2005), nine stories, includes three collaborations with James P. Blaylock
--The Bible Repairman (2006), a short story including kidnapped spirits
--A Soul in a Bottle (2006), a novelette ghost story featuring a poetess

Our book club's page for Three Days to Never by Tim Powers
The Works of Tim Powers
Stranger Tides - A Tim Powers site
Locus Online Tim Powers interview excerpts (Feb. 2002)
Locus Online Tim Powers interview (Mar. 1998)
Rambles review: Tim Powers, Expiration Date
Tim Powers - Wikipedia
Steven Silver's Reviews : Expiration Date

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This page was last updated October 12, 2008