Saturday, November 7, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown: No. 54

"Three Days to Never" by Tim Powers

I first learned about the writing of Tim Powers from a list of favorite books my college roommate posted on a Web page way back in the mid-1990s, back when the WWW was first getting interesting. He listed Last Call and The Anibus Gate" as among his favorite books. I eventually read Last Call and loved it, with its baroque plot and symbolism deeply woven into Las Vegas and Christianity. "Never" is Powers' most recent alternative history novel, as far as I know. It brings Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and the children of a man who was not really born into a complicated series of incidents involving time travel and teleportation. As with his other books, Powers' peripheral characters have a bizarre twist: One man can sense when he's done something for the last time, and another is a severed head. The story climaxes in an extraordinarily complicated series of events that happen, then happen again, as characters face off against different versions of themselves. I find I have to reread parts of the novel to figure out exactly what's going on, but the effort is rewarding.

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