Book reviews Book reviews
Expiration date
"Expiration Date" (Tim Powers 1996) is a strange strange tale of ghosts and those who feed on ghosts. Powers weaves a world in which addicts sniff ghosts as they might snort cocaine or inject heroin. A subworld of suppliers trap ghosts for their customers. Mixing real history with 1992 Los Angeles and gritty fantasy Powers has the protagonists contending for the ghosts of Thomas Edison and Harry Houdini. But the ghost of Thomas Edison has no desire to be ingested.

The attraction of reading Tim Powers is in the worlds he creates. While they have fantastical elements those elements are made real, are givens, are part of the bricks and mortar of the world. Powers also with verve marries up his fantasy with real history to the point of the real history feeling fantastical.

"Expiration Date" has themes common to other Powers books like quests for the postponement of death, and layers of reality and history. So Powers explains the apparently random events of history as being the result of dealings in an otherworldly realm. The lead characters in "Expiration Date" go on journeys of redemption and resolution, and by the end a kind of right has triumphed.