Creator / Tim Powers

Tim Powers is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. His breakout novel was The Anubis Gates, published in 1983. Other novels include Declare, Dinner at Deviant's Palace, The Drawing of the Dark, Earthquake Weather, Expiration Date, Last Call, On Stranger Tides, The Stress of Her Regard, and Three Days to Never.

Many of his works show arcane forces at work in the backstage areas of history, revealing the "real" causes and motivations behind historical events.

They also tend to be populated by body snatchers, identical twins, clones, time-travelling duplicates, and other kinds of doppelganger — Powers has said in interviews that he finds something powerful and worrying about the idea of meeting a person who looks and acts just like somebody you know but isn't, and many of his works have a scene of that kind. Some of them invert it, with a character meeting a complete stranger who turns out somehow to be somebody they already know; it's not any less creepy that way around.

On Stranger Tides became the basis for the fourth movie in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series, as well as being an inspiration for the Monkey Island series of games.

Interesting historical note: During the 1970s, Tim Powers spent a lot of time hanging out with Philip K. Dick.

Works by Tim Powers with their own trope pages include:

Other works by Tim Powers provide examples of:

  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: A recurring feature.
  • Body Snatcher: A recurring feature.
  • Canon Welding:
    • Earthquake Weather is a sequel to both Expiration Date and Last Call, with characters returning from both.
    • "Nobody's Home" is a ghost story using the ghost lore from Expiration Date and Hide Me Among the Graves but set during The Anubis Gates.
  • Confessional: In "Through and Through", a priest is visited in the confessional by the ghost of a recently-deceased parishioner, who is unable to move on because he refused to assign her a penance the last time she came to confession. (Not because he considered her beyond absolution, but because he's a progressive-minded post-Vatican II priest and didn't think the transgression she was confessing to counted as a sin requiring absolution in the first place.)
  • The Constant: "Salvage and Demolition" involves a Stable Time Loop connecting a day in 1957 with a day in 2012, and features a number of Constants, including an agent of The Conspiracy who appears as a young man in 1957 and an old man in 2012, and a box of assorted junk which contains the MacGuffin that the conspiracy is trying to get its hands on.
  • Creator In-Joke: When Tim Powers and James Blaylock were in college together, they invented a fake poet named "William Ashbless" to satirize the quality of their college's literary magazine. Nearly every novel Powers and Blaylock have written has had a reference to Ashbless in it somewhere — most famously The Anubis Gates, in which he appears as a major character.
  • Doppelgänger: A recurring feature.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A recurring feature. Nearly every book runs on this trope, and few of Power's characters survive their arc without making some major sacrifices along the way, be it of blood, love, flesh, or memory.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: Ghosts in Last Call, Expiration Date, and Earthquake Weather affect compasses, make telephone calls, and appear on TV sets to communicate important information.
  • Epigraph: A recurring feature.
  • Fingore: Something horrible happens to at least one character's hands or fingers in each book.
  • Fisher King: The legend of the Fisher King is central to Last Call and its sequel Earthquake Weather. It is also mentioned in Expiration Date, which forms a trilogy with Last Call and Earthquake Weather.
  • Flying Dutchman, Man Without A Country subtype: An unnamed minor character in the short story "Itinerary", based on the real-life Merhan Karimi Nasseri.
  • Grand Theft Me: A recurring feature.
  • Have We Met Yet?: In "Salvage and Demolition", the protagonist is mysteriously transported to the past three times, each time earlier than before. Along the way, he has two encounters with a woman who's also connected to the story's MacGuffin, with reciprocal versions of the "This is the first you've met me, but you'll meet me again later and then it will be the first time I've met you" conversation.
  • Historical-Domain Character: A recurring feature.
  • Historical Fantasy: A recurring feature.
  • Immortality Immorality: Shows up again and again in his work.
  • One Steve Limit: Inverted in the short story "Pat Moore", in which it's a plot point that all the main characters have the same name.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • In Hide Me Among the Graves ghosts are just fragments of people's souls and memories that eventually wander into streams and rivers and are carried out gradually to the ocean where they join and decay with other ghosts.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes:
    • In the short story "Pat Moore" a man meets the ghost of his wife, who, having no eyes of her own, can see only what he can see.
  • Stable Time Loop: Powers's default model of time travel, with only Three Days to Never standing as a significant exception.
  • Steam Punk: The term "steampunk" was coined by K. W. Jeter to describe the speculative fiction stories in a Victorian setting that he, Powers and James Blaylock were writing in the early 1980s.
  • Stolen Good, Returned Better: In Earthquake Weather, fugitive Cody steals a car, picking one that's a few decades old because it's easier to hotwire. She does some work on it while it's in her hands, so when the owner eventually gets it back it's in better condition than it was when she stole it.
  • Urban Fantasy: A recurring feature.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?
  • You Can't Fight Fate: A recurring feature on any occasion that involves time travel.