Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Three Days to Never

Go To
Three Days to Never is a 2006 fantasy novel by Tim Powers.

The action takes place over three days in August 1987. Frank Marrity's grandmother dies in mysterious circumstances, and he discovers something strange and dangerous in her garden shed, something that is sought both by Mossad and by a centuries-old secret society. Something that just might, three days from now, bring about the end of the world.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Ancient Conspiracy: The main villains are a sorcerous order with roots in the 13th century.
  • Badass Israeli: The Mossad team.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: The MacGuffin is a truly unconventional time machine created by Albert Einstein as a result of his exploration into astral projection and the Sephirot, with Charlie Chaplin lending a hand at some point.
  • The Constant: The method to steer the time machine to a particular point in time requires an object that was present there and underwent a significant change at the target moment.
  • Demonic Possession: Lisa Marrity was haunted by a malevolent supernatural creature (referred to by the Jewish term "dybbuk") which transfers its attentions to Frank, and attempts to possess his daughter Daphne.
  • Disappeared Dad: Frank and his sister were raised by their grandmother after their father disappeared when they were very young. It turns out their father didn't deliberately abandon them — he was done in by the bad guys.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Fingore: The first time Oren Lepidopt got one of his premonitions, he immediately tried to prove it wrong by going against what it predicted, and wound up minus a finger.
  • Future Me Scares Me: The plot is complicated by the arrival of a future version of one of the characters (from the distant future year of 2006), who is dangerously determined to prevent the course of events that produced him.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Certain magical powers are restricted by gender; one of the characters is a sorcerer who, it turns out, was born female and went to extreme lengths to gain access to male magic.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative: Lisa Marrity is really Lieserl Einstein, the daughter of Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić who disappeared from the historical record as an infant, making her descendants examples of this trope.
  • Historical Fantasy: Does The '80s count as "historical" yet?
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: An emergency tracheotomy performed by a non-professional is a key plot event. It's not a neat Hollywood tracheotomy, and has serious repercussions.
  • Literary Work of Magic: Charlie Chaplin worked symbolic imagery into City Lights as part of a magical ritual to attempt to bring his son back from the dead. An earlier movie he'd worked on but never shown to the public is part of the MacGuffin; Albert Einstein had to talk Chaplin out of showing the movie, as the mojo generated by the imagery would likely fry some audience brains.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Daphne's mother died two years before the events of the novel.
    • Frank's mother left Frank and his sister Moira in the care of their paternal grandmother, Lisa, and took off. She died a few months later.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different:
    • Ghosts experience time backwards, so if one has the proper apparatus (involving the specially prepared mummified head of someone chosen to be a medium) they can talk to ghosts to get hints of the future.
    • The "dybbuk" is a kind of vengeful ghost, not of somebody who died badly, but of somebody who was never born because of time travelers messing with their past.
  • Posthumous Character: Lisa Marrity dies on the first page, but her influence (and that of her father) overshadows the entire novel.
  • Psychic Link: There's one between Frank and his daughter Daphne, that grows stronger over the course of the novel.
  • Psychic Powers: Various characters exhibit precognition, psychokinesis, astral projection, and several versions of remote viewing.
  • Punny Name: Charlotte uses the pseudonym "Libra Nosamalo", from "libera nos a malo" ("deliver us from evil"), a line from the Lord's Prayer.
  • Ret-Gone: The secret society villains can do this to a person.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: The traveler from the future remembers his timeline even after the event which led to it has been averted, which causes him to renew his efforts on the assumption that it's still going to happen somehow.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Charlotte is blind, but can see through the eyes of people near her. The ramifications and limitations are explored in some depth.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Three Days to Never has, unusually for Powers, a version of time travel in which it's actually possible to change the past, and several people attempt to make use of it (generally with unpleasant consequences regardless of how noble their motives are).
  • Spy Fiction: The Mossad subplot is the Stale Beer variety.
  • Time Travel: As you'd expect in a novel about Albert Einstein's time machine.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Oren Lepidopt's premonitions.