Thursday, September 29, 2011

Good Story 019: Declare

Declare by Tim Powers

Episode 19. Here is a list: Philby. Espionage. Powers. Declare. While they await your coded response, Julie and Scott discuss Declare by Tim Powers, a fantasy/spy thriller they both enjoyed.

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  1. An added enjoyment to a great book is when others enjoy it as much as you do. Very happy that this was the case with Declare. That my previous suggestion led you both to read it is a bonus.

    I was introduced to Tim Powers work via Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin. Tim and Jimmy are personal friends and Tim Powers is a faithful Catholic. In fact here is a great story that he told Jimmy Akin.

    "Did I tell you about the time a crowd of Jehovah's Witnesses came to our house to tell us the truth about Jesus? I had read their pamphlet on why the Trinity is a bogus idea, and it quoted a whole bunch of the Fathers, as well as the Will & Ariel Durant History of Civilization, and I assembled all the full quotes that their pamphlet had given out-of-context phrases from, and I was well into my devastating rebuttal, when I --

    Well, my eyes are no good, and I've got to read with a magnifying glass. And we were outside, and I said, "Let me see your Bible, and I'll show you right in it why you're wrong. I won't use a Catholic Bible, since you'd believe theyr'e unreliable, so let me see yours." And they handed their New World Translation Bible to me, and I started to read something from it, but it was a real sunny day, and I accidentally set their Bible on fire. I'm sure they went home and told their friends, "Those Catholics just have to touch a Bible and it bursts into flames!"

    What I love about Tim Powers work is the "wobbles" he detects and fills in to historical sources and the amount of research he does. It makes them not so much as alternate histories, but a supernatural infused explanation of actual history. Of his novels, Declare is my favorite and maybe that is because it is his most Catholic infused novel. Though Declare is pretty much a favorite among all Tim Powers fans. I've read the large majority of his books with only a couple of holes to fill due to general unavailability.

    He just came out with a new short story collection called "The Bible Repairman and other stories" which I need to get. He also has a new novel awaiting publication which is a sequel of sorts to "The Stress of Her Regard", another of my favorites of his.

  2. Oh and yes Last Call is another good place to start. The The Last Call Trilogy a.k.a The Fisher King Trilogy a.k.a Fault Lines trilogy (don't think he ever gave it an official trilogy title) is a solid series. I especially liked the Thomas Edison wobble in the second book Expiration Date as the real life person had some rather strange spiritual ideas. The other cool things about his novels is the unique ways he connects with the supernatural and this series is demonstrative of that in the ways ghosts, etc are attracted.

  3. That's great. Thanks very much Jeff for the great recommendation. Looks like I've got some great reading ahead of me!

  4. I LOVE his setting that Bible on fire! Too funny!

    I have The Bible Repairman in my sights as I saw it favorably reviewed at SF Site recently. I was looking into Last Call at Wikipedia and it looks like a good 'un, though The Stress of Her Regard sounds interesting with the theme of romantic literature (if I am remembering correctly).

    Thank you again for forcing me to get over that bump. I'm looking forward to forcing myself over any future ones now that I know the quality of these books!

  5. Can't believe I missed this until now. I'm so excited that you finally read Tim Powers!!!

    Declare is, to my mind, his best by a fairly solid margin. I haven't read Stress of Her Regard, but I would definitely strongly recommend Last Call, Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather.

    His earlier books are good, but Last Call seems to have been one of his quantum leap books where things got much better as compared to Drawing of the Dark, Stranger Tides, etc.

  6. what is your favorite book of his and what´s the synopsis? I am a personal friend of his and would like to read one of his books but I can´t find that interests me all that much.

    1. Hi, my favorite is this one. Cold War, espionage, some Lovecraft thrown in.

    2. Also, there is a terrific audio version of Declare if that interests you. Excellent narrator - Simon Prebble.