Powers, Tim. The Bible Repairman and Other Stories.

San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2011.

For me, Tim Powers is one of a small number of “automatic” authors: Anything he writes, I want to read. Still, while this slender collection of five short stories and an almost-novelette, all previously published in other small collections or as chapbooks, is enjoyable, it holds nothing remarkable. In fact, it’s a little uneven.

The protagonist of the title story specializes in negotiating with kidnappers for the safe return of loved ones — after their deaths. “A Soul in a Bottle,” which I think is the best thing here, is a spooky little number in which a rare book scout has to deal with a poetess who suicided a generation ago, and who wants to return, and her surviving sister, who didn’t and doesn’t. “The Hour of Babel” is a pretty lightweight piece about an alien visitation; it reminds me of the Circle’s visit in Flatland. “Parallel Lines” is also a story about a ghost who wants to return, this time to haunt her elderly twin sister, just as she did when she was alive. “A Journey of Only Two Paces” follows the apparent theme of the volume, being concerned with yet another attempted return from the grave, though this time the magic ritual required is reminiscent of the Earthquake Weather trilogy. Finally, there’s “A Time to Cast Away Stones,” the protagonist of which is Edward Trelawny, a supporting player in The Stress of her Regard (and a real person, more or less), who here is galloping through Greece with his young wife in 1824, shortly after the death of Lord Byron, and trying to finesse the old gods on Mount Parnassus. While I loved that novel, and while this is the most classically Powersian piece here (as “secret history”), it doesn’t really seem to add anything to the story. Well, no one gets it perfect every time, not even Tim Powers.

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Published in: on 19 June 2012 at 9:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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