Review: Earthquake Weather

By Tim Powers

Tim Powers' earlier book Expiration Date intrigued me enough to pick up this one. I've heard that Expiration Date was one of his weakest books, and I liked that enough to pick up this, one of his better books.

When picking up Expiration Date, I read the blurb on the back cover which ruined a major surprise for me in the book. Thinking that Earthquake Weather would do the same thing, I didn't read the back cover of this one. That was a bad idea. I was under the impression that this book was a sequel to Last Call and touched upon Expiration Date. However, on page 10, every character I didn't like in that last book shows up again. I read the back cover. They're all the major players in the book. I've read about a hundred pages into the book and skimmed ahead and it was true.

Powers also does something that I hate. It's a sequel, so they're using concepts from the earlier book, such as "bar-time". However, Powers has to explain bar-time to the reader, just in case the reader hadn't picked up the earlier book but has to do it quickly enough so he doesn't bore readers of the previous work. In the book, a character explains to another what bar-time is, but it reads as if the author is explaining it to the reader. It feels choppy.

There's a character who's been around for 40-60 pages before he's given a description -- he's obese, has white hair. Sorry author, but by that time, your readers have already created thier own image of the character. Throwing in a major descriptor like that without giving the reader any clues that he's anything but average weight doesn't work. Why not add a sentence soon after he's introduced ("He squeezed into the chair.") to get the readers to realize that the character might be overweight sometime before we begin to imagine him to be simply stocky?

Like another book series I read, this starts off with something that made me cry out "Where the hell did that come from?" In the previous book, we're introduced to a neat world with ghosts, ghost hunters, a hidden Los Angeles, everything seemed to have rules and guidelines that were followed. Here, we start out with what appears to be a radical departure from the previous work. Various elements from the first book seem to have been changed in this book. Rather than a continuation of Expiration Date, Earthquake Weather is derived from concepts found in Expiration Date. Regardless, I put the book down somewhere around page 120 and haven't picked it up again.

And don't get me started on how every character smokes.