Timothy Thomas Powers (born February 29, 1952)[1] is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare. His 1987 novel On Stranger Tides served as inspiration for the Monkey Island franchise of video games and was optioned for adaptation into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film.

Tim Powers
Powers celebrating his 61st birthday in 2013
Powers celebrating his 61st birthday in 2013
Born (1952-02-29) February 29, 1952 (age 70)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Pen nameWilliam Ashbless (joint)
EducationCalifornia State University, Fullerton
GenreAdventure fiction, speculative fiction
Literary movementSteampunk
SpouseSerena Batsford
Powers at the annual ICon festival, a fan convention in Israel, October 2005
Powers in the "Koloseum" at ICon 2005

Most of Powers' novels are "secret histories". He uses actual, documented historical events featuring famous people, but shows another view of them in which occult or supernatural factors heavily influence the motivations and actions of the characters.

Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts. He reads extensively on a given subject, and the plot develops as he notes inconsistencies, gaps and curious data; regarding his 2001 novel Declare, he stated, "I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all."[2]

Life and careerEdit

Powers was born in Buffalo, New York, but has lived in California since 1959.[3] He studied English Literature at Cal State Fullerton, and earned his B.A. in 1976.[4] It was there that he first met James Blaylock and K. W. Jeter, both of whom remained close friends and occasional collaborators; the trio have half-seriously referred to themselves as "steampunks"[5] in contrast to the prevailing cyberpunk genre of the 1980s. Powers and Blaylock invented the poet William Ashbless while they were at Cal State Fullerton.[6]

Another friend Powers first met during this period was noted science fiction writer Philip K. Dick;[7] the character named "David" in Dick's novel VALIS is based on Powers. When Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was retitled Blade Runner to tie-in with the movie based on the novel, Dick dedicated it to Tim and Serena Powers.

Powers' first major novel was The Drawing of the Dark (1979),[3] but the novel that earned him wide praise was The Anubis Gates, which won the Philip K. Dick Award, and has since been published in many other languages.

Powers also teaches part-time in his role as Writer in Residence for the Orange County High School of the Arts and California School of the Arts in San Gabriel Valley in the Creative Writing Conservatory, as well as Chapman University, where Blaylock taught. He also taught part-time at the University of Redlands.

Powers and his wife, Serena Batsford Powers, currently live in Muscoy, California. He has frequently served as a mentor author as part of the Clarion science fiction/fantasy writer's workshop.[8]



The Skies Discrowned (1976)
  • Powers, Timothy (1976). The Skies Discrowned. Toronto: Laser Books. ISBN 0373720289.
  • Revised as: Powers, Tim (1986). Forsake the Sky. New York: Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 0812549732.
An Epitaph in Rust (1976)
Also published as Epitaph in Rust. The publisher's cover blurb describes a tale that "follows young Thomas from his escape from a rural monastery into the wilds of a future Los Angeles. There he joins a theater company where the play is definitely not the thing – revolution is – and he finds himself in the middle of it. The mayor has been blown up and his android guards are determined to end insurrection. But the theater company has other ideas..."
The Drawing of the Dark (1979)
The siege of Vienna was actually a struggle between Muslim and Christian magicians over the spiritual center of the West, which happens to be a small inn and brewery in Vienna. The "dark" is a beer that has been brewing for centuries, which the Fisher King will eventually drink.
The Anubis Gates (1983)
Philip K. Dick Award winner, 1983;[9] Locus Fantasy Award nominee, 1984;[10] BSFA nominee, 1985[11]
A time travel story set mostly in 1810, featuring a brainwashed Lord Byron, magic, Egyptian gods and a werewolf.
Dinner at Deviant's Palace (1985)
Philip K. Dick Award winner, and Nebula Award nominee, 1985[11]
Unusually for Powers, this is set in the future, in a postatomic America in which an extraterrestrial psychic vampire is slowly taking over.
In 2001 the group Cradle of Filth released a song entitled "Dinner at Deviant's Palace" that was simply the Lord's Prayer backmasked.
On Stranger Tides (1987)
Locus Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards nominee, 1988[12]
Set in the 18th century Caribbean; with pirates (many of them real characters, primarily Blackbeard, as well as a fictional protagonist named Jack), voodoo, zombies, Juan Ponce de León, and a strangely quantum-mechanical Fountain of Youth. Disney incorporated elements of the novel into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film.[13]
The Stress of Her Regard (1989)
Locus Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards nominee, 1990[14] and winner of the 1990 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.
Concerning the dealings of the Romantic poetsByron and Shelley are major characters – with vampire-like beings from Greek mythology, François Villon being also mentioned as minor character. Reprinted in 2008 with Tachyon Publications.
Fault Lines series
Last Call (1992)
Locus Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards winner, 1993[15]
A professional poker player finds out that he lost far more than he won in a poker game played with Tarot cards two decades ago.
Expiration Date (1996)
World Fantasy Award nominee, 1996;[16] 1996 Nebula Award nominee[16]
A boy possessed by the spirit of Thomas Edison is hunted through Los Angeles by people wanting to consume the ghost he carries.
Earthquake Weather (1997)
BSFA Award nominee, 1997;[17] Locus Fantasy Award winner, 1998[18]
Sequel to both Last Call and Expiration Date, involving the characters of both: two fugitives from a psychiatric hospital, the magical nature of multiple personality disorder, and the secret history of wine production in California.
Declare (2001)
World Fantasy Award winner and Locus Fantasy nominee, 2001;[19] 2001 Nebula Award nominee[19]
A Cold War espionage thriller which evokes Lovecraftian horror and the work of John le Carré, involving Kim Philby, djinn and the Ark on Mount Ararat.
Powers of Two (2004)
Re-release of Skies Discrowned and Epitaph in Rust.
Three Days to Never (2006)
Locus Fantasy Award nominee, 2007[20]
Hide Me Among the Graves (2012)
A sequel of sorts to The Stress of Her Regard, it involves the Rossetti family and John Crawford, son of the protagonist from The Stress of Her Regard.
Medusa's Web (2016)
A standalone novel where Scott and Madeline Madden uncover the secrets of the Hollywood mansion Caveat, a "conduit for the supernatural".
Vickery and Castine series
Alternate Routes (August 2018)
Forced Perspectives (March 2020)
Stolen Skies (January 2022)[21]
More Walls Broken (February 2019)

Short story collectionsEdit


  • The Complete Twelve Hours of the Night (1986): A joke pamphlet by Blaylock and Powers as William Ashbless, published by Cheap Street Press; features in The Anubis Gates
  • A Short Poem by William Ashbless (1987): A joke chapbook written by Phil Garland, with permission of Blaylock and Powers as Ashbless. Published by The Folly Press.
  • The William Ashbless Memorial Cookbook (2002): A cookbook by Blaylock and Powers as Ashbless. Published by Subterranean Press.
  • The Bible Repairman (2005): A chapbook containing an original short story. Published by Subterranean Press.
  • Nine Sonnets by Francis Thomas Marrity (2006): A chapbook containing nine sonnets "written" by one of the main characters in Three Days to Never. Published by Subterranean Press and given away with the collectors' edition of Three Days To Never.
  • A Soul in a Bottle (2007): A ghost story about a poet largely based on American poet Edna St Vincent Millay. This novella published by Subterranean Press.
  • Three Sonnets by Cheyenne Fleming (2007): Printed loose and inserted into the collectors' edition of A Soul in a Bottle.
  • Death of a Citizen (2012): A short nonfiction essay included in A Comprehensive Dual Bibliography of James P. Blaylock & Tim Powers by Silver Smith. Published by Argent Leaf Press.[22]
  • Salvage and Demolition (2013): Time-travel novella.[23][24] Published by Subterranean Press.
  • Nobody's Home (2014): novella set in the world of The Anubis Gates.
  • Appointment at Sunset (2014): Published by Charnel House
  • Down and Out in Purgatory (2016): A ghost story about posthumous revenge. This novella was published by Subterranean Press.

Critical studies and reviews of Powers' workEdit

Salvage and Demolition
  • Di Filippo, Paul (August 2013). "On Books". Asimov's Science Fiction. 37 (8): 107–111.


  1. ^ "WonderCon Special Guests," Comic-Con Magazine (Winter 2010), p. 20.
  2. ^ Powells.com Interviews – Tim Powers Archived 2001-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "The Powers of Fantastic Fiction | An IgnatiusInsight.com Interview with Tim Powers | September 7, 2005". www.ignatiusinsight.com. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-02-03. Retrieved 2015-04-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Nova Express, Volume 6, Number 1, "An Interview with Tim Powers", p. 9.
  6. ^ Worden, Tim. "CSUF alumni inspire art exhibit". Daily Titan. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  7. ^ "Tim Powers: 'I don't have to make anything up'". the Guardian. 2011-06-03. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  8. ^ "The SF Site: An Interview With Tim Powers". www.sfsite.com. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  9. ^ "1983 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  10. ^ "1984 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  11. ^ a b "1985 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  12. ^ "1988 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  13. ^ locusmag (2009-09-21). "Powers Novel Optioned for New Pirates of the Carribean [sic] Movie". Locus Online. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  14. ^ "1990 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  15. ^ "1993 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  16. ^ a b "1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  17. ^ "1997 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  18. ^ "1998 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  19. ^ a b "2001 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  20. ^ "2007 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
  21. ^ "Stolen Skies". Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  22. ^ Smith, Silver (2012). A Comprehensive Dual Bibliography of James P. Blaylock & Tim Powers. Dallas, Texas. ISBN 978-0-9767486-0-1. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
  23. ^ "Tim Powers – Salvage and demolition novella to be published in December". Upcoming4.me. Archived from the original on 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  24. ^ Powers, Tim (2013). Salvage and Demolition. Subterranean Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-59606-515-4.

External linksEdit