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Expiration Date Paperback – Mar 20 2007
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Koot Parganas has stolen the ghost of Thomas Edison, preserved in a hidden glass vial. Now he's on the run through the dark underside of Los Angeles, among characters who extend their lives and enhance their power by catching and absorbing the ghosts of the recently dead. Like The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides, this fantasy has an astonishing power that remains long after the last page is turned. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The playful spirit of Lewis Carroll's Alice books-"the Old and New Testament for ghosts," as one character in this screwball supernatural comedy puts it-live on in World Fantasy Award-winning Powers's latest dazzler (after Last Call). The ghosts here aren't malevolent specters but lingering essences of the dead that are snorted and ingested by spirit junkies for the rush of memories they yield. When 11-year-old Koot Hoomie Parganas becomes possessed by the ghost of Thomas Alva Edison, a feeding frenzy begins among West Coast ghost eaters eager to absorb the great inventor's genius. Kootie's efforts to elude his pursuers eventually dovetail with electrical engineer Pete Sullivan's quest to prevent his evil stepmother from eating the ghost of his father and thus covering up her complicity in his death. Powers builds this world on a wacky foundation of physics and metaphysics, and he peoples it with eccentrics like Sherman Oaks, a one-armed ghost hunter who detects his quarry with his phantom limb, and Nicky Bradfield, a deceased teen celebrity who subsists entirely on cinnamon candy. Although filled with routine chase sequences, the novel is a minefield of exploding surprises that will have readers convinced that the author has tapped into a more magical reality behind everyday life.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it. I think that Powers is one of the most (if not *the* most) creative, inventive and possibly mad fantasy writers working today. It's rarely that I read a writer who really makes me say "How on earth did he think of *that*?"
Powers creates a plot centering around the ghost of Thomas Edison, the idea that ghosts can be inhaled for their essence, and complicated ideas about magic and superstition. Somehow he makes this plot feel almost inevitable-- it never feels odd for the sake of odd.
So why is it my least favorite? I think that it's largely an issue of comparison. For all that the premise in this book is highly believable, it's not quite as real to me as the Last Call world. There are a few too many characters and there are almost places where some of them feel as though they're driving the plot. But largely it's because I don't quite believe the motivation where deLarava is concerned-- I find her one of the weakest of the Powers characters and I have trouble buying her eventual character arc.
Still, any Powers is more worth reading more than the best book by almost anyone else.
I'm happy to say that EXPIRATION DATE is much more like ON STRANGER TIDES and THE ANUBIS GATES. Powers' trick of the trade is the incorporation of historical figures in wildly fantastical yet internally plausible plots. When this works, the reader learns something about the period and personalities while also being entertained. When Powers is at his best, the reader may think some of the fantastic parts *are* history.
What if ghosts lingered on, and could be "attracted" by conundrums and disorder, could be absorbed by the living who are then "revitalized"? What if certain people's ghosts were stronger--people like Harry Houdini and Thomas Edison, who knew that their ghosts would be desired by the greedy living? These are Powers' concepts and he plays them perfectly, establishing the rules as he establishes the characters, always remaining consistent within his world. What Powers has done here is invent his own system of magic, as if he were writing a new role-playing system, then working within those rules as he role plays the characters toward the plot conclusion.
Aside from the mechanics, Powers' strength also lies within his character portraits.Read more ›
The story line itself is a very convoluted mating of urban ghosts, two rather well known historical figures, and a large set of major characters who are apparently unrelated to each other at the beginning but who eventually are all intertwined. The driving force behind the plot is the idea that ghosts can be captured, bottled, and inhaled by the living, imparting their memories and life essence to the inhaler. Certain people have become addicted to this habit, and will do anything to capture a really strong ghost, murder being almost the least of that 'anything'. Into this idea Powers drops the ghost of Thomas Edison, a man almost reverentially talked about in schools for his multitudinous inventions, but not exactly the nicest man in the world, as a really powerful ghost that everyone who is capable of sensing his presence wants to get.
The set of ideas that Powers introduces here is impressive: inhaleable ghosts, 'rotten' ghosts that once inhaled make it impossible to inhale more ghosts, the possibility of a freshly dead person's ghost continuing to use his body, ghosts who slowly obtain a substantial physical form by ingesting trash, an ingested ghost's personality may take over the consciousness of the inhaler, and many more. None of these ideas are directly laid out at the beginning of the book, but slowly become obvious as you proceed through the story - but while you are learning Powers' ghost rules, you are likely to feel somewhat confused.Read more ›
I read Expiration Date, and thought the ghost-chasing and eating plots were wonderful, especially since so much of it derived from known eccentricities.
And then, comes Earthquake Weather, where the protagonists from each novel meet and work together to raise the King of the West from the dead, along with a host of new characters.
It's not a bad novel at all; that's why it gets four stars. As usual, Powers writes very well, with good characterization and intelligent plotting.
My issue with it is...it's a team-up book, like Spiderman Vs. Superman. Part of the fun is the learning experience of the main characters, as they figure out what the heck is going on and how to survive. We see that from the main character, but then we have the characters of the previous two novels, who should know what to do...but don't. Somehow, that aspect bothered me far more than I'd've thought.
It's still a good novel, but I'm pretty sure it could've been better.
Most recent customer reviews
This isn't a book to read while recuperating from having one's wisdom teeth. A muddled mind utterly dependent on Naproxen Sodium to recuperate from oral surgery, is no match for... Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2001
"Expiration Date" opens with Koot Hoomie Parganas, running away from home and into trouble, in L.A. in the early 90's. Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2000 by Mike Christie
As soon as I saw the cover, I knew Expiration Date was going to be a thrill. And, I was right! The story about a boy who swallows the ghost of Thomas Edison and as a result is... Read morePublished on July 12 2000
I've been a fan of Tim Powers' work for several years now, and I think it could be argued that EXPIRATION DATE and LAST CALL are his two best works. Read morePublished on June 5 2000 by Texas Annie
I love Tim Powers but I was initially hesitant about this book, mostly because of its length and the fact that I had heard several mixed reviews about it, generally a new Tim... Read morePublished on April 10 2000 by Michael Battaglia
If you've never read a Tim Powers book before, stick with this story early. All his books are impenetrable in the early going, but if you just let yourself go with the flow, you... Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2000 by Quint Daulton
There is an awful conspiracy afoot in the fantasy publishing business. As soon as an author writes two or three good 300 page novels, the publishers' thugs kidnap them. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2000 by bimargulies
I really liked this book and the sequal Earthquake Weather.I had never read any of Tim Powers works before and I enjoyed this one. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 1999