Tim Powers,
Earthquake Weather
(Tor, 1997)

I actually bought Earthquake Weather first, before I knew about Last Call or Expiration Date. About five pages into the novel, I decided I'd better figure out if it was a sequel to another book. Powers jumped right in and took off -- events went racing right and left -- and I was left behind, thinking, "Whoa! I missed something!"

Earthquake Weather picks up where Last Call and Expiration Date left off and deals more fully with the legend of the Fisher King. Powers goes all out in this one, using ancient fertility rituals surrounding Dionysus and the Fisher King.

Scott Crane is murdered by a schizophrenic woman, and the land is slowly dissolving. Too late, Janis Plumtree (Cody/Valerie/Tiffany/etc./etc.) realizes what she has done and employs the help of Scant Cochran, whom she meets in a mental institution. Meanwhile, Kootie and his adopted parents, Pete and Angelica, debate the resurrection of Crane with Arky Mavranos and Crane's wife, Diana.

Just as he did in the first two novels, Powers handles the fusion between myth and modern life with dexterity and flair. The cults surrounding the wine god Dionysus are researched and presented in truly imaginative contexts, opening up a powerful story about life and death. Earthquake Weather clips along at an amazing pace, leaving the reader breathless in anticipation.

I must admit that there were parts of this story that I didn't like as much as I did the other two novels. Because I had read the other two novels first (after putting this one down and going out to find them), I felt very comfortable with the characters from those books. As soon as I discovered that they weren't really the main characters in this novel, I felt a little resentful. Powers almost treats Crane, Arky, Kootie, Pete and Angelica as background characters for the love story that develops between Scant and Janis/Cody/Valerie/whoever-else-she-is. However, the last chapter more than makes up for that, as Powers presents the reader with a ceremony that truly integrates the Fisher King legends.

Take my advice: Read Earthquake Weather, but make sure you read the other two novels first. All three will stick in your head for weeks as you puzzle through the details and find new surprising connections each time a piece snaps into place.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]

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