BRIEF SYNOPSIS: I don’t think you can write a brief synopsis of this book. You might as well try to summarize Proust.
PROS: The Tim Powers skewed view of fantasy, Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, the Mossad, time travel and more.
CONS: Somewhat convoluted plot, feels a lot like Expiration Date.
BOTTOM LINE: Not as inventive as Declare, but still worth a read if you’re a Tim Powers fan.
Three Days To Never is the newest fantastical creation from Tim Powers, and this time Powers takes on time travel. It’s not easy to summarize a Powers book, and this one is no different. I will say that Three Days To Never takes an eclectic selection of subjects and injects them with Powers’ signature skewed worldbuilding to concoct something unlike anything else you may have read, except, maybe, another Powers book (more on that in a bit). Here, Powers postulates that Albert Einstein created a machine that allows the user to not only travel in time, but it can also be used as a terrible weapon more fearsome than a nuclear bomb. It was this last possibility that caused Einstein to hide the existence of the machine as best he could, but various groups, among them the Mossad and a group called the Vespers, know of its existence are trying to track it down for their own reasons. Enter Frank Marrity and his daughter Daphne. Upon the death of Frank’s mother, a chain of events begins that encompasses Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Daphne’s poltergeist-like powers, mysterious video tapes, shrunken human heads, psychics and ghosts. In otherwords, a typical Powers melange of ideas.
The major problem I had with this book was it felt too much like Expiration Date. Both feature a cast of historically significant figures (Edison/Houdini vs. Einstein/Chaplin) set against an occult background in Souther California. Sure, the details are different, but not different enough to separate the two books in my mind. This was a disappointment to me given the wonderful story Powers wrote with his previous book, Declare. That’s not to say Three Days To Never is a bad book, it isn’t. Even a lesser Powers book is better than most stuff out there, but he has set the bar high with both Declare and The Anubis Gates and Three Days To Never doesn’t reach those heights. The other knock was the plot was a bit convoluted, and the constant switching back and forth between the various groups served to chop it up even more. While, from an action stand point this served to move the story along, it left me constantly trying to remember who was who and just what group they were working for.
While Three Days To Never may not be Powers best work, its still a good read. You’ll certainly want to pick it up if you’re a Powers fan.