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Expiration Date Hardcover – September 30, 2008

43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; Signed Limited edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159606188X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596061880
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,183,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There are two cities in the world where it's easy to believe that almost anything might happen. One is London, and Neil Gaiman and China Mieville can tell you all about what happens there. The other is Los Angeles (with Las Vegas, perhaps, as a distant psychic suburb), and Tim Powers (who lives in Orange County) is its resident expert. To anyone who knows the City of Angels, it doesn't seem that farfetched to be told that most of its wandering street people are actually solidified ghosts, too crazed to know they're dead. And there are ghost-sensitives, like Pete Sullivan, twin of the late Sukie, son of A.P. (now a ghost himself, in the ocean off Venice Beach), and itinerant electrician who is finally returning to L.A. after having fled the place six Halloweens before. And like Dr. Elizabeth Elizalde, whose therapeutic séances got out of hand and caused one of her patients to explode, but who has access to the vast ghost-related folklore of the Hispanic community. And like a number of local connoisseurs who capture and "eat" ghosts by inhaling them, including Loretta deLarava, for whom the Sullivan twins used to work as stage hands and ghost-bait. Harry Houdini, it turns out, was a prominent sensitive who knew how to protect himself and managed not to be captured when he died -- unlike Thomas Edison, whose last breath was bottled by his friend, Henry Ford, and who therefore never dissipated. Edison is key to the story, in fact, when he becomes, . . . let us say, closely associated with eleven-year-old Kootie Parganas, who witnesses the torture-murder of his parents after he steals the old inventor's ghost and subsequently goes on the run. Edison is the great prize of the season, and Kootie's got him, and everyone wants him -- and they don't care how they get him.Read more ›
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on April 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 Powers book is a cause for celebration of his writing genius. This time folks seemed unsure. I can see why, this is his longest book by this point as far as I know (Earthquake Weather, the sequel, might be longer, I can't remember, not having it) and I think his typical ultracomplicated plotting can wear thin over the course of five hundred pages when maybe four hundred isn't so bad. But with a premise like this I just couldn't resist: Los Angeles in the present day (1995) is home to ghosts and ghost hunters and people addicted to ghosts and basically the plot centers around a boy who has accidentally inhaled the last breath of Thomas Edison and now everyone is looking for him because Edison was such a powerful figure in life that his ghost hasn't diminished a bit. The twists and turns of the plot are left for the reader to discover but rest assured this is a book that commands patience. For those who like instant thrills, there are those here, Powers still has his ability with words and he strings along a bunch of cool moments together enough time to make this into a near page turner. But it's not totally addictive as his other books are, you finish it because you want to know what's going to happen and he has you really interested but it's not "bring your flashlight under the pillow to read it after bedtime" material. Indeed, this is probably not for the Tim Powers novice, those would probably be better off cutting their teeth on the Anubis Gates or Last Call (both highly recommended) but when they're done with those and want more they should come here for more of his utterly unique take on fantasy. No elves and forests here, this is urban fantasy.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I expected to be stunned by Expiration Date, much as I was by Powers' previous novel, Last Call. Oh, sure, I knew it would take me a little while to get into it, to warm up to the characters, to comprehend the kinds of plot twists and turns that functioned so perfectly in Last Call. When I read Last Call, Powers' tour de force spanning tarot cards, Las Vegas and the Fisher King, I felt like I'd lived with its characters, and I understood their motivations and actions.
I was stunned all right, but not in a good way. Expiration Date left me cold. Instead of relying on a mythology with a deep and complex foundation, as Last Call does, Expiration Date makes use of what amounts to an old wives' tale--the idea that people can eat the ghosts of others to rejuvenate themselves. Powers' technical expertise and thorough research helps to make up for this flimsy premise. In the end, though, I realized I just didn't buy what he was selling.
This may have as much to do with the way Powers portrays the characters in Expiration Date as with the unwieldy situations in which he places them. I found the characterizations flat and slippery, much like the giant dead fish that washes up on Venice Beach towards the middle of the novel. The novel's young hero, Kootie, reads like the kind of Generic Kid character that I expect to see in a Michael Crichton novel. Then there's the inexplicable romance that occurs between the two adult protagonists. The basis for their relationship seems to be a shared ability to detect the presence of ghosts, which is not something that bespeaks true love to me.
Perhaps most disappointing is the way Powers develops the ghost of Thomas Edison, who inhabits Kootie's mind for about two-thirds of the story.
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