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Expiration Date (Fault Lines #2)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  2,031 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Los Angeles is filled with ghosts -- and half-ghosts, and ghost hunters, and ghost junkies -- chasing each other in a mad quest for immortality. As a series of disasters strikes Los Angeles, a young boy inhales the last breath of Thomas Edison, and becomes a precious prize in a deadly hunt for the elusive vital spark. Brimming with the wild imagination and heart-stopping
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 20th 2007 by Orb Books (first published 1995)
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Nov 29, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
Recommended to Erin by: SarahQ
I liked this, but not as much as Last Call. It took a little too long to get into the action of the story, there were too many narrators at the beginning (a few of which we never hear from again) and I felt that it didn't gel as a story until well after page 100 or so. That's a lot of pages for a reader to be wondering "I'm not exactly sure what's going on here and how it relates to the other threads of the story being told." Powers does a lot of the old "write about something that your readers ...more
Mar 20, 2008 Jacob rated it it was amazing
If Atwood was ghost writing Pynchon and they managed to get William Gibson as their editor, then maybe, just maybe, there would be another book as uncannily brilliant as this.

One could list the topics (life, death and afterlife; recreational drug culture; mercenary telephone exchange operators; palindromes; Thomas Alva Edison's lost years and peculiar relationship with Henry Ford; the time-space continuum; Harry Houdini and more), or observe that it has provided a reading of Carrol's Alice book
Jun 09, 2008 Danica rated it it was ok
Somehow manages to be expertly written yet completely unengaging at the same time? Points for the creativity and vivacity of the language, but minus 100000 for glacial plot movement and the endless carousel of superficially-quirky-but-actually-cookie-cutter characters, most of whom I couldn't bring myself to give two hoots about. Plus, the whole "thomas edison's ghost is on the loose and spiritually piggybacking a prepubescent boy and all the ghost junkies wanna piece of him! OH LOOK RANDOM ACTS ...more
Andy Goldman
Whew. That was a tougher read for me. Maybe I wasn't mentally focused enough for it, because I had a hell of a time keeping all the characters in place in the beginning of the book. I stuck with it because I trust in Powers' writing, but it wasn't until about 300 pages in that the book finally had me hooked and I was swept along for the rest of the way. I'd probably appreciate this one more on a second read than I did this first time around.
Jun 03, 2016 Johnny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Tim Powers is one of the most creative writers of modern fantasy that I have ever read. Expiration Date touches on so many original ideas that it is hard to describe them without giving away spoilers. Powers has created his own pneumatology in terms of ghosts, undead (I know they aren’t “spirits,” but they are supernatural), and existence beyond material life. Imagine a capitalistic economy based on ghosts but handled much like drug deals of the present day. That is the crux of this novel. And, ...more
Greg Zink
I tried to like this book, I really did. It seemed to have all sorts of things going for it that I usually like - strange supernatural/fantasy events taking place within the ordinary real world, and a bunch of different story threads that eventually tie together into a cohesive tale. Both of those usually lend themselves to books that I enjoy, but I think both of them were a little overdone in this case. After a while I started to get frustrated, and I decided it just wasn't worth sticking it ou ...more
Melissa McShane
I love Tim Powers' novels, and what I love about this one is the intersection of Thomas Edison's life with the secret world of ghost-hunters. This book is far too complicated to summarize in a few words, or even more than a few, but the core of the story is that a boy with the unfortunate name of Koot Hoomie Parganas has accidentally freed the ghost of Thomas Edison, and several people want to kill him and consume Edison's ghost. That's right, consume; in this secret history, ghosts can be eaten ...more
Jan 04, 2017 William rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Tim Powers is one of my favorite writers, but EXPIRATION DATE isn't among my favorite of his books.

I've started and stopped it several times in the past, but this time I have the next in the loose series, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER to read and I was determined to push through and get to the end. But to be honest, I found it a bit of a slog.

It's as well written as any of Powers' books, but I don't think the central idea of ghosts being able to be caught and sniffed as a kind of psychic cocaine is strong
Jul 15, 2007 Angela rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
I found it really hard to actually care about the fate of any of these characters. Not sure why - maybe it was because it seemed like any one of them could die (or something equivalent for the ones that were already dead), any moment. So I didn't want to invest any feelings towards any of them.

The world Tim Powers created was certainly interesting, and I liked how it was fed to the reader in bits and pieces. I didn't like how it seemed every time you were given enough clues to piece together so
Mar 07, 2015 Conor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
I'm going to have to agree with one of my buddies on this one.

He said
Having recently read "On Stranger Tides" this one suffers by comparison. I like its hallucinatory quality and the writing is interesting, but it felt flabby and weak compared to his previous effort "Last Call."

I like it and I would recommend it, but it isn't Powers' best.

I haven't read "On Stranger Tides" but this one was just OK compared to Last Call, which I've read about four times, and loaned with care to people I know wo
Lynne Collins
Jun 02, 2010 Lynne Collins is currently reading it
Doh! I read the first, and then the third in the Trilogy (dang ex-hub steering me wrong! but Right in the first place). Now, I am reading the second. Powers is muy lyrical, complex, mystical, and intense. Good stuff.
Nov 22, 2016 Natalie rated it it was amazing
So freaking good!
Dec 02, 2016 Joe rated it it was ok
Loved the atmosphere of Southern California but the story line just did not do it for me a real struggle to finish.
Theoretically, "Expiration Date" is the second book in Tim Powers' "Fault Lines" series. I have no idea why. Nothing carries over from the first book: no characters, no events, no locations (except for the broad location of Los Angeles). Heck, even the mythos is different: this book revolves around plain old ghosts, whereas "Last Call" revolves around the Fisher King and avatars of the Major Arcana from the Tarots. At this point, I'm assuming that this is the sequel to "Last Call" solely because ...more
Steve Cotterill
Apr 25, 2016 Steve Cotterill rated it really liked it
Tim Powers' Expiration Date is one of those books that's sat on the shelf unread and unlooked at for years. I read it really because I realised that it was a sequel to the wonderful Last Call, a novel about magic, poker, and mystery in the city of Las Vegas. The meat of the book concerns ghosts, and as you might expect from one of Powers' novels, these are not handled in a straightforward fashion. Instead, they are remnants, shuffling about and confused by things like palindromes, They light up ...more
Victoria Radford
Oh, Tim Powers. You're so very, very clever. And yet something, somewhere is missing in this book. The blurb on the back of the book jacket describes the author as "the astonishingly popular Tim Powers", and in this book at least, I am astonished as to his popularity too. I cannot make my mind up about Powers'work. On Stranger Tideswas a rip-roaring success, The Anubis Gateswas the most human, relateable and interesting of his works I've read so far,The Stress of Her Regard had so many amazing i ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
Tim Powers is one of the reasons that I had so much trouble in college. It was his On Stranger Tides that distracted me from at least a complete day of classes. I remember reading On Stranger Tides quite vividly, spending an 8 hour stretch curled up in a chair in the graduate library of the University of Texas, vicariously living the life of a pirate. Most of Powers' other novels have had the same hold on me, with the possible exception of The Stress of Her Regard, which I found somewhat slow an ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Punk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
SF. Classic Tim Powers. He takes the world we're familiar with, in this case Los Angeles in the early 90s, adds in some speculation, some science, and even a little fantasy, and suddenly you've got an L.A. filled with ghosts. Some people can see these ghosts, some people hunt them down and suck them up to gain their energy, some people kill for them.

That sounded like the back of a book jacket. Moving on! Enter the ghost of Thomas Alva Edison, 61 years dead, incredibly powerful, and newly release
Ken Ringwald
Jan 26, 2016 Ken Ringwald rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. I loved this book and almost wanted to slow down at the end, because I didn't want it to be over. But I also wanted to know what happened and so read the last 150 pages all at once.

This is a very strange novel, but it works in a tremendous amount of history and place. The setting (1992 Los Angeles) feels somewhat more distant now than when it was written, but it works very well. The characters are strange and each have their own specific faults. While I also really enjoyed "On Strange
Mar 10, 2015 Harris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

On the mean, gritty streets of early ‘90s Los Angeles, a city still reeling from the LA Riots, under the glamour of the Hollywood Sign, weirder things are stirring; the city’s many ghosts, and those that prey on them. Soon, a large, and bizarre, cast find themselves converging in the City of Angels as the bottled ghost of Thomas Alva Edison resurfaces and everyone wants to be the one to grab him first. Not unlike other dealers in secret goods, the ghost hunters of LA do not play nicely and
Beth Rosen
Nov 25, 2013 Beth Rosen rated it really liked it
This book was a lot of fun - ghost-inhaling junkies looking for eternal life buy ghosts from organized crime syndicate. It is set in a world where nobody believes in ghosts & any ghost evidence is ignored/denied much as it is in our world. I liked the main characters & thought that the whole thing held together well. For me the only problem was the beginning. I generally don't like books that start off with alternating narrative stream from different characters who have nothing to do wit ...more
Kirk Macleod
Feb 22, 2016 Kirk Macleod rated it liked it
The second in Tim Powers "Fault Lines" series, following Last Call, Expiration Date (1995), focuses on ghosts and the effect they have on those they leave behind. As with Last Call, the book follows a number of characters connected to the fantastic conceit of the novel (the devouring of ghosts by the living, rather than spells that can be cast using playing cards, which was the conceit behind Last Call), including a ten-year-old orphaned (sorry for the 21-year-old spoiler) in the first chapter, ...more
Pamela Lloyd
Jul 11, 2008 Pamela Lloyd rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Of the three books in the Fault Lines trilogy, I think this is the strongest. It's hard hitting and not for those with weak stomachs, but his primary viewpoint characters are sympathetic and believable.

One of the things I've noticed about his works is the way they draw on real-world facts (generally about various famous people, but also scientific news items and other things we see as true) to strengthen the sense of reality about everything we read in his books. For example, much of what he say
Jul 15, 2011 Shmarya rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Another thoroughly underwhelming showing from Tim Powers. A real pity. The core concept is both interesting and sustainable, much the same as that of Last Call was, but the entirety of the package is far from satisfying.

Though Powers has an undoubtable hand for descriptive writing, and a stock of interesting and clever stories to work with, he seems incapable of satisfactorily pulling it off. Both this novel and Last Call would have been far more successful as novellas or even short-stories. As
Nov 10, 2010 P.J. rated it did not like it
Shelves: stopped-reading
Terrible. I give each book a minimum of 100 pages. This one made it no further. It sounded like a good premise, but in reading, I wondered if it would ever get there. I had no clue what was going on or where the book was going by the 100th page.

The characters are all interesting and not completely flat. 10 year old Koot is very 10. The evil characters are very evil. The electrician guy seems interesting.

However, none of that was worth continuing on in a plot that wasn't interesting. I read the b
Apr 26, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I'd read this before, but it got misshelved among some new acquisitions, so I picked it up again, and was 50 or so pages in before I remembered it. I decided to finish it again anyway, because at that point I was hooked.

This is a great urban fantasy, set mostly in a Los Angeles only slightly different from our own - that might be our own if only we noticed a few secret truths. Ghosts roam the streets, some powerful and aware, others mindless and just barely held together, while people hunt, cap
Amanda Pants
May 16, 2011 Amanda Pants rated it liked it
8/14/11 update: I'm only on page 47. You know me - I read incredibly quickly, so this is very unusual given that I've been working on this thing for almost two weeks now. I'm just having a difficult time getting into the story so far. Not that it isn't interesting... it just isn't quite compelling yet. Tim Powers is a strong writer, and I know he won't disappoint, but still. Meh. Also, just a minor annoyance - the main character complains that everyone calls him by this awful nickname Kootie, bu ...more
Jan 29, 2008 zeb rated it really liked it
Another Tim Powers book, expanding his own weird little genre. Most alternate history consists of plucking a gem from history and fitting it into another setting. "Hey, Al Capone's fighting Nazis!" Tim Powers finds baroque pearls in the ocean of history, and strings them into dark and terrible necklaces, looped with unsettling twists and coils. It's not the juxtaposition of the historical elements that's interesting, instead it's the thread that links them together.

Allusive asides and hints abou
Dec 13, 2008 martha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre, 2009
So this turned out to be an interesting and gritty piece of urban fantasy -- it took me forever to get to that point, though, since the book started in a way that I personally hate, jumping from unrelated character to unrelated character without explaining their connection to the plot, or even the rules of this universe. As it is, I felt like things only started to come into focus and really pick up halfway through, and the fact that the climax of the entire book was in the epilogue was totally ...more
David H
Jun 29, 2013 David H rated it it was ok
This was hard work and it has taken me months to read - I should have just given up on it after the first 100 odd pages. Having liked Last Call, I was determined to press on with this odd story and it was not really worth my time. The story takes a very long time to get going and is narrated by several different characters - a bit all over the place. It kind of comes together at the end and the pace and interest level picked up a bit, but I have to say that I really did not enjoy this book and I ...more
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Timothy Thomas Powers 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.

Most of Powers's 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 a
More about Tim Powers...

Other Books in the Series

Fault Lines (3 books)
  • Last Call (Fault Lines, #1)
  • Earthquake Weather (Fault Lines, #3)

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“The other suicide had been the actress Clara Blandick, who, one day in 1962, had got her hair fixed up and had carefully done her makeup and put on a formal gown and then pulled a plastic bag over her head and smothered herself. She was chiefly remembered for having played Auntie Em in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz.” 2 likes
“A kid just couldn’t see the difference. It was like being color-blind or something, or preferring Frazetta to all those blobby old paintings of haystacks and French people in rowboats.” 1 likes
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