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The Anubis Gates
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Book Club Discussions > THE ANUBIS GATES: General Discussion

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message 1: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Apr 02, 2012 12:44PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Our group read for April 2012 is The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. Please use the spoiler html tags () to hide key plot points that may ruin the story for those who are not as far along in their reading.

About the Book
The Anubis Gates (1983) is a time travel fantasy novel by Tim Powers. It won the 1983 Philip K. Dick Award and 1984 Science Fiction Chronicle Award. Brendan Doyle, a specialist in the work of the early-nineteenth century poet William Ashbless, reluctantly accepts an invitation from a millionaire to act as a guide to time-travelling tourists. But while attending a lecture given by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1810, he becomes marooned in Regency London, where dark and dangerous forces know about the gates in time. Caught up in the intrigue between rival bands of beggars, pursued by Egyptian sorcerers, befriended by Coleridge, Doyle somehow survives. And learns more about the mysterious Ashbless than he could ever have imagined possible.

About the Author
Timothy Thomas "Tim" Powers (born February 29, 1952, in Buffalo, New York) 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. His 1988 novel On Stranger Tides was optioned for adaptation into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. 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 and actions of the characters. Typically, Powers strictly adheres to established historical facts.


Heather | 252 comments Score! I found the book in my neighborhood used book store for $3.38. will start in on it tonight.


Amanda (pinktulip) | 11 comments I just got it from the library.. :) Very hard to find used here!


K55f | 29 comments I'll start by saying that Tim Powers is one of my favorite authors of all time-and I've read a LOT of SF & F over the last 45 years.

So, I re-read Anubis Gates this last weekend, it had been a long time, and I had forgotten a lot of it, so it was like reading it for the first time.

The mixing of science and magic was great-I imagine that the underpinnings of the universe work as described in this book...string theory has nothing on Tim Powers.
The only complaint that I have is that occasionally the cross-narrative lost me for a page or two until I twigged to the changes.
I'm going to re-read Declare next week to see if I still believe that it is the greatest modern novel. Mr. Powers has sharpened Occam's Razor to a hitherto undreamed of edge and scraped clean (flayed) the face of the universe.


Ken | 9 comments Just finished last night. It's my first Tim Powers book so I need to absorb a little bit yet, but my take-away first thought is that the author joined in on the laudanum for the last 1/3 of the book. Too many threads without enough to tie them together.


message 6: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Apr 09, 2012 08:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I'm at the halfway point in this book, and I'm enjoying it so far. I like the fact that the author does not overdo the historical facts to the point that it reads more like a wikipedia entry. Those who read our previous book club selection "Up the Line" know what I'm talking about. While there is a lot of history in this book, I think Tim Powers does a good job of making it an integral part of the story.

As K55f mentioned above, I also like the mix of science and magic although I kept thinking the magic would actually be science that was misunderstood by a more archaic and uneducated society. But it appears to be actual magic, which I suppose is not much of a stretch from believing in time travel.

I do have one question for those who have reached the end of part one. (view spoiler)


Andy Taylor (SooGuy) | 85 comments I haven't read this book in probably 20 years, but would love to dive into again. I recall enjoying it a lot the first time around. I will have dig out my edition from my collection (I never giveaway a time travel book!)


message 8: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
Is it just me, or is this a hard book to get into? There's something about the author's writing style that is making me have to re-read and re-read to try to catch his meaning.


message 9: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Amy,

I'm actually enjoying the book. However, I will admit that the second half of the book is a little more of a chore. What I had a hard time with at first was the constantly changing perspective. It was not real clear when he would switch from what Doyle was doing to what Doctor Romany was doing. Perhaps some shoter chapters might have helped in this regard.


message 10: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Apr 17, 2012 06:06AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Okay, in order to get the ball rolling on our discussion of this month's book, I thought I would pose a few questions. Please feel free to address other topics not addressed in these questions.

1) Some people have already commented on the mix of science fiction and magic in this book. What do you think about the prevalence of magic in this story? Would you classify this book as science fiction or fantasy?

2) Since Doyle copied "The Twelve Hours of the Night" from memory, who actually wrote it? In other words, where did the poem originate from? Are you happy with the explanation given in the book?

3) What do you think of Tim Powers' writing style? Do you think you will be inclined to read other books by this author?


Heather | 252 comments I had a hard time getting into the book at first, but now I am in definite "can't put it down mode" (Chapter 7)


message 12: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
I felt that the introduction was poorly-written, but it's definitely picking up some speed now. Thank goodness!


message 13: by Tej (last edited Apr 21, 2012 03:16AM) (new) - added it

Tej (TheyCallMeMrGlass) | 1350 comments First of all I'm relieved to finally read a book that is not from the first person perspective which I generally have a dislike for. I think I know where Amy is coming from with the beginning chapters, it is doing a bit of a bizarre to and fro narrative ("Lost" style) which I feel is needless but since this is written 1983, it must have been quite radical at the time. I wonder what were the first novels to use this "flashback" style narrative? But I am enjoying it, there some nice wry humour in it too and I kinda like the hapless Doyle.

I wont answer John's 2nd question yet as I havent got far enough to make sense of it!

1) I think its more of a sorcery novel with just a flimsy hint of trying to connect it with science. I dont mind either way as long it entertains and for the sake of this book club, that it has time travel!

3) I think Tim Powers has a nice touch of humour, he seems experimental in his narrative structure but so far I am actually enjoying the book.

My answers might change though as I continue reading.


message 14: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Question number two should make more sense by the end of Chapter Seven. The explanation given by the author comes in Chapter 10. It's just one of those paradoxes that I so love to debate.


Timday | 3 comments oh this book made me want to walk the streets and drink beer. I think this is one of the heaviest drinking books i have ever read. got some money lets drink :) hehhe
one coin left oh i will have adrink


Timday | 3 comments to message 10 by john it is almost the classic argument in post apoc. with the stand and swan song. I am all for the magic


Corrie (corbear) | 33 comments So I am about half-way through the book and am totally digging it so far. I am wondering, though, how integral to the story the magic is. I guess it was a bit of magic that created the gaps in the first place, but what about the rest? The Spoonsize Boys? Are they necessary? I think I would prefer the story without the magic...


message 18: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
Corrie wrote: "I think I would prefer the story without the magic..."

I agree. So far, it's really not seemed that necessary ... the Spoonsized Boys, Punch and Judy, etc. Then again, I have a hard time getting interested in any book that features magic, so I may not be the correct one to comment.


message 19: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited Apr 25, 2012 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Well, I finally finished the book last night. First let me say that I have enjoyed being a part of this book club because it has exposed me to some books that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. This book definitely fits within that category.

At times, I found this book to be very entertaining. At other times I found it to be perplexing. Trying to keep track of who was who made my head spin. Frankly, I could have done without the heavy emphasis on magic in this book. I much prefer time travel stories that are rooted in science rather than magic.

To answer my own questions, I'm not sure how I would classify this book. Perhaps something in between science fiction and fantasy... we can call it "science fantasy." As for the origin of the Ahbless poem (actually for all of his writings), I'm not satisfied with the explanation given in the book. That kind of circular logic seems like a cop out to me. And finally, if Tim Powers' other books are anything like this one I would not likely read anything else by this author. While I liked this book, some parts were very confusing which made it too much of a chore to read.


Corrie (corbear) | 33 comments Well, this book is really losing me in the second half. Chapter 9 in particular was an incoherent mess. Seems like the entire Byron subplot could have been dropped, no?


message 21: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I suspect that whole subplot was to help explain the idea of the "ka" (or what we would call a clone) in a little more detail, which will come up again later in the book.


message 22: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
Several pages after it happened, I realized that Doyle must have time traveled backward into the past. The actual act of time traveling shouldn't be so vague as to have you reading backward trying to figure out which paragraph, pages ago, vaguely insinuated that Doyle was randomly hurtled back in time.

The author is losing me more and more as the book progresses. I'm finding it a challenge to figure out the meanings of the vague magical bits. For example, why is having a shoe with a chain dragging the ground causing an imperviousness to magical evildoings?


Corrie (corbear) | 33 comments So that was a disappointment. I pretty much agree with the sentiments expressed here. I really enjoyed the first half but the second half was a chore. The narrative was choppy and all over the place. There is a great book in there somewhere, but it got bogged down in a bunch of unnecessary subplots and nonsensical magic. I think if the Byron subplot was dropped, as well as the trip to Cairo (what was the point of that?), and the story focused more on Darrow's and Jacky's goals, then it would have been a solid 4-star book for me.

I do have one other book by Tim Powers that I own and want to read - The Stress of Her Regard (I'm a sucker for stories about the Romantic poets). I'm hoping that one will be better. If not, I probably won't read anything else by the author.


message 24: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
At 61%, I think I may officially give up on this book. There's not any plot going on that I am curious about seeing through to the end. I think this may be one of the book's major flaws. If I left the book behind today, I really think my life will be better for having never read the book through to the end.


message 25: by John, Moderator in Memory (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
Read the plot summary on wikipedia and it will tell you how it ends, which I found kind of interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anub...


Heather | 252 comments I am not quite finished the book yet-hopefully tonight- I feel there is so much to still wrap up in the story that it can't possibly be done in the few pages I have left! If it is all left hanging, I will not be happy


message 27: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited May 02, 2012 08:23AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
I truly wish the person who wrote the plot on Wikipedia had written the actual book. It's definitely an interesting ending, but I'm glad I reached it that way rather than through the murky writings of our dear Mr. Powers.

The Ashbless thread of the novel, I thought, was fairly predictable ... until the surprise ending.

Following the William Ashbless link in Wikipedia is fairly interesting, though. Apparently, when Tim Powers was in college, he and his friend James Blaylock used to submit horrible, nonsensical poetry in the name of William Ashbless to make fun of the poor quality of poetry that was being accepted by the school magazine (sounds like something my best friend in high school and I would have done). The poetry was wildly popular. Then, a decade later, each of the 2 friends wrote novels in which they featured William Ashbless as a character. Neither of the 2 friends knew the other friend was writing Ashbless into a novel. Their editor noticed it and suggested that they make sure Ashbless' story was consistent. To further bring Ashbless to life, the 2 later published The Twelve Hours of Night as well as a few other items (poetry, pirates, cookbooks, etc.).

I have to say that knowing the silly history of Ashbless enamors me more to the author than The Anubis Gates did.

Works "by" William Ashbless:
*The William Ashbless Memorial Cookbook
*On Pirates
*Pilot Light
*Offering the Bicentennial Edition of The Complete Twelve Hours of the Night, Celebrating the 200 Anniversary of the Birth of William Ashbless, 1785-1985
*A Short Poem by William Ashbless

Some of the poetry attributed to Ashbless in Powers' books can be found here.


message 28: by John, Moderator in Memory (last edited May 02, 2012 05:29PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John | 834 comments Mod
I found that Wikipedia entry on Ashbless early in my reading because I assumed he was real and I wanted to see how true the author was to history. I was kind of disappointed to learn he wasn't real, but it did make the story more interesting.


Corrie (corbear) | 33 comments John wrote: "I found that Wikipedia entry on Ashbless early in my reading because I assumed he was real and I wanted to see how true the author was to history. I was kind of disappointed to learn he wasn't rea..."

Same here. I practically live on that site, especially when reading a book or watching a movie with any historical events/people in them. I will even stop a movie in the middle to look stuff up. Only when watching solo, of course. :-)


message 30: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
I tend to avoid Wikipedia until AFTER I've read a book or watched a movie. I don't want any spoilers.


Corrie (corbear) | 33 comments I do that too, as a rule. I guess I should have clarified that what I look up is the historical events and/or people that the book/movie is about and avoid the pages for the book and/or movie itself.


Mirvan  Ereon (mirvanereon) | 7 comments This looks so good! Where can I find copies of this? I wanna join the discussion too if you people would let me =P


message 33: by Amy, Queen of Time (last edited May 03, 2012 09:11AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
R.A. wrote: "This looks so good! Where can I find copies of this? I wanna join the discussion too if you people would let me =P"

You can join any of the discussions at any time ... even after our main reading period has ended. I got a Kindle copy from amazon.com. I think amazon or your local used bookstore is probably going to be your best bet for finding the book since it came out in 1984. Link


Heather | 252 comments I finished the book last night. Glad I stuck it out. I did like the book, did not love it. I have to admit while reading it, I thought Ashbless was a real person.
I think this is one of those books I will think of fondly once I am finished reading it, even though I struggled while actually reading it.

I like the premise of the storyline and (view spoiler) intrigued me


message 35: by Amy, Queen of Time (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 1663 comments Mod
Funny. I assumed Ashbless was a fictional character from beginning. Surely we would have heard of a poet who mysteriously disappeared and was seen chasing apes. Right?


Heather | 252 comments Amy wrote: "Funny. I assumed Ashbless was a fictional character from beginning. Surely we would have heard of a poet who mysteriously disappeared and was seen chasing apes. Right?"

Giggle-Well when you put it that way!


Tej (TheyCallMeMrGlass) | 1350 comments I feel embarrassed to say I've abandoned this book and have already started reading the next BOM. Even more ashamedly I couldnt resist reading the wiki, John posted . Now I regret not finishing it. Serves me right. I must have a stronger resolve and more patience :(


Current Theatrics | 2 comments Hi! I've just adapted this novel into a play that's going to be staged in August 2014. As we rehearse, I just want to hear what other readers have to say about the book. Favourite characters, moments that were memorable, etc. AND ESPECIALLY FOR THIS TIME TRAVEL GROUP: what are some ways you saw the tachyon time travel process occurring? We're still blocking that--maybe your way would get into the play (with a thanks in the programme of course!)


message 39: by Current (last edited Mar 26, 2014 03:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Current Theatrics | 2 comments this was supposed to be a reply to: K55f Apr 09, 2012 10:16AM but I can't figure out how to do it! Sorry folks! I'll get it right

at K55f, Declare is my all-time favourite novel too! But I gotta say, adapting Anubis Gates is making me fall in love with it all over the place. Once you re-read both, how did you feel about Declare?


message 40: by MK (last edited Mar 26, 2014 03:50PM) (new) - added it

MK (wisny) | 188 comments Current wrote: "this was supposed to be a reply to: K55f Apr 09, 2012 10:16AM but I can't figure out how to do it! Sorry folks! I'll get it right..."

If you're on the app, it doesn't show as an option, but if you're using a browser, you click on the 'reply' link, in the bottom right corner of the post, and it quotes the first bit of the post for you :)


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The Anubis Gates (other topics)
The Stress of Her Regard (other topics)