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Salvage and Demolition

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  816 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Salvage and Demolition, the astonishing new 21,000 word novella by Tim Powers, begins when Richard Blanzac, a San Francisco-based rare book dealer, opens a box of consignment items and encounters the unexpected. There, among an assortment of literary rarities, he discovers a manuscript in verse, an Ace Double Novel, and a scattering of very old cigarette butts. These commo ...more
Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Subterranean Press
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  816 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of you who have never tried reading Tim Powers you could pick a worse place to start than this story.

It's just a short work, about 21,000 words. And because of that, it's less complex and intricate than his longer books, but I think it gives a good taste of his style.

If you'd rather jump in with both feet and read some of his best stuff, you might want to try Declare or Last Call instead. They're brilliant works that I've been meaning to re-read for some time.

But as I've said, if you'
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books, fantasy, mythology
Cool plot concept, liked the lit nerdiness and the art panels. I think it could have used a little more development, especially of the villains: they were awfully determined and active for random fellows whose motive is simply (view spoiler).

I didn't feel that the writing was as good as the prior Powers I'd read, but it had been years, maybe I'm just pickier.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now lets see how well this works as I am typing this up on an aging laptop while I try and find a somewhere that is cool enough for me to think

So what do you do when its too hot to concentrate on a book and you are feeling ill, simply (or at least in my case simple) find something else to read that is not so mentally demanding. Enter the latest Tim Powers novella (okay chapbook is anyone recognises the name). This time we are weighing in at 172 pages - so not exactly a heavy read and certainly n
Bryan Alexander
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, gender
I freely admit to two biases in reviewing Salvage and Demolition, and both come from years of working in a used book shop. The first is a fondness for that trade, the arcana of dust jackets and dusty paperbacks, sifting through collections and sharing the love of precious books.

The second is due to being a longtime Powers fan. Around 1987 I started with The Anubis Gates, one of the best time travel yarns of all time, and a copy of which I treasure, having been rebound specially for me by a gifte
Amal El-Mohtar
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I really enjoyed this! I read it in a sitting, and found myself marvelling at the structure -- like a Penn & Teller show, it manages to tell you everything there is to know about the trick involved while skillfully performing the mystery. It's a very dextrous novella, which, for all that it retreads some old ground for Powers -- poetry-magic, rare book dealers, and time travel shenanigans -- does it so well and so enjoyably that I was totally captivated. ...more
Kat  Hooper
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted at Fanlit.

Richard Blanzac is a 40-year-old rare books dealer in San Francisco. While examining the contents of a few old boxes someone brought in, he discovers a manuscript with some poetry written by a little known San Francisco Beat poet named Sophie Greenwald who died in 1969. Shortly after, he is summoned to the bedside of an old lady in a nursing home. She’s the executor of the poet’s estate and insists that Richard burn the manuscri
Julie Davis
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a long short story but, as one might expect from Tim Powers, it is packed full of food for thought. Oh, and it's an interesting time travel story where anonymous men with guns hunt for a translation that may have unexpected powers. That's why you read it. For the story which is arresting. The food for thought is extra.
Kyle Muntz
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this a lot. It's very Hollywood in some ways--with its relentless pace, secret societies, conspiracy theories, and deterministic treatment of time travel--but I liked how quick and engaging the story felt. It's a very simple story, but it makes me curious to check out The Anubis Gates, which sounds much more complex, and I really enjoyed the hour or so I spent reading this.
David Schwan
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice, concisely written novella. Has elements of a gritty 1950's pot boiler detective story set in San Francisco. The central object of the story is the translation of a mystical manuscript. Too hard to say much more here without giving away secrets, and the secrets are the star of this story.
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
A good story involving time-travel that, as far as I can tell, makes sense (and coherently illustrates a couple of the possibilities allowed by David Lewis's model of time travel).
Nov 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So most of it was executed really well and was sort of a science-fiction time-traveling story where the guy meets the girl at several points, but backwards in sequence for him while forwards for her. The symmetry and the interaction was enjoyable. But then the love interest just seemed far too cavalier to be meaningful and the resolution (while indeed a resolution) wasn't the best payoff for the build-up. Not a bad read though.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2016, e-book
Tim Powers! This is one of my favorite authors. I don't follow him on the same level as I do Neil Gaiman or Stephen King, but whenever he has a new book come out, I pay attention. I found Salvage and Demolition on sale and added it to my Kindle collection. When I found myself killing time before a meeting, I pulled this up and started reading. Just a few hours later, I finished it. (And yes, I did make it to the meeting.)

The story is about Richard Blanzac, a rare book dealer who is given a box o
Apr 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With all the jumping between locations and times that happen in this story it is difficult to be sure which, if any, is the true timeline. The manuscript at the centre of the novella appears to have mystical powers, affecting all associated with it. To some it is evil, to others it is the answer to their dreams, to Richard Blanzac, the central character, it is a literary curiosity that could be worth publishing. Has the manuscript really been destroyed or not? If not, what will happen if it is f ...more
Jeff Raymond
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sci-fi
In Salvage and Demolition, our protagonist comes upon a lost manuscript and is quickly transported through time as a number of interested parties have different plans for the manuscript and push and pull against everything as a result.

The book sounds more confusing than it is, but this quick novella really does a good job balancing the science fictional time travel with a discovery/mystery/thriller angle that made for a fast and fun read.

Nothing you need to think too hard about, but it was a pre
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a Tim Powers book, so to review it by stating plot would be to court spoilers. So instead I'll just list a few of the plot's elements that struck me, that made me smile. A suicidal ancient god, a lost manuscript from a forgotten Beat poet, a nihilistic cult, time travel and the truth of Chatterton's madness. It contains all of that, but in the end, it's a love story, and like the best of them, it's exhilarating and sad, simultaneously. Recommended.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013, e-books
4.5 Stars

This is a fun and well written novella by Tim Powers. It plays out like a disjointed mystery novel with a touch of science fiction in it. I enjoyed it and can accept how Richard and Susan would have felt drawn to each other. This is a short read that most readers could find something that they liked about it. Perfect for an afternoon read in the shade.
Edward Rathke
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very fun little book that only takes about 90 minutes to read. Maybe not even that long.

It has time travel, love, and a pretty fast paced narrative. It's basically a mystical thriller.

Not a lot to say. This is the first thing I've read by Powers and I think it's a perfect way to meet an author: reading one of their novellas.
William Fuentes
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable time travel novella that has got me ready to read Anubis Gates!
Ken Feucht
Aug 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far the best time-travel-occult-romance-noir novella I've ever read.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
quite nice. and reminds me that maybe I can still write something.
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
This was a fairly random grab from the local library. I am trying to flesh out the breadth of my science fiction experience. Being a novella with some positive reviews made it an accessible addition.

Powers depicts a concise time travel rather successfully within the scope of 155 pages while allowing for some limited character development. As described on the book jacket there is a bit of a love story compounded with a sci-fi thriller.

I think my only contention is that, as this book is a novella
Andrew Diamond
This short novella is a quick read, and I think sci-fi fans will really enjoy it. I normally read in other genres, and look for good character development, along with social and psychological insight. That's not what the author was aiming for with this book. This is more of a mind-bending tale of time travel, with a focus on our perception of time and how logic and reason depend on the assumption that time moves in one direction. The most interesting thing about this book is that the sequence of ...more
Stephen Dorneman
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light work for this author (who I love). The novella still showcases Powers's amazing alternate-world-building, mixing supernatural elements with extremely well-researched actual history, has interesting characters and a potentially world-shattering conflict, but in this case it's all wrapped around a star-crossed (well, time-crossed) romance and the resolution is never really in doubt. I did wish he could have thrown in at even some mumbo-jumbo explanation for why the protagonist travels thro ...more
Gereg Jones
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Time travel at its twistiest

Powers always delivers a tight tangled plot, and this short piece delivers one that plenty of authors would have sounds into a full novel. To say much of anything would be spoiling the surprises that start immediately. So ignoring the finely drawn cast of characters, the rainswept picture of San Francisco in 1957 that has you (like our hero) smelling the raindrops, and the quiet hints of an elder pantheon that leave Cthulhu and his buds looking downright beneficent by
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-5, sf, fantasy
A rare book dealer finds himself going back in time from 2012 to 1957, meeting the author of a translated ancient manuscript, and together they must prevent a cult from stealing it to use for other means.

This was very readable and even though it essentially uses tropes that have been done many times before, there was something still fresh about it. I think it was that the characters were well done – likeable and realistic, and the time travel aspect was also quite well constructed.

Still, being a
Scot Eaton
This book was my Halloween read in 2020. I've been a Tim Powers fan for about 6 years, and when I saw this on the library shelf I couldn't resist. The concepts in this book are top notch. It has a more cohesive narrative than almost any time travel movie that's ever come out of Hollywood, with nary a plot hole to be found. But it's too short for its own good. You barely get any time to be invested in... well... anything. This makes a lot of the parts that really should work fall flat. If this no ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first Tim Powers's read, of which there will surely be more to come. This is an excellently told, short time travel story with romantic themes and just a hint of Lovecraftian style overtones :) ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of potential here, but sadly the story fell flat. It’s a quick read. I finished it in a cross country flight. The story would have benefited from some slower moments and better character development.
Jim Mcvay
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Concise with Powers usual themes

A condensed version of Powers usual type of story. Time travel and old gods mixed with a Powers twist. Good, enjoyable but not as layered and dense as his longer works.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
A nice little story. It feels like a slice of the main character's life. Lots of stuff happens but it didn't need to be an epic book to tell the story.
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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

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Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
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“Oh hell, Vader, beer is old fashioned, salt is old fashioned. Why do you think magic spells in stories always rhyme? And kids’ jump-rope rituals? And political slogans? The subconscious, the pre-rational part of your brain, thinks a statement must be important if it rhymes. And meter, that drum-beat—imagine how uninspiring the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V would have been if it wasn’t in iambic pentameter!” 0 likes
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