World Fantasy Award winner Tim Powers is taking Alternate Routes
America’s motorways, says Tim Powers, can be spooky places. “On the freeways, ordinary time and space are warped, stretched or condensed, and you only re-enter the real world when you exit,” he says.
Welcome to the world imagined by Powers in his new novel, Alternate Routes. It’s a tale that takes in not just the idea of freeways as mystical and eldritch places that “facilitate the appearance of ghosts”, but the legend of the Minotaur and the notion that Theseus may have needed “a string abacus” to find his way out of the Labyrinth.
“I like to find mythological or folklorical roots for the supernatural elements in my books,” says Powers, “to convey to the reader, ‘See? I’m not making this stuff up. It’s been going on for centuries – in fact, you’ve already heard of a lot of it, you just never linked up all the clues!’”
As with his more historical works like The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides, Alternate Routes sees the author hard at work on research.
“It generally turns out that I don’t know as much about this world as I thought I did,” he admits. “What exactly do police do, or paramedics, or drug dealers? How accurate is a .45 at a hundred feet? I have to research those sorts of things pretty thoroughly.”
As to why he should want to answer such questions in his mid-sixties, Powers is driven at least in part by his work ethic. “I always feel that if I’m not in the middle of writing a book or a story, I have no right to deprive other people of the oxygen I’m selfishly consuming,” he jokes.
To which end, he’s currently working on sequel to Alternate Routes. “It seems Cecil B DeMille did something in the ’20s that’s having repercussions in Los Angeles now,” he says. “Supernatural, of course. And it turns out that it involves Silicon Valley and Dorian Gray paintings and biker gangs from the ’60s!” JWr
Alternate Routes will be available in the UK in August via Diamond Distributors and Forbidden Planet.
Author Tim Powers brings us into strange new worlds.