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Strange Itineraries    by Tim Powers order for
Strange Itineraries
by Tim Powers
Order:  USA  Can
Tachyon, 2005 (2005)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Strange Itineraries is the complete collection (nine stories) of short science fiction by Tim Powers, including three that he co-wrote with James P. Blaylock. Unfortunately, eight out of the nine have similar themes - that of lost souls who have not moved on, many of whom have powers of time travel - making the collection rather monotonous.

One story that differs from the others is 'The Better Boy,' one of the three that Powers wrote with Blaylock. In this humorous tale of unachieved dreams, an inventor tries to save a humongous Better Boy tomato from a horde of hungry worms. Having comically lost his worn-out 'inventor's pants,' Bernard Wilkins is despondent until he discovers one gigantic untouched tomato in his garden. Desperate to save it, he tries an experiment he has been working on involving 'ether bunnies' and a net to keep the worms off the vegetables. However, his experiment is not quite ready and the worms decimate the tomato anyway, leaving the inventor with the question - would his experiment have worked had he had his pants?

One issue with the majority of the tales in Strange Itineraries is that Powers spends most of the story on exposition. Having long explanations at the beginning of a short story makes it drag along, seeming longer than it is, but then, as it is a work of short fiction, everything is abruptly resolved (or in some cases, unresolved) and the narrative is over leaving the reader feeling unfulfilled. Taken individually, Tim Power's stories are interesting and thought-provoking; however their similarities reduce the appeal of the collection.

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